The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), established in 1989, is the most popular English language proficiency test for work, study or migration. It is an exam, accepted by most of the academic institutions and professional institutions in countries like America, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. IELTS is also the only Secure English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa customers applying both, from outside and inside the UK. The IELTS exam is designed to assess the English language ability of applicants who plan to study or work in a foreign country where English is one of the languages of communication.
Also Read: IELTS Fullform
The IELTS Exam is a test of all the four language skills, i.e. the ability to listen, read, write and speak in English. The results will be graded on a 9-band scale (1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. An IELTS mark report will be considered valid for 2 years since the result date.
There are two types of IELTS tests: Academic and General Training. The Listening and Speaking sections will be the same for both tests, but the subject of topic for the Reading and Writing sections will differ.
Recent Updates from IELTS
IELTS Registration Test Fee:
While the IELTS registration fee was initially INR 13,250. Since 1st April 2020, the registration fee has been revised to INR 14,000.
IELTS Indicator (COVID-19)
For all those who wish to take the IELTS test, but during this unfortunate time, for some reason or the other cannot go to an official test centre, IELTS has launched the IELTS Indicator.
IELTS Indicator is the IELTS exam, only taken online and live on an allocated time and duration. The exam, just like the regular IELTS, will assess the student’s skills in all 4 categories, namely, Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. The test scores will get posted within seven days after the test date.
Although the IELTS Indicator is an official product of the IELTS itself, not all the colleges and institutions have started accepting it yet, so it is advisable to check with the college you plan to apply for, before registering.
Importance of IELTS exam
As mentioned above, the IELTS is a required criterion for most of the academic institutions and work organizations for people coming from countries where English is not the main language of communication, and these universities, organizations, and even the visa granting authority would want to make sure that you have an understanding of the language and will not have any communication issues while staying in their country. The exam is also the only English test that is approved by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa candidates applying both, from inside and outside the UK. Hence, a good score band will show that you don’t have any problem communicating in English.
Is the IELTS exam compulsory?
If you’re wondering whether taking the IELTS exam is compulsory, then the straightforward answer would be no, writing the IELTS exam is not compulsory as it isn’t a required factor for many foreign universities. But by not writing the IELTS exam, there may be fewer chances of getting the visa since the visa authorities may be doubtful about your proficiency in English, without the IELTS scores. And since most of the top universities will definitely require your IELTS score, it is always advisable to appear for the IELTS and to try to get a score of at least 6 bands overall.
IELTS Eligibility Criteria
There are no specific eligibility criteria for the IELTS examination. The only criterion may be that the candidates who wish to attempt the examination must be 16 years or above. This is the only requirement that they will look for.
Check here for detailed IELTS eligibility criteria
Types of IELTS
Based on the purpose of writing the exam
The IELTS Academic is for candidates who wish to migrate for the purpose of pursuing their degree, or a higher level of education, or for professionals such as medical doctors, and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
IELTS General Training
The IELTS General Training is for candidates who wish to migrate for the purpose of working or non-academic training in an English-speaking country.
Based on Mode of Writing the Exam
For those who choose the Paper-Based Test, the Listening, Reading and Writing sections will be paper-based while the Speaking test will be conducted face-to-face with the IELTS examiner.
For those who choose the Computer Test, the Listening, Reading and Writing sections will have to be on a computer, while the Speaking test, will be conducted via face-to-face with the IELTS examiner.
Sections of the IELTS Test
There are four sections of the IELTS test:
IELTS Listening:(40 minutes)
This section comprises of four sections, with ten questions in each section. After half hour, you’ll get 10 minutes time to transfer your answers.
IELTS Reading: (60 minutes)
The Reading section has three parts, with a variety of question types including multiple-choice, short-answer questions, diagrams, graphs, and so on.
IELTS Writing: (60 minutes)
The Writing section has 2 tasks. Task 1 should be written in at least 150 words, while task 2 should be written in at least 250 words.
IELTS Speaking: (12–14 minutes)
The Speaking Test has 3 sections and is like a face-to-face interview with the examiner, where you’ll have to speak on a topic and also answer questions that the examiner asks you.
How to Register for IELTS examination
Keep your passport next to you during the IELTS registration process, as you’ll need your passport number at the time of registration. Those below 18 years of age should have their parent or guardian do the registration process for them.
- Firstly, you need to visit the IELTS official website.
- There will be a Register for test option, click on that option.
- Select the test that you are going to attempt, test type and date on which you will be appearing for the test.
- Fill in your personal details.
- Fill your details of registration.
- Upload your passport copies.
- Select the list of colleges for which your score has to be sent.
- Before submitting or making payment crosscheck the details that you have uploaded.
- Make the test fee payment.
- Once the payment is done, take the printout of the receipt.
Once the registration is done, your test centre will send you a confirmation with the date and time of your IELTS test.
Check How to register for IELTS? in detailed
Also check, IELTS Test Booking
Computer delivered IELTS
In a computer-delivered IELTS, you will take the Listening, Reading and Writing test in a computer. The test is conducted in dedicated computer labs which have the latest technology. Everything is similar to paper-based IELTS, including:
Timings vary from the paper-based test. In the paper-based test users have to transfer answers to an answer sheet. When answering directly on a computer, there is no need to transfer the answers.
