WHAT IS IELTS?


IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who want to study or work where English is the language of communication.

IELTS is recognised by over 6,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, employers, professional bodies, immigration authorities
and other government agencies.

Accessible and convenient
IELTS is offered up to four times a month in more than 125 countries. Tests are usually on Saturdays or Thursdays. To find out test dates in your area, please contact your nearest IELTS test centre. A list of all IELTS
test centres worldwide is available at www.ielts.org

The international test
IELTS is internationally focused in its content. For example, a range of native-speaker accents (North American, Australian, New Zealand, and British) is used in the Listening test, and all standard varieties of English are accepted in candidates’ responses in all parts of the test.

The test that’s tried and trusted
IELTS has been developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment, and is supported by an extensive programme of research,
validation and test development.

A choice of two versions to better meet your needs

IELTS is the four-skill test that has become the world’s most popular English language proficiency test. IELTS offers a choice of two versions, to serve both academic and non-academic purposes.

The format each version takes has remained consistent since 1995.

You can select the version that best suits the needs of your organisation.

Both Academic and General Training versions are graded using the same criteria. The distinction between the Academic version and the General Training version lies in the subject matter of the Reading and Writing components.

IELTS Academic

IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher learning environment. The tasks and texts are accessible to all test-takers, irrespective of their subject focus.

IELTS General Training

IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations.

Listening

Timing: Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time)

Questions: There are 40 questions

A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, short-answer questions

Test Parts: There are 4 sections

Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency)

Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference)

Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project)

Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture)

Each section is heard once only

A variety of voices and native-speaker accents is used

Skills assessed: A wide range of listening skills is assessed, including understanding of main ideas and specific factual information; recognising opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker; and following the development of an argument

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale

Scores are reported in whole and half bands

Reading

Timing: 60 minutes (no extra transfer time)

Questions: There are 40 questions
A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flowchart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions

Test Parts: There are 3 sections
The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words

Academic Reading

Each section contains one long text. Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest. Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided

General Training Reading

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). Topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training)

Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest

Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers

Skills assessed: A wide range of reading skills is assessed, including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail; understanding inferences and implied meaning; recognising a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose; and following the development of an argument

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark
Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale
Scores are reported in whole and half bands

Writing

Timing: 60 minutes

Tasks: There are 2 tasks
Candidates are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2

Test Parts: There are 2 parts

Academic Writing

In Task 1, candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event

In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem

The issues raised are of general interest to, suitable for and easily understood by candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration

Responses to Task 1 and Task 2 should be written in a formal style

General Training Writing

In Task 1, candidates are presented with a situation and are asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style

In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay

Topics are of general interest

Skills assessed: In both tasks, candidates are assessed on their ability to write a response which is appropriate in terms of content, the organisation of ideas, and the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar

Academic Writing

In Task 1, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to organise, present and possibly compare data; to describe the stages of a process or procedure; to describe an object or event or sequence of events; to explain how something works

In Task 2, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to present a solution to a problem; to present and justify an opinion; to compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument

General Training Writing

In Task 1, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to engage in personal correspondence in order to: elicit and provide general factual information; express needs, wants, likes and dislikes; express opinions (views, complaints etc.)

In Task 2, candidates are assessed on their ability to provide general factual information; to outline a problem and present a solution; to present and possibly justify an opinion; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument

Marking: Candidates are assessed on their performance on each task by certified IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS Writing Test Band Descriptors (task achievement/response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy). The public version of the band descriptors can be found at www.ielts.org/ researchers/score_processing_and_reporting.aspx

Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score
Scores are reported in whole and half bands

Speaking

Timing: 11-14 minutes

Tasks: The Speaking test is a 3-part face-to-face oral interview with an examiner
The Speaking test is recorded

Test Parts: There are 3 parts
Part 1 Introduction and interview (4-5 minutes)
The examiner introduces him/herself and asks the candidate to introduce him/herself and confirm his/her identity. The examiner asks the candidate general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests

Part 2 Individual long turn (3-4 minutes)
The examiner gives the candidate a task card which asks the candidate to talk about a particular topic and which includes points which the candidate can cover in their talk. The candidate is given 1 minute to prepare their talk, and is given a pencil and paper to make notes. The candidate talks for 1-2 minutes on the topic. The examiner then asks the candidate one or two questions on the same topic

Part 3 Two-way discussion (4-5 minutes)
The examiner asks further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions give the candidate an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas

Skills assessed: A wide range of speaking skills is assessed, including the ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences and situations by answering a range of questions; the ability to speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language and organising ideas coherently; and the ability to express and justify opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate about issues

Marking: Candidates are assessed on their performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS Speaking Test Band Descriptors (fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, pronunciation). The public version of the band descriptors can be found at www.ielts.org/researchers/ score_processing_and_reporting.aspx Scores are reported in whole and half bands

9-Band scale

You will be given a score from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The average produces your overall band score. You can score whole (e.g., 5.0, 6.0, 7.0) or half (e.g., 5.5., 6.5, 7.5) bands in each part of the test.

Band 9:
Expert User

has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

Band 8:
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.

Band 7:  
Good User

has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

Band 6:  
Competent User

has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band 5:
 Modest User

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.

Band 4:  
Limited User

basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

Band 3:  
Extremely Limited User

conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

Band 2:  
Intermittent User

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.

Band 1:
Non User

essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

Band 0:  
Did not attempt the test

No assessable information provided.