This page provides you with all the IELTS information you need to know about the IELTS test.
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Content of the Test
Test Administration and Procedures
What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It is an exam owned and managed by IDP Australia, The British Council, and Cambridge Examinations.
It is a test to measure the English ability of people who wish to study or work in countries, places or organisations where English is the main language of communication.
It uses band scale of 1-9 to indicate ability, with 1 a virtual non-user of the language and 9 completely fluent, or expert.
You are tested under four criteria: speaking, listening, reading and writing. There is an Academic Test and a General Training Test.
Academic or General Training?
There are two test versions available, Academic or General Training. They use the same band scales and both versions assess the four language skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Academic is for people applying for higher education i.e. university, or professional registration. General Training is for people migrating to the UK, Australia, or Canada, or applying for training programmes, work experience, or secondary education in an English-speaking environment.
The Speaking Module
Academic and General Training
In the IELTS speaking you are assessed by an IELTS examiner in a one-to-one interview which lasts 11-14 minutes. It is divided into three parts.
In part one you are asked some questions about either your home, hometown, study or work, and then questions around two other topics randomly chosen by the examiner. These could be about things such as holidays, the weather, visiting museums, reading, fashion, travelling etc.
In part two you have to speak for two minutes on a topic the examiner gives you. For example, you could talk on a teacher you liked, a dinner party you attended, or a favourite place to visit. You are given a pencil and paper and given one minute to prepare your talk.
In part three you have a discussion with the examiner around more complex topics related to your part two talk. So for example if you spoke about a teacher you liked in part two, part three could be questions about the educational system in your country and more generally.
Academic and General Training
The listening module lasts 40 minutes - 30 minutes listening and 10 minutes to add your answers to an answer sheet. There are 4 sections, each one getting more difficult.
Section one is a conversation between two people in a social situation. Section two is a speech in a formal situation, such as at work or college. Section three could be a conversation between two or three people. Section for is some kind of lecture by one person.
The test lasts one hour with no time to add answers at the end so it has to be done during the test. There are 40 questions and three readings. They are the same difficulty, and each reading is around 800 words. The readings are academic style texts taken from various publications.
The test lasts one hour with 40 questions, with no time to add answers at the end. There are three sections. The readings in section one and two are a mix of short factual texts, such as adverts or texts on work related issues. They are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country rather than being academic. Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest.
Texts are taken from magazines and newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and books.
There is a Task 1 and a Task 2. The test time is 60 minutes.It is recommended in the test to spend 20 minutes on task 1, as it is worth less marks, and 40 minutes on task 2.
Again there is a task 1 and a task 2, with a total test time of 60 minutes, and a recommendation to spend 20 minutes on task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2.
How are IELTS scores calculated?
IELTS scores are calculated using a banding system.
Your overall band score will be from 0 – 9, with 9 being the highest band you can achieve. This would mean you have fully functional use of the English language.
This overall band score is an average of each band score that you are given for your writing, reading, listening and speaking.
Where do I get tested for IELTS?
You get tested at an IELTS test centre. This will normally be with the British Council or IDP, two of the institutions that administer the test. It may be at one of their language schools or it could be held at another venue.
International House also have test centres and some test centres may be held at other organisations, such as universities.
There are more than 500 IELTS test centers around the world, and so most big cities will have somewhere that you can get tested. If there is not one in your city, then you will need to travel to a place that does have the test. You can also contact these test centres for further IELTS information.
You can locate a centre at the official IELTS website - Find a test centre
How do I register for IELTS?
To register for IELTS, you first need to find your local IELTS test centre (see above). They will help you to complete your IELTS registration and provide you with any other IELTS information you need.
They will advise you of whether you need to take the general training or academic module. They will also provide you with an IELTS application form to complete, or you can download this from the official IELTS website.
You will need to complete the application form and sign it. You will also need a copy of your passport (or national identity card – check with your centre if this is accepted) and two recent passport sized photos, which are signed on the back. You cannot wear glasses in these photos.
You’ll need to return the IELTS application form to the centre with your payment in order to complete your IELTS registration. You’ll need to check with the IELTS centre for information about any other methods of payment by post.
Once your IELTS application form has been processed and they have all the IELTS information from you they need, your registration is complete and you will be contacted about an IELTS examination date. You will need to take the same ID you used to register (i.e. your passport or national ID card) to the test.
In some cases you can complete the IELTS application online, but you will need to check this with your local centre to see if they provide this service.
How much does the IELTS test cost?
The IELTS test cost is the same around the world, however it will obviously be affected by your local currency.
The current IELTS test cost is £165 or $230. Contact your local test centre for IELTS information on the level of fees in your currency.
The IELTS cost is the same for the academic and general training modules.
What happens on the IELTS test day?
