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What is the IELTS (English Language Proficiency Test)?

The International English Language Testing System, is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. The IELTS test assesses your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking. It has an excellent international reputation, and is accepted by over 7,000 organisations and programs worldwide.

It is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment, and was established in 1989.

IELTS assesses all of your English skills — reading(60 minutes), writing(60 minutes), listening(30 minutes) and speaking(11–14 minutes), and is designed to reflect how you will use English in your new life abroad to study, work, and play.

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

The Speaking component, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test centre will advise.

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There are two versions of IELTS to choose from:

  • IELTS Academic: The IELTS Academic test is suitable for entry to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and also for professional registration purposes. It assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training in an environment where English language is used, and reflects some of the features of language used in academic study.
  • IELTS General Training: This IELTS test is suitable for those applying to train or study at below degree level, as well as those wishing to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.

Everyone takes the same listening and speaking tests, regardless of which version they take, But Reading and Writing tests differ in content.


You will receive a score based on each for the four skills on a scale of 1 – 9, and you will also be awarded an overall band score. You can score whole (e.g., 5.0, 6.0, 7.0) or half (e.g., 5.5., 6.5, 7.5) bands in each part of the test.

The minimum score accepted for a course ranges from 5.0 to 7.5, depending upon courses and institutes you are applying to. The most common requirement is a band score of 6 to 6.5.

Your overall band score may be crucial if you intend to emigrate, apply for university or take up a job in an English-speaking country.