IELTS - International English Language Testing System

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardised test of English Language proficiency. The test is designed to assess the language ability of people who want to study or work where English is the language of communication.

 

IELTS test is tried and tested – it has been developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment, and is supported by an extensive programme of research, validation and test development. Established in 1989, the test is jointly managed by British Council, IDP Education & Cambridge English Language Assessment. 

 

IELTS is internationally focused in its content. It is the test that opens doors around the world – it is recognised and accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, employers, professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies for respective purposes.

 

IELTS test is offered up to 4 times a month in more than 1,000 test centres in over 140 countries. Tests are held on Saturdays and Thursdays.

 

There is no official prerequisite or eligibility criteria to register for IELTS test. 

 

Band scale and proficiency level

IELTS is designed to assess English language skills across a wide range of levels. There is no such thing as a pass or fail in IELTS. Results are reported as band scores on a scale from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).

Band score 9: Expert user:

Has full operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

Band score 8:

Very good user Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

Band score 7:

Good user Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

Band score 6:

Competent user Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band score 5:

Modest user Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

Band score 4:

Limited user Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

Band score 3:

Extremely limited user Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

Band score 2:

Intermittent user No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band score 1:

Non user Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

 

Relationship between IELTS band score & CEFR level

IELTS score 8.5-9.0 = CEFR level C2 

IELTS score 7.0-8.0 = CEFR level C1

IELTS score 5.5-6.5 = CEFR level B2 

IELTS score 4.0-5.0 = CEFR level B1 

 

IELTS test versions

There are 2 versions of the IELTS

IELTS Academic is for test takers wishing to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and for those seeking professional registration. 

 

IELTS General Training is for test takers wishing to migrate to an English Speaking country and for those wishing to undertake non-academic training or gain work experience. 

Each organisation sets its own requirements of proficiency level in English. In some cases both Academic and General Training may be accepted. If you are in doubt as to which to take, you should contact the organisation you are applying to in order to check their requirements. 

 

There are also other tests offered by the IELTS test partners 

IELTS Life Skills test is intended for those who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 or B1 and can be used to apply for a ‘family of a settled person’ visa, indefinite leave to remain or citizenship in the UK.

 

UKVI (United Kingdom Visa & Immigration) IELTS is known as Secured English Language Test (SELT) is required from students who intends undertake a foundation level course in the UK (for degree or above level courses academic IELTS is fine). Please check HERE for more information. 

 

IELTS test components 

Test takers are tested on 4 language skills 

Key information

Total time for the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Test structure

Listening

Timing

Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time).

Questions

There are 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/ map/diagram labelling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, short-answer questions.

 

Test Parts

There are 4 sections:

Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency).

Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference).

Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project). Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture). Each section is heard once only. A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used.

 

Skills assessed

A wide range of listening skills are assessed, including: understanding of main ideas; understanding of specific factual information; recognising opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker; following the development of an argument

Marking

Each correct answer receives 1 mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands

 

Reading

Timing 60 minutes (no extra transfer time).

Questions

There are 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying a writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

 

Test Parts

There are 3 sections. The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words.

Academic Reading

Each section contains one long text. Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest. Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, test takers entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain nonverbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided.

 

General Training Reading

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). Topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country.

 

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training).

Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest. Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Skills assessed 

A wide range of reading skills are assessed, including: reading for gist; reading for main ideas; reading for detail; understanding inferences and implied meaning; recognising writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose; following the development of an argument.

 

Marking

Each correct answer receives 1 mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands 

Writing

Timing 60 minutes Tasks There are 2 tasks. You are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.