International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam

What Is IELTS Exam: Eligibility, Score, Validity, And More

January 24, 2024
IELTS Exam

The significance of IELTS goes beyond just taking a test. It's not only about proving your English skills but also about opening doors to new opportunities. Want to study abroad? Or planning to settle in an English-speaking nation? IELTS is your ticket to make it happen. So in a nutshell the full form of IELTS represents a test that can shape your future. It's not just a bunch of letters; it's your pathway to education, career growth, and a new life in an English-speaking country. So if you're thinking about what IELTS can do for you? The answer is simple – it can open doors to a world of possibilities.

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What is IELTS

IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is an exam that tests a candidate's English language proficiency. International students take this test to study or work in a country where English is the primary language. The IELTS exam was launched in 1980 and is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP, and Cambridge English. 

The IELTS exam measures a candidate’s English language skills, mainly in four areas: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Countries like the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada accept IELTS results for university admissions. In this blog, we will discuss the various aspects of IELTS in detail, from what it is to eligibility, test format, modules, and more. 

How does IELTS Work?

The IELTS exam is accepted in more than 140 countries and around 3000 universities worldwide. The IELTS Module is divided into two parts: IELTS Academic and IELTS General, each comprising four sections: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Let’s understand how these four sections evaluate a candidate’s language proficiency.    

1. Listening

The IELTS Listening section focuses on assessing a candidate’s core listening skills through monologues, lectures, recordings, and conversations. 

2. Reading 

This section of the IELTS exam evaluates a candidate’s reading comprehension skills. The candidate will have to read from a variety of texts, including articles, essays, and graphs. 

3. Speaking 

The IELTS Speaking focuses on assessing a candidate’s English communication skills. The test taker must interview with the examiner face-to-face and answer questions. 

4. Writing

In this section, the candidate will be presented with two tasks to assess their writing skills. These include visual information interpretation and writing an essay based on prompts. 

IELTS Test Format (Module)

The IELTS module comprises three structures that candidates can choose from. 

1. IELTS Academic

IELTS Academic training is for candidates who want to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Candidates who are also looking for professional registration can opt for his IELTS test module. 

2. IELTS General

The IELTS General training is for candidates who wish to immigrate to English-speaking nations such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, as well as those aspiring to pursue training or academic endeavours at levels below a degree.

3. IELTS Related Tests - IELTS Life Skills or UKVI

IELTS for Life Skills focuses on assessing a candidate’s English language proficiency for everyday life. This module is specifically designed for individuals who are applying for UK visas and want to demonstrate their English speaking and listening skills. 

Furthermore, let’s break down these modules to understand the IELTS exam format in detail.

IELTS Academic

What is IELTS Academic Reading paper?

This section comprises 40 questions, for which the candidate will get around 60 minutes. This part of the IELTS Format section comprises three sections featuring a lengthy passage of around 700-1000 words. 

What is IELTS Academic Writing paper? 

The section comprises two tasks, for which 60 minutes are allotted to the candidate. This is to assess a candidate’s writing in an academic setting. Candidates will be presented with visual information such as graphs, diagrams, charts, tables, etc. 

What is IELTS Academic Listening paper?

The task comprises 40 questions, and 30 minutes will be given for the candidate to finish it. It is to measure a candidate’s listening ability and their ability to understand spoken English in various everyday and educational contexts. 

What is IELTS Academic Speaking paper?

This section of the IELTS exam focuses on understanding a candidate’s speaking skills. It is divided into three distinct sections and lasts about 11 to 14 minutes. The focus is to understand the candidate’s fluency in basic topics. 

IELTS General Training

What is IELTS General Training Reading Paper?

This section of the IELTS exam tests the candidate's ability in everyday written English. It comprises 40 questions to be answered in a span of 60 minutes. The section comprises three parts, which include a long passage and three short texts. 

What is IELTS General Training Writing Paper?

This section of the IELTS exam consists of two tasks that must be completed in 60 minutes. Candidates are provided with a situation and, based on that, are expected to write a letter. The focus is on presenting the information clearly and following a structured format so that the recipient can better understand the content.

What is IELTS General Training Listening Paper?

This section of the IELTS exam comprises 40 questions that need to be answered in 30 minutes. It tests your listening skills, which is to assess the candidate's ability to understand everyday spoken English. 

What is IELTS General Training Speaking Paper?

In the IELTS Speaking exam, a candidate has to undergo a face-to-face interview with an examiner. This test has three parts and usually lasts 11 - 14 minutes. Here, the examiner will ask you some general questions related to the candidate’s background and familiar topics like family, work, hobbies, or studies. 

Different Modes of IELTS Exam

Now that we have discussed the IELTS exam format let’s move on to the different modes of the IELTS exam. There are two types of IELTS exams that candidates can choose from. 

What is IELTS Test: Paper Based?