You will receive the results within 5-7 days.
IELTS Test Centres India
IELTS has exam centres all across India, so while choosing your centre, you should select it based on your location and travelling convenience, so that on the day of the exam there is minimal time spent on commuting to the centre. This is important so that you can avoid entering the examination hall in a rush, and you can be fresh and ready when you reach the centre.
Check here for IELTS Test Centres
IELTS Exam Dates
The IELTS exam is conducted up to 4 times a month and almost 48 times a year. The Academic version is available on all 48 dates in a year, and the General Training version may be available on 24 dates a year. The candidates can appear for the exams as per their convenience and can attempt it as many times as they want, keeping in mind the university examination dates. But, every time they attempt the IELTS examination they’ll have to pay the registration amount of Rs.14,000/-. It is advisable to choose an exam date that’s at least 2-3 months before the application deadline.
Check here for IELTS Test Dates
Syllabus and Exam Pattern IELTS
The syllabus of IELTS examination is based on the 4 categories that are:
Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking and based on these categories the candidates are scored. The marks will be awarded based on the language skill of all the 4 categories. The total test duration will be 2 hours 45 minutes.
Check here for detailed IELTS Syllabus
Also check, for IELTS Test format
The exam pattern for each of the 4 sections are:
- Listening – The Listening section of the IELTS test is divided into 4 parts, and will have a total of 40 different types of questions.
- Reading – The Reading section of the exam comprises of 3 summaries that deals with issues suitable for the candidate. This section also will have a total of almost 40 questions.
- Writing – The Writing section comprises of two tasks, where you’ll have to write at least 150 words for task 1, and write at least 250 words for task 2. Along with this, there’ll be a diagram, table or data where you’ll have to analyze and write about.
- Speaking – The Speaking section is more like a face-to-face interview where you’ll be marked based on how well you can communicate and speak your thoughts and opinions in English.
Once you’ve started planning to migrate abroad for studies, one of the main downsides is having to pay the higher tuition fees along with the living expenses. To make this process easier, IELTS offer various scholarships and student loans for students interested in pursuing their higher education abroad. Almost every college will provide the details on their official website regarding the scholarship, fellowship and financial grants.
Exam Fees for IELTS
While the IELTS registration fee was initially INR 13,250.
Since 1st April 2020, the registration fee is now revised to INR 14,000.
Exam cancellation fees in IELTS
- If you cancel the application prior to more than 5 weeks of the test date, the candidate receives a refund, deducting 25% of the administrative fees.
- If you cancel the application prior to 5 weeks of the test date, the candidate will not receive the refund.
- In case the candidate registers and does not appear for the exam, then also the amount will not be refunded.
- If any candidate produces a medical certificate within 5 days of the test, the amount will be refunded deducting some administrative fees.
Scoring and Band Scale
Test takers receive a score for each test component – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall IELTS Band Score. Basically, when you get your score report, you’ll be evaluated for each of the four skills on a band of 1 – 9 and you’ll also score an overall band score.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no pass or fail in IELTS, so the cut-off score you’ll have to target for the IELTS exam, will depend on the college or university you’re planning to apply to, as each university’s IELTS score requirement will vary.
Top universities accepting IELTS score
Top universities in the world accept IELTS as a test for English language proficiency. But the minimum requirement varies for different countries. In the UK, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Imperial college London accept IELTS scores. The minimum IELTS score required for pursuing undergraduate courses in these Universities is an IELTS band of 7.0. In Canada, top universities like University of Toronto, British columbia and Mcgill University accept IELTS scores. The minimum IELTS score required for pursuing undergraduate courses in these Universities is an IELTS band of 6.5. In the US, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stranford and Harvard universities accept IELTS scores. The minimum IELTS score required for pursuing undergraduate courses in these Universities is an IELTS band of 7.0.
For a computer-delivered test, IELTS results are released between 5–7 days. For a paper-based test, a Test Report Form is posted to test takers 13 days after their test. The Test Report Forms (TRF) will be valid for two years since the result posting.
How to send IELTS score to universities?
You will receive a TRF (Test Report Form) containing your IELTS scores within 13 days of attempting the IELTS exam.
There are three ways by which TRF can be sent to universities. They request can be made :
1. During the registration process: If you place the request during registration, you have to provide the names and addresses of universities when booking the test on the website of the test center or fill the application form with 5 universities and send it to the nearest test center.
2. Within a month of attempting the exam.
3. After a month of attempting the exam: If you want additional TRFs to be sent to colleges after a month of attempting the IELTS exam , you must fill a form called Application for the Issue of Additional TRFs. Every additional TRF requested post one month period will be charged an extra fee.
Mode of delivery:
You can send your score either as an electronic mail or as a paper TRF . Before deciding on the mode of delivery, check the university’s official website on how they want the scores to be sent. You have to make a payment if you want to send as paper TRFs.
IELTS – In Conclusion
I think at the end of the day, it’s important to understand that IELTS is no more difficult than any other exam. If you do your preparations well, listen to E-books, and practice reading, writing, and speaking in English, you’ll find the IELTS Exam questions quite straightforward. There is no pass or fail in IELTS as the results will be graded on a 9-band scale (1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest). And always remember to check the score you require, as the requirement will vary based on your visa and the institution/organization which you plan to apply for.