What’s the IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an english language proficiency competitor to the TOEFL.

There are two versions of the test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The Academic version is designed for those who are looking to attend an English speaking institute of higher education and is also at times used as a pre requisite to join certain professional organizations in English speaking countries.

The second version, IELTS General Training, is designed for those who are either immigrating to certain English speaking countries or for those working in or entering training programs in English speaking countries.

The IELTS is accepted by more than 9,000 organizations in over 145 countries. This includes universities, colleges, government departments and agencies, multinational companies and more.


IELTS Structure

The IELTS is composed of four components:

  • Listening: Involves listening to four recorded conversations or monologues and takes 30 minutes. This tests your ability to understand main ideas, factual information, opinions, attitudes, and purpose of speech.
  • Reading: Lasts 60 minutes and involves answering 40 questions that focus on the comprehension and understanding of three long texts for the IELTS Academic or from books, magazines, newspapers, and advertisements for the IELTS General. This tests your reading comprehension skills.
  • Writing: Takes 60 minutes and involves writing of two tasks. For the IELTS Academic this means writing an essay and summarizing presented information. For the IELTS General, this means writing an essay and a letter. The writing topics are of general interest and suitable for candidates entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
  • Speaking: Lasts between 11 and 14 minutes and involves answering a set of questions. This component is delivered in a way that does not allow candidates to rehearse for. It is also recorded.


IELTS Scoring System

Each section of the IELTS is marked out of a raw score which is then converted to a band scale from 1 to 9 where 9 is the best. Each of the sections are equally weighted and the final score known as the Overall Band Score. The Overall Band Score is calculated by taking the mean of the the total of the four section scores.

See a more detailed explanation of how the IELTS is marked here.


When, Where, How?

There are more than 1,000 test centers in over 140 countries that offer the IELTS exam.

There are however only 48 fixed test dates and tests are administrated up to four times a month only. See the next test date here. The IELTS Academic is available during all 48 tests, while the IELTS General Training is only available 24 times.

The cost of the test will vary by your location. When you search for testing dates and locations you will be able to obtain the cost of the test to you.


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