One way of taking the IELTS exam is in a paper-based format, which the candidate can choose. The paper-based exam is conducted in the traditional format with question papers and answer sheets. The paper-based IELTS exam format focuses on Reading, Writing, and Listening on paper. This test is taken with either HB pencils or a pen. However, the Speaking is conducted face-to-face with a professional IELTS examiner. 

Test Dates Availability

The British Council and the IELTS IDP are the exam conducting bodies that decide the test dates and venue for the IELTS exam. 

1. IELTS IDP - For countries like India, IELTS IDP takes care of conducting exams. Candidates can visit the official website of british council for IELTS and check the test for the IELTS exam as per your country. 

2. British Council - If IDP isn’t present in your country then the British Council might conduct the test.

What Is IELTS Test: Computer-Based?

Another mode of taking the IELTS exam is opting for the computer-based test. This is a computer-delivered format in which Reading, Listening, and Writing are covered like the paper-based format, but candidates will take it on a computer.  Candidates will be presented with passages and questions electronically. In the listening section, the candidates will be asked to listen to the recordings through headphones and answer questions on the computer screen.

Difference Between IELTS Exam Paper-Based & Computer-Based

IELTS EXAM Registration

In order to take the IELTS exam, candidates must register for the exam. The registration requirements for the IELTS exam may vary as per the exam centre and the conducting body. The basic requirement for the IELTS exam registration is listed below - 

1. Age

To register for the IELTS exam, you must be 16 years old or older.

2. Valid Identification

When you register, you need to show a valid passport or government-issued ID. The name on your ID must match the name you use to register.

3. English Language Proficiency

You don't need to have a specific level of English to register for IELTS. However, IELTS is meant for people who want to study or work in places where English is the main language used.

Registration Process

1. Choose Test Center and Format

First, decide if you want to take the paper-based test or the computer test. Then, pick a test centre (IDP or British Council) that is convenient for you.

2. Online Registration

Most centres allow you to register online through their websites. You will need to create an account and fill out an application form with your personal information. You also need to select your test date, location, and type (Academic or General Training).

3. Payment

You will have to pay the test fee online using a credit or debit card.

4. Verification and Additional Documents

Some centres may ask you to send scanned copies of your ID or passport when registering online. You might also need to show the original documents on your test day.

IELTS Paper-Based Registration

Opting for the traditional paper-based format of the IELTS exam offers a familiar test-taking experience. To register, candidates must first choose an authorised test centre, either through the British Council or IDP, based on their location. The registration process involves creating an online account, providing personal details, selecting the test date and module (Academic or General Training), and making the fee payment.

IELTS Computer-Based Registration

For those preferring a modern, digital test experience, the IELTS exam is also offered in a computer-based format. Registration follows a similar process to the paper-based test, involving the selection of a test centre offering the computer-delivered option. Candidates create an online account, input personal information, choose their preferred test date and module, and complete the fee payment.

IELTS Test Dates

The availability of IELTS test dates varies by country and test centre. Most test centres offer multiple test dates throughout the year, allowing candidates to choose a convenient time that fits their schedule. Here's an overview of IELTS test dates across different countries and test centres:

IELTS Exam Syllabus 2024

The IELTS exam syllabus remains consistent year after year, ensuring a standardised and reliable evaluation of language skills. However, the specific content within each section is regularly updated to reflect current trends and real-life scenarios. Let us understand IELTS exam syllabus 2024 for both the modules below:

IELTS General Syllabus 2024

The IELTS General Training syllabus for 2024 will continue to focus on evaluating English language skills in practical, everyday contexts. The Reading section will feature a variety of passages from books, magazines, and other general interest publications. The Writing tasks will involve composing letters and essays on familiar topics. The Listening section will present conversations and monologues related to common situations. The Speaking component will assess the ability to communicate effectively in social and professional environments.

IELTS Academic Syllabus 2024

The IELTS Academic syllabus for 2024 will maintain its emphasis on assessing language proficiency in an academic setting. The Reading passages will be derived from academic texts, journals, and other scholarly sources. The Writing tasks will require the interpretation of visual information and the construction of well-structured essays on academic topics. The Listening section will feature lectures, discussions, and other academic-oriented audio materials. The Speaking component will evaluate the ability to express complex ideas and engage in academic discourse.

IELTS Score

The IELTS score is a comprehensive evaluation of a candidate's English language proficiency across the four sections of Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The score ranges from 0 to 9 for each section, with an overall band score calculated as the mean of the individual section scores. This standardised IELTS scoring system provides a reliable measure of English ability for academic institutions and professional organisations worldwide.

How Are IELTS Band Scores Calculated?

The IELTS test is scored on a 9-band scale, with each individual section (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) receiving a score from 0 to 9. The overall IELTS band score is then calculated as the mean of the four individual section scores, rounded to the nearest whole or half band.

