The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

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Sarah Peddie

If English is not your first language and you are looking to emigrate to a country where English is the working language then you need to take an IELTS test which is an English test used for study, migration and work. It is used in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and many other countries.

Not heard of it before? No worries, we are here to take you through all the ins and outs and all the information you need if you are looking to take this test. 

What is it?

The International English Language Testing System is an international test of English language proficiency for non-native English speakers. It is an accepted qualification by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and American academic institutions and many professional organisations. 

It is the only English language test approved by UK visas and immigration. It also meets requirements for immigration to Australia and New Zealand. In Canada it is one of three tests that are accepted by their immigration authority. 

Which module should I take?

The structure of the IELTS consists of two different modules - Academic and General. 

If you are intending to go over and work in the country of your choice then the Academic module is the one for you as this module is meant for professionals like doctors who want to study or practise in an English speaking country. 

What does the test consist of?

The test itself consists of four different parts - listening, reading, writing and speaking and the total time for the test is two hours and 45 minutes.

Click here to check out the full format breakdown of the test. 

Where can I take the test?

You can book a test online via the IELTS website where you can pick a test centre near you from more than 140 countries around the world in around 1,200 locations. Find out where your nearest test centre is.

There are usually up to 48 test dates available every year and the Academic module is available on every date. 

How can I prepare?

If you take a look on the IELTS website then you will be able to find some materials and also tutors to help you prepare for your exam. 

EnglishScore Tutors is a personal service which can offer you a 30 minute, one-to-one online lesson via video with British Council approved tutors. Tutors are available 24/7 including weekends so lesions can be planned around your busy schedule.

If you are looking to prepare for the test then there are plenty of online materials to help you along the way. There are a whole load of different materials that are online and very easy to access including free practice tests, preparation courses, free webinars and computer-delivered preparation. 

Preparation materials can be seen here.

What about the test results?

Test takers will receive a for for each of the test’s components - listening, reading, writing and speaking. The scores are then averaged and produce an overall band score.

There is no pass or fail as the test is scored on a nine-band scale. Each score corresponds to a specific level of competence in English. 

For professionals like doctors - institutions usually look for a mean score of 7.5 with a minimum score of 7 in each section. 

How long is it valid for?

Usually, test results are valid for two years from the date that you took the test. 

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