Originating in the early 1980s as an association between Cambridge University and the British Council, IELTS which stands for International English Language Testing System is a comprehensive English test covering all four major areas of English language studies: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
The test itself takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete, and must be taken at a licensed IELTS testing centre under monitored conditions. Most students opt to take an IELTS preparation course in order to prepare for the exam.
There is a choice between the IELTS Academic format which is focused on university study, and the IELTS General format which is suitable for immigration purposes.
Who is IELTS for?
IELTS exams are most commonly taken by those looking to study in an English-speaking country, or those looking to relocate to an English-speaking country to find employment.
When you don’t have English as a first language, universities and the majority of employers will ask for proof of your level of English; by taking IELTS, you can provide official proof that your communication skills match that required by the university or the company.
While some institutions accept any form of English language certification, some specifically require IELTS.
Which countries accept IELTS and what are the requirements?
In the United Kingdom, IELTS is one of the most commonly accepted proofs of a person’s ability to communicate in English. The grades you need to obtain depend of various factors, including which tier visa you’re applying for and what your occupation is. You can find a full list of entry requirements on the UK visas and immigration website.
If you are seeking entry into Canada, you must select the General IELTS format, rather than the Academic IELTS format, as this is a specific requirement. The grades you need to achieve depend on several different factors; the best way to determine what you need is by using this calculator or by visiting the language requirements page on the Canadian immigration website.
Anyone looking to obtain residency in Australia must receive a score of 60 or more on the Australian Skilled Points Test; an IELTS score of 8 or more in each component contributes 20 points, more than 7 in each contributes 10 points, any less than 7 does not contribute any points. You can find a list of language requirements on the Australia immigration website.
For those looking at moving to New Zealand, the person making the application must have an overall band score of 6.5 or above and their certificate must be less than two years old. Exemptions are given to those who have a recognised qualification from a course taught entirely in English. You can find out more about language eligibility for New Zealand immigration on their website.
Why take IELTS?
- You will receive certification to prove your English language skills; this official certification is accepted by hundreds of educational institutions and employers.
- The qualification is recognised around the world, broadening your range of academic and professional opportunities.
- Flexibility in terms of test dates and locations, meaning that you can choose whichever suits you best.
IELTS test dates
IELTS tests are held regularly throughout the year, up to four times a month. You can sign up with us at any time of year and - once you are ready - we can help you book a test at an approved centre.
Find out more about The Language Gallery’s IELTS preparation course.