How to Take an IELTS Test

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, and one of the best recognised English language proficiency tests available. The test is accepted as proof of language ability by 9000 institutions including universities, immigration authorities and multinational companies - and as a result, over 2.2 million people take the IELTS tests annually.

If you want to achieve IELTS accreditation, for work or study, follow these steps.

See also: How to Learn English

1. Choose The Right Test For You

The IELTS tests are written by a team of international writers, in order to ensure that the questions reflect real life situations and language usage. There is an on-going research to ensure the tests remain fair.

There are two different tests to choose from, depending on your situation. The academic test is intended for people wishing to study in a tertiary education institution where teaching is in English. The general test is for people who either wish to work, attend secondary school or migrate to an English speaking country.

Both tests use the same listening and speaking papers, but the written and reading tests differ according to the different needs of these groups. In both cases the test duration is around 2 hours and 45 minutes in total.

2. Prepare For Your Test

To prepare for the test you need to understand the test format and ensure your language skills are at a suitable level in order to achieve the desired result.

The test consists of four elements which test listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The listening, reading and writing tests are always taken on the same day, but the speaking test may be on a different day depending on the centre’s availability. The listening test lasts 30 minutes, the speaking between 11-14 minutes, and the other two tests are 60 minutes each.

Some test centres offer workshops to help you in your general language learning and help prepare you for the test. If this is not available, you can improve your language skills online or with face to face classes, discussion groups or language courses.

3. Practise For Your Test

Once you are confident that your language ability matches the test requirements, you should make yourself comfortable with the test format and style.

Practice test materials are available - see the IELTS website for some samples to get you started. Additional practice test materials can be purchased online via the IELTS site, or through local centres. There are two volumes of official materials available which include a CD or DVD to help you practice.


4. Book Your Test

You can take your IELTS test at a local test centre - with over 1000 test centres in 140 countries across the globe, you should be able to find one near you. Visit the IELTS website to search for test centres and the dates for the upcoming tests.

5. Take The Test

Once you’ve prepared for your test, the only thing left to do is to actually sit it. There are more tips and ideas about how to make sure the day goes smoothly for you here. With suitable preparation you should be able to enter the exam room feeling confident - and the test centre staff will do everything they can to help you feel comfortable.

6. Receive And Understand Your Results

You will receive your test results 13 calendar days after the test.

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There are no passes or fails in this test, but rather each test element will be graded from 1-9 to reflect capability. This means that you will receive a series of scores - one for each of the four test elements and also one overall band score from 1-9. Your certificate will be posted to you and it will be valid for two years. It is important to keep it safe. If you need your results for a university application, they can be passed directly to the institution for free, meaning you have one less thing to worry about.

IELTS tests are a great way to demonstrate your language proficiency. You may be asked to provide test results if you move to an English speaking country, or if you are applying to work or study in one. The good news is that with millions of people taking this test every year, there are many useful sources of information and ideas about how to practise and prepare. Spend some time using these ideas as a starting point, and add in your own research to suit your personal needs and preferences, and give you the best chance to succeed in IELTS.