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Facts About IELTS

Many people have heard of IELTS, and they know that it is an important test for access to many English speaking countries around the world. But many people aren’t quite sure exactly what it entails, where it came from and why it is so important.

Let us help you to fill in the blanks! In the section below, you will find the answers to common questions asked about IELTS.

What does IELTS stand for?

IELTS stands for ‘International English Language Testing System’.

What does IELTS test?

IELTS tests English language proficiency. It is designed for non-native English speakers to prove their level of ability in the English language in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Who is IELTS for?

IELTS is generally for people who want to live, work or study abroad. If you are looking to migrate to an English speaking country, immigration often requires applicants to take the IELTS tests and achieve a specific score. Likewise, many universities will also require international students to take the IELTS tests if they are seeking a degree that is conducted in English.

Why IELTS?

IELTS is an internationally recognised test, accepted by many universities and governments around the world. In fact, IELTS is the most popular test of English proficiency for those looking to study or move abroad. On average, 3 million people take the test globally every year.

How long is my IELTS test score valid for?

IELTS test scores are valid for a period of two years. After this, you will need to retake the test if you require a valid IELTS score.

How many times can a candidate take the IELTS test?

The great news is that there is no limit on how many times you can take the IELTS test. So you can keep working on improving your English and improving your score!

What is a good IELTS score?

The scoring system for IELTS is based on a band system from 0-9. The score from each section (reading, writing, listening, speaking) is combined to form an average score. This average score places the candidate in one of the following bands:

0 = Did not attempt the test

1 = Non-user

2 = Intermittent user

3 = Extremely limited user

4 = Limited user

5 = Modest user

6 = Competent user

7 = Good user

8 = Very good user

9 = Expert user

What is the minimum IELTS score that I should achieve for working or studying abroad?

There is no set score that is universally accepted for applications. All immigration departments and universities in each country have their own rules regarding the required IELTS scores of applicants. For instance, those looking to migrate to New Zealand as an employee of an existing business need to achieve an IELTS score of at least 5, whereas those moving over as a skilled migrant are required to have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5.

It is highly recommended that you check carefully on the immigration/university website of the country you wish to move to before starting your IELTS journey. You need to understand the best path for you to take for immigration purposes and the required IELTS score for that path.

Computer-Based vs Paper-Based IELTS Tests

For the reading, writing and listening IELTS paper, you are able to select whether you want to take the computer-based or paper-based test. Many users are unsure of the differences between these two paths. In this article, we will explore how each test works and its advantages and disadvantages.

Quick Facts

  • The paper-based and computer-based tests include the same content – the only difference is where your answers are shown and recorded.
  • The paper-based and computer-based tests are also marked according to the same criteria.
  • The timings and format of the reading and writing tests are the same in both the paper-based and computer-based tests.
  • The timing of the listening test is slightly different, depending on whether you are taking the paper-based or computer-based test. In the paper-based listening test, there are 10 minutes allocated at the end of the test for answers to be transferred onto the answer sheet. In the computer-based test, there is no need for this as you will fill answers in on the screen as you go along. Instead, two minutes will be provided for checking through the answers you have inputted.

Pros of the Computer-Based Test

  • If you are a fast typer, and better at typing than writing, you would benefit from taking the computer-based test. However, if you are a slow typer, the paper-based test is recommended for you.
  • The questions and texts that you must read in the test are displayed on a computer screen, so the text is of a good size and well-illuminated. This could make the text easier to read for some people.
  • Whilst the paper-based and computer-based tests are marked according to the same criteria, the way in which they are marked is different. Therefore, the results of computer-based tests can be published more quickly.
  • Currently, the paper-based test is more popular. Therefore, the exam rooms for the computer-based test are often emptier. If you don’t like the feel of a crowded exam room, this could be a preferred choice for you.
  • As more people tend to take the paper-based test, it may be easier to find a good time slot for your test if you take the computer-based test.

Cons of the Computer-Based Test

  • If you have poor typing skills, this is not the right route for you. Only choose to take the computer-based test if you have good typing skills.
  • At the end of each test, the computer screens will be locked. This means no last-minute changes can be made. The timer on the screen displays only minutes (not seconds), and so you will not know when the screen will be locked in the final minute.
  • If you like to take notes, you may find you are spending time going between working on paper and pen and recording your answers on the computer. For some people, this may be too fussy and time-consuming.
  • You may find you have spent a lot of time preparing for the IELTS tests by working on paper. This will make you unprepared for the computer-based test. If you are going to take the computer-based test, be sure to spend time practising this type of test first.

About IELTS

The International English Language Testing System, known more commonly as IELTS, is the ultimate English test. Whether you wish to study, live or work in an English speaking country, IELTS is the only test you need to take. IELTS has been developed to test the English proficiency of non-native English speakers.

Have you ever dreamed of living in Australia? Or the United States of America? Or even the UK? Well, IELTS can help to get you there. IELTS is recognised and trusted by numerous countries around the world, including governments and universities in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In fact, there are over 10,000 organisations globally that recognise IELTS, so you can be sure that an IELTS qualification won’t go to waste.

IELTS focuses on testing four core areas of English proficiency: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The total time for the test is just 2 hours and 45 minutes. Within each area, there is a nine-band grading system ranging from 1 (non-user of English) through to band 9 (expert user of English).

There are also two different types of IELTS tests available, depending on your individual needs for the qualification. If you are looking to migrate to an English speaking country, you are recommended to take the General Training path. This test focuses more on the English that is required in social and workplace settings. This test is also the path that is most commonly required for immigration purposes. If you are pursuing higher education or a professional qualification English, you are recommended to take the Academic Training path. This route includes more academic language and focuses on English for studying or training. Both of these paths include the four core areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening. The main difference is the subject content in the materials used.

To ensure the testing process is fair, IELTS only tests your English language skills. Subject-based knowledge does not form any part of the assessment. IELTS also recognises and accepts variations of ‘native speaker English’, such as British and North American variations to spellings and vocabulary. In addition, a number of quality control procedures have been put in place for rigorous checking of testing centres to ensure fairness in the IELTS testing process all around the globe. This includes strict checking procedures on marking, such as double marking and the use of a results verification service. If any uncertainty of score is raised, IELTS will arrange for tests to be re-marked by one of its senior examiners.

To ensure that the tests are fair and not culturally biased, questions are regularly tested on people from various cultures and countries.

IELTS is incredibly accessible to people all over the globe. Offering both paper-based and computer-based testing systems, IELTS centres are found in more than 1,600 locations in over 140 countries. In fact, there are now test centres in most countries. Every year, there are 48 test dates, meaning that you can sign up to take the test whenever you are ready.