IELTS- About

What is IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English language test. It measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. Educational institutions, employers, professional registration bodies and government immigration agencies often require proof of English language skills as part of their recruitment or admission procedures. IELTS is widely accepted for such purposes.

IELTS is recognised by universities and employers in many English speaking countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Taking IELTS opens doors – it can help you live, study and work around the world. More than 10,000 organisations in 140 countries accept IELTS. About 3 million IELTS tests are taken each year.

IELTS has two options depending on your study, work or migration needs:

Ø  Academic – for people applying for higher education or professional registration

Ø  General Training – for those migrating to Australia, Canada and the UK, or applying for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking environment.

Both versions provide a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills.

IELTS is on the UKVI list of approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT). If you need an IELTS test result as part of your application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you will need to take your test at a specific test location authorised by UKVI.

To find out whether you need to take IELTS for UKVI, and what level you need to achieve, please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website for more information.

Test format

IELTS measures all levels of your English language skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

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.

All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. The difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training is in the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections.

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Ø  Listening – 4 sections, 40 questions, 30 minutes

Ø  Speaking – interview, 11-14 minutes

Ø  Reading – different for Academic or General Training – 3 sections, 40 questions, 60 minutes

Ø  Writing – different for Academic or General Training – 2 pieces of writing, 60 minutes


IELTS provides results for all levels of English; there is no such thing as a pass or fail. You will be given a score from zero to nine for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Your results from the four parts then produce an overall score. A half band score indicates a strong performance at a particular band level.

Band score




Band 9

Expert user

You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.

Band 8

Very good user

You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.

Band 7

Good user

You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.

Band 6

Competent user

Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band 5

Modest user

You have a partial command of the language, and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.

Band 4

Limited user

Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.

Band 3

Extremely limited user

You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.

Band 2

Intermittent user

You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band 1


You have no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.

Band 0

Did not attempt the test

You did not answer the questions.

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