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What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to help you work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. This includes countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA.
Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test. IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9. 
IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council; IDP IELTS; and Cambridge University Press & Assessment. 

Why take IELTS?

If you are looking to work, live or study in an English-speaking country, then you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language ability.

English is the third most spoken language in the world, with 379 million speakers worldwide.

Being able to communicate in the native language of the country you wish to work or study in, has a wide range of benefits. It is also essential for job opportunities as well as integration into the community.

IELTS is the most popular test for those looking to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is globally recognised by more than 11,000 employers, universities, schools and immigration bodies including 3,400 institutions in the USA.

IELTS score scale

Band scoreSkill level Description 
9Expert userThe test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8Very good userThe test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
7Good userThe test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
6Competent userThe test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5Modest userThe test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
4Limited userThe test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3Extremely limited userThe test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2Intermittent userThe test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1Non-userThe test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
0Did not attempt the testThe test taker did not answer the questions.

What IELTS score do I need?

The higher you can score in your IELTS, reflects a better understanding and ability to communicate in English. Each immigration body, university, workplace or institution will have specific IELTS score requirements. The score you need will depend on what you are looking to do in the country, i.e work or study. 

Entry requirements for organisations which accept IELTS

How IELTS is developed

IELTS is developed to provide a fair and accurate assessment of English language proficiency.Test questions are developed by language specialists from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The test covers four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. IELTS test content reflects everyday situations. It is unbiased and fair to all test takers from all backgrounds.

  

IELTS test format explained

Test takers who understand the format of IELTS are at an advantage. Make sure you’re familiar with how IELTS testing works.

There are two IELTS tests available, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both tests are graded in exactly the same way. 

You’ll take the first three parts of the test on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.

reading

You will need to read quickly and efficiently, and manage your time. You will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions in your IELTS Reading test. The content of the Reading test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

The IELTS Reading test is designed to assess a wide range of reading skills, including how well you

  • read for the general sense of a passage
  • read for the main ideas
  • read for detail
  • understand inferences and implied meaning
  • recognise a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • follow the development of an argument

Academic Reading

FormatThree long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.  They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
Timing 60 minutes including the transfer time
Number of Questions40 questions
Task TypesFill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions
MarksEach correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.
Answer sheetDownload the Reading test answer sheet (97KB)

 General Training Reading

FormatExtracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.
Timing 60 minutes including the transfer time
Number of Questions40 questions
Task TypesFill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions
MarksEach correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.
Answer sheetDownload the Reading test answer sheet (97KB)

Take a free reading practice test.

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