When you arrive at the test centre, there will be staff there to assist you. Make sure you arrive on time. If you miss your appointment without good reason then you may have to re-register and pay again (see below for IELTS information about missing the test).
You must bring with you the same identification that you used when you registered for IELTS. If you do not have this with you, then you cannot sit the test.
The normal procedure is to take the listening test first, followed by the reading, then the writing, and finally the speaking. This may take the whole day, depending on when you are allocated to take the speaking test. However, please note that sometimes the speaking test is on a different day, either before or after the other tests. So always check carefully in your correspondence from your test centre.
There will be an invigilator in the listening, reading and writing test to tell you what you need to do, so just follow their instructions. There will also be IELTS information and instructions in the test papers that you should read carefully and follow.
Put your hand up and speak to someone if there is anything you are not sure about, but the invigilator cannot help you with the questions in the test.
In the speaking test it will be just you and the examiner. Again, just follow their instructions. At the beginning you will be asked for your identification so make sure you still have this with you.
You are not allowed to have a mobile phone or any other items with you during the test. The only thing you are allowed is pencils and a rubber.
Of course, during the test you are not allowed to talk to other candidates, copy other’s work, eat or drink, or leave the room.
How do I get my IELTS results?
Your IELTS results will be sent to you 13 days after your test date. They will be posted out by the centre at which you took the test.
You will be sent a test report form. This test report form will contain the IELTS information about your overall band score and your score in each of the modules (writing, reading, listening, and speaking). The form will also include your personal data and the date that you took the test, and whether you took the general training or academic module.
If you want, at the time of registration you can ask for copies of your IELTS results to be sent to up to five institutions so they have your IELTS information. There is a small fee for sending it to more than five, but it saves you sending them out. The institutions will have access to a data base so they can double check the scores.
It is recommended to take the test again if you wish to use your test report form and it is more than two years since you first took the test. This is because your score may well be different now if so much time has gone by. .
Can I check my IELTS results online?
Yes, at some centres it is possible to check your IELTS results online, or you can even get an SMS sent to your phone in some cases. Check with your local centre where you can get the IELTS information that you need. .
Can I re-take the IELTS test?
You can re-take the IELTS test any time you like as there are no limits or restrictions on this. You will have to pay the full fee each time.
You should make sure you do some practice, though, if you are not getting the score you want instead of just retaking the test many times. This website provides all the IELTS information you need about improving your score.
How do I get my IELTS test re-marked?
If you feel that your IELTS result is wrong, then you can apply to have an IELTS re-mark. However, there are some things you should be aware of before you do this.
Firstly, it is probably not a good idea to apply for a re-mark of your IELTS test if you think your reading or listening score is wrong. These all have right or wrong answers and are marked objectively so it is not likely that it was marked incorrectly.
It is possible that your writing or speaking is wrong. However, remember that it is marked by an IELTS examiner who is trained in the marking criteria to check your work. They are experienced and they are monitored regularly so they should be able to mark it correctly.
If though, you are sure it is wrong, and you want a re-mark, you need to contact your test centre and apply for an ‘Enquiry on Results’ procedure. You can ask for a specific module to be checked, but the price is the same whatever you choose, so you may as well have the whole test re-marked.
Another important point is that if your score was more than 2 bands different in any of the criteria then it will have been re-marked again anyway. This is part of the procedure. This would, therefore, make it unlikely to change again if you ask for a re-mark.
You have to ask for the re-mark within 6 weeks of taking the test. Re-marks are usually done in London, so it could take up to 8 weeks to get your new score back.
The cost to get the test re-marked is close to the cost of taking the test again, so many choose to re-sit the test instead.
If your score is increased, then your money will be refunded. Your scores may go up if you get a remark, but there is no evidence that anybody's score ever goes down after a remark.
How do I cancel or postpone my IELTS test?
If you want to cancel IELTS or postpone to another date, you must do this at least 5 weeks before your test date in order to get a full refund. You will still have to pay an administration fee, however.
If you cancel within 5 weeks of taking the test, then you will not get a refund unless you have a medical certificate.
What happens if I miss my IELTS test?
If you miss your IELTS test then you won't get a refund and you will have to pay for another test. The only way that you can get a refund is if there is serious medical situation and you had to be admitted to hospital. You would need doctor's proof of this.
It is the same situation if you miss one module, for example the speaking because it is on another day. You would need medical proof of hospital admission. If you can't, then you would get no grade for the module you missed, and you would need to sit the whole test again in order to get a band for each module.
When are the IELTS exam dates?
The IELTS exams dates are fixed on certain days throughout the year. The IELTS exam dates for the current year can be checked here:
The general training test is not held on every session. The same test and questions are administered at all the test centres
End of IELTS Information
In the IELTS Forum you can get more IELTS information by reading other common questions about the IELTS Test which have been asked by candidates