When looking to study abroad for higher education, a popular and widely required exam is the IELTS.

Students from all corners of the world take this test to get into colleges and universities in various countries. But you may be wondering, what exactly is the IELTS, and why is it so important?

Keep reading to learn more about this essential exam and what it entails, as we break it down into simpler terms and help you understand its significance in the world of international education.

What is IELTS? 

IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is a test that measures a person’s ability to use the English language. It is designed for people who want to study, work, or live in English-speaking countries.

The test checks how well a person can understand, read, write, and speak English, making sure they can communicate effectively in an English-speaking environment.

It includes countries like New Zealand, USA, UK, Canada and Australia, Ireland etc. The exam is globally recognized by more than 11,000 universities, schools, immigration bodies, employers which includes 3400 institutions in USA. 

The IELTS test measures your English skills in four main areas: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Experts from around the globe create the test. The score you need depends on the country, school, and program you’re applying to. If you score higher than required, it shows you have a strong understanding of the language.

Band ScroreSkill levelDescription
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.

IELTS Test Score

The IELTS test has a specific format that covers four main sections to assess your English language skills. These sections are:

  1. Listening: This section has 4 parts with a total of 40 questions. You will listen to audio recordings of conversations, lectures, or discussions and answer questions based on what you hear. The Listening section takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
  2. Reading: The Reading section also has 40 questions, divided into 3 parts. For the Academic IELTS, you will read and answer questions about long academic texts. For the General Training IELTS, you will read and answer questions about everyday texts, like newspapers or advertisements. This section takes 60 minutes to complete.
  3. Writing: In the Writing section, you must complete two tasks. For the Academic IELTS, Task 1 requires you to describe a graph, chart, or diagram, while Task 2 is an essay on a given topic. For the General Training IELTS, Task 1 is a letter, and Task 2 is an essay. This section takes 60 minutes to complete.
  4. Speaking: The Speaking section is a face-to-face interview with an examiner, usually lasting between 11-14 minutes. It has 3 parts: an introduction, a topic discussion, and a more in-depth conversation. You will talk about yourself, discuss a given topic, and answer questions related to the topic.

The entire IELTS test takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are completed on the same day, while the Speaking section can be scheduled up to a week before or after the other sections.

How to prepare for the IELTS test

Preparing for the IELTS test depends on the type of exam you are taking – paper based or computer based. When practicing for your paper-based tests, ensure you are covering all your skills including handwriting which becomes an important component in your paper-based test as opposed to computer delivered tests.

There are numerous online courses and practice tests that will help you in obtaining a good score. So, make sure to get proper training before you write the exam. 

IELTS test

Recent updates in IELTS test

You can also take the IELTS test online from 2022, which is a new initiative brought forward after the crippling pandemic that made it hard for thousands of students to attend the exam in examination centers. The new online proctoring platform would help millions of students to take their test from the comfort of their own home. 

If you are planning to study abroad, make sure to check the required IELTS score that is needed to apply for your chosen organization here. If you any further questions on the IELTS exam or about studying abroad, feel free to contact us here.

Countries List

IELTS is widely accepted in numerous countries across the globe. While it is impossible to list every single country, here are some of the major countries where IELTS scores are recognized for education, work, and immigration purposes:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand
  4. United Kingdom
  5. United States
  6. Ireland
  7. South Africa
  8. Singapore
  9. Germany
  10. France
  11. Netherlands
  12. Spain
  13. Italy
  14. Switzerland
  15. Sweden
  1. Norway
  2. Denmark
  3. Finland
  4. Belgium
  5. Austria
  6. Greece
  7. Portugal
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Malaysia
  10. India
  11. Philippines
  12. Thailand
  13. China
  14. Japan
  15. South Korea

This list is not exhaustive, as more than 140 countries accept IELTS scores. It’s essential to check the specific requirements of the country, institution, or organization you are interested in to confirm IELTS acceptance and the minimum score needed.

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