The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by
the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment, and was established in 1989. IELTS is one of the major English-language tests in the world, others being the TOEFL, TOEIC, PTE:A and OPI/OPIc.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organisations across the world.
IELTS is the only Secure English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa
customers applying both outside and inside the UK. It is also a requirement for immigration to
Australia and New Zealand. In Canada, IELTS, TEF, or CELPIP are accepted by the immigration authority.
No minimum score is required to pass the test. An IELTS result or Test Report Form is issued to all test
takers with a score from "band 1" ("non-user") to "band 9" ("expert user") and each institution sets a
different threshold. There is also a "band 0" score for those who did not attempt the test. Institutions are
advised not to consider a report older than two years to be valid, unless the user proves that they have
worked to maintain their level.
In 2014, 2.5 million tests were taken in more than 140 countries, up from 2 million tests in 2012, 1.7
million tests in 2011 and 1.4 million tests in 2009. In 2007, IELTS administered more than one million tests
in a single 12-month period for the first time ever, making it the world's most popular English language
test for higher education and immigration.
IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user.The Academic version is for test takers who want to study at tertiary level in an English-speaking country or seek professional registration.The General Training version is for test takers who want to work, train, study at a secondary school or migrate to an English-speaking country.The difference between the Academic and General Training versions is the content, context and purpose of the tasks. All other features, such as timing allocation, length of written responses and reporting of scores, are the same.IELTS Academic and General Training both incorporate the following features:
- IELTS tests the ability to listen, read, write and speak in English.
- The speaking module is a key component of IELTS. It is conducted in the form of a one-to-one interview with an examiner. The examiner assesses the test taker as he or she is speaking. The speaking session is also recorded for monitoring and for re-marking in case of an appeal against the score given.
- A variety of accents and writing styles have been presented in test materials in order to minimise linguistic bias. The accents in the listening section are generally 80% British, Australian, New Zealander and 20% others (mostly American).
- IELTS is developed by experts at Cambridge English Language Assessment with input from item writers from around the world. Teams are located in the USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other English-speaking nations.
- Band scores are used for each language sub-skill (Listening, Reading, Writing, and
Speaking). The Band Scale ranges from 0 ("Did not attempt the test") to 9 ("Expert User").
IELTS Test Structure
There are two modules of the IELTS:
- Academic Module and
- General Training Module There is also a separate test offered by the IELTS test partners, called IELTS Life Skills:
- IELTS Academic is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practise in an English-speaking country.
- IELTS General Training is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.
- IELTS Life Skills is intended for those who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 or B1 and can be used to apply for a ‘family of a settled person’ visa, indefinite leave to remain or citizenship in the UK.
The IELTS test has four parts
- Listening: 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes' transfer time)
- Reading: 60 minutes
- Writing: 60 minutes
- Speaking: 11–14 minutes
The test total time is: 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Listening, Reading and Writing are completed in one sitting. The Speaking test may be taken on
the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests.
All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests, while the Reading and Writing tests
differ depending on whether the test taker is taking the Academic or General Training versions
of the test.
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 Band Score.
There is no pass or fail. IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest half band.The following rounding convention applies: if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in 5.75, it is rounded up to the next whole band. The nine bands are described as follows:
||Did not attempt the test
||No assessable information provided at all.
|| Non User
||Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
||No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
|| Extremely Limited User
||Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
||Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
||Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
||Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
||Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
||Very Good User
||Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may
occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
||Has full operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
IELTS and the CEFR
|IELTS Band Score
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