The IELTS exams – everything you need to know

The IELTS exams - everything you need to know

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language test for study, migration, or work. It is about the most widely recognized English language proficiency tests in the world.

Over three million people globally take the test every year. It is accepted by more than 11,000 employers, universities, schools, and immigration organizations.

This article will explore everything you need to know about IELTS, including the types of tests available, the test format, scoring, preparation, tips, and resources.


Types of IELTS Tests

The International English Language Testing System, also known as IELTS, has two types of tests – Academic and General tests that are designed to assess the proficiency of candidates in the English language. However, they are quite different in their purpose and content.

1. Academic IELTS

Academic IELTS is designed for candidates who want to study at a tertiary level in an English-speaking country or for those seeking professional registration.

This test assesses the candidate’s ability to comprehend and use complex academic language.

2. General Training IELTS

General Training IELTS is structured for candidates who desire to migrate to an English-speaking country or undertake work-related training. It assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively in the English language,

The IELTS Test Format

1. The Listening Section

The section consists of four parts, each with ten questions.

Candidates will listen to a variety of recordings, including conversations and monologues, after which the candidate is given questions to answer.

While you will have time to read the questions before each section begins, you will only have one chance to listen to each recording. Therefore you need to pay rapt attention.

2. The Reading Section

This part of the test consists of three sections, each with a different type of text.

The texts are taken from a range of sources, including newspapers, books, and magazines.  So, read vastly before the test.

This reading section has a duration of 60 minutes, during which you are expected to answer 40 questions.

3. The Writing Section

The IELTS writing test consists of two tasks.

In the first task, you will be given a graph, chart, or diagram and then asked to describe the figure in your own words.

In the second task, you will be given a topic to write an essay about.

Both tasks last for 60 minutes.

4. The Speaking Section

The IELTS speaking test is a one-on-one interview session with an examiner.

It is made up of three parts – an introduction and interview, a short speech, and a discussion.

The interview and short speech sections are time-bound, while the discussion section is not.

IELTS Test Duration and Timing

The total time allotted for the IELTS test is 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

You will sit for the listening, reading, and writing sections at a stretch on the same day. There are no breaks in between the sections. While for the speaking test, it is usually held on a different day.

An email will be sent to you 48 hours prior to inform you of the speaking test schedule.

However, some candidates may have their speaking test on the same day as the other sections.


IELTS Scoring

The IELTS test score is rated on a band scale from 0 to 9, which measures your proficiency in the English language across the four skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Thus, the total band score is the average of your band scores across the four skills.

For example, if you score a 7 in listening, an 8 in reading, a 6 in writing, and a 7 in speaking, your overall band score would be 7.

How Are the IELTS Scores Calculated?

Your accuracy, your ability to use a range of vocabulary and grammar, and your ability to communicate your ideas effectively are some of the factors used in scoring your performance.

However, there is a standardized system for scoring the IELTS tests by the examiners.

In IELTS tests, there is no pass or fail.


How to Check Your IELTS Results

If you took the paper test, you will be able to view your result 13 days after the test, on the Test Taker Portal.

However, candidates who did it via computer will be able to check their results 3 to 5 days after their test.

A physical paper copy of your IELTS test result will also be sent to you through a courier service to the address you provided during your registration as it becomes available online.

This could take up to 7 working days before it gets to you.

If you so desire, the British Council may send your IELTS test result directly to the universities you are applying to.


How Long Are IELTS Test Results Valid?

The results remain valid for two years.

IELTS Test Centers and Dates

There are accredited IELTS test centers in every country.

To select a test center, you have to visit the British Council website to find out the available test centers in your region. Then you select your preferred location.

You are also at liberty to choose a date that is convenient for you to take the test. Usually, there is one test date every month.

Note that when choosing a date and a center, you will also have to decide if you want a paper test or a computer test as not all ceters offer the computer test.

Not all locations offer the computer test, for instance.


How to Register for Your IELTS Test

To register for the test, simply visit, and provide the required information which includes a valid identification document.

A confirmation email will be sent to you when you must have successfully booked your test date. The email contains the date, time of your exam and also the day of your speaking test.


IELTS Fees and Payment Process

IELTS fees varies for different countries. So your country of residence will determine your IELTS fees.

The test fee covers the exam and preparatory materials. Visit the IELTS website to confirm your fees.

There are two ways you can pay your IELTS test fees.

  1. Online Payment: To make payment via this method, you will use the link on the payment page that you will be directed on completion of your registration.
  2. Offline Payment: You can make payment at your test centre after you have registered. For this method of payment, if you fail to make payment after two days of regiatration, your registration will be cancelled.

What to Carry on the Test Day

  • A valid means of identification (national ID card or international passport)
  • Pencil, pen, eraser and sharpener

Any other item besides these will not be allowed into the test room, so take note.


Author: abokimallamfx