To better understand the IELTS Band score, refer to the following table:

What IELTS Band Scores Signify?

IELTS band scores signify a test-taker's level of English language proficiency. A score of 9 represents an expert user, while lower scores indicate varying levels of competence, from very good (8) to non-user (0). These standardised scores help universities, employers, and immigration authorities gauge a candidate's readiness for an English-speaking environment based on their listening, reading, writing, and speaking abilities.

IELTS Eligibility Criteria

The IELTS exam has minimal eligibility criteria to provide access to a wide range of test-takers. Candidates must be at least 16 years old and provide a valid identification document matching their registered name. There is no specific English proficiency level required to register, although the test is designed for those aiming to study, work, or live in an English-speaking environment.

IELTS Exam Re-Taking Eligibility

There is no limit on the number of times a candidate can retake the IELTS exam. Individuals can register and appear for the test as many times as they need to achieve their desired score. However, they must complete the entire registration process and pay the full test fee for each attempt. No special eligibility criteria or waiting period is required for re-taking the IELTS.

IELTS Test Results

IELTS test results are typically available 13 days after the test date. Candidates receive a Test Report Form containing their overall band score as well as individual scores for each section (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking). The Test Report Form is accepted globally by universities, employers, and government bodies as proof of English language proficiency. Test results are valid for two years.

IELTS Test Report Form

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Test Report Form is an official document that contains the test scores of an individual who has taken the IELTS exam. This report form serves as proof of the test taker's English language proficiency for academic or professional purposes.

The IELTS Test Report Form includes the following key information:

1. Test Taker's Personal Details: Name, date of birth, and candidate number.

2. Test Details: Test date, test centre, and type of IELTS test taken (Academic or General Training).

3. Band Scores: Individual scores for Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking sections, ranging from 0 to 9.

4. Overall Band Score: The average of the four component scores, representing the overall English proficiency level.

5. Test Report Form Number: A unique identification number for verification purposes.

6. Validity Period: The report form is typically valid for two years from the test date.

How To View IELTS Results Online?

IELTS results are available online after 13 days from the test date. Test takers can get their results at the test centre on the 13th day. However, at some of the test centres, results are mailed on the 13th day. Students will be provided with a single copy of the Test Report Form, which is crucial to safeguard as replacements cannot be issued. Test centres will distribute copies of the Test Report Form to a maximum of five organisations at no additional cost.

IELTS Results Validity

IELTS results are valid for two years from the day of the test. Otherwise, you will have to present evidence that you have actively tried improving your English. The test partners can not confirm the validity of a test that is more than two years old. 

IELTS Exam Registration

Candidates must undergo IELTS exam registration to sit for the IELTS exam. Registration can be done online or offline through the following methods:

IELTS Online Registration

1. Register Online: Visit the official website to register online.

2. Select Test Format: Choose your preferred test - computer-delivered IELTS or paper-based (IELTS, IELTS for UKVI, or Life Skills).

3. Select Test Type/Module: Pick your test type/module - Academic or General Training for IELTS, IELTS for UKVI, A1 or B1 for Life Skills.

4. Choose Location: Select your desired test location/city.

5. Pick Date and Time: Choose your preferred date and time slot.

6. Complete Application: Fill out the required details and complete your online application. You will also need to upload a clear, scanned colour copy of your passport.

7. Pay Test Fee: Proceed to pay the test fee.

Top Countries that Accept IELTS

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an internationally recognized English proficiency test for non-native speakers. It is widely accepted by universities, employers, and governments worldwide as a reliable measure of English language skills. Below is a list of few of the top countries that accept IELTS scores for higher education.

1. United States

2. United Kingdom

3. Canada

4. Australia

5. New Zealand

6. Germany

7. France

Top Universities that Accept IELTS

Many of the world's leading universities recognize IELTS scores as a reliable indicator of English language proficiency for international students. Here are some of the top universities that accept IELTS scores:

IELTS Test Preparation Tips 

While preparing for the IELTS exam, it is important to keep a few points in mind. From assessing proficiency to targeted skill enhancement, this guide helps you get equipped for a successful IELTS preparation journey. 

1. Assess Yourself and Determine Your Level

2. Make a Study Plan

3. Improve your Vocabulary

4. Focus on Skill Improvement

Candidates can achieve good results by following these IELTS preparation tips

So, this was our comprehensive guide on what is IELTS, and its many aspects. The IELTS exam serves as an important exam for assessing a candidate’s English language skills. It provides a standardised measure of English proficiency and helps students and working professionals in pursuing their dreams in English speaking countries. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is IELTS very difficult?

What are IELTS exam fees?

Who needs to take IELTS?

What is IELTS pass score?

What IELTS score is a pass?

Is a 7 IELTS score easy?

Is 8.5 good in IELTS?

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