IELTS Exam: Everything You Want to Know

IELTS (Full form-International English Language Testing System) is an English language examination, that is undertaken by international students who are willing to study or work in a country where English is the primary language for communication.

UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Canada are the most popular countries accepting IELTS for university admissions. The test is conducted to examine the test-takers ability on four key skills of the English language – reading, listening, speaking and writing. IDP Education Australia, British Council, and Cambridge English Language Assessment jointly own and conduct the IELTS examination.

Recent Updates in IELTS

Reaching a record of 3.5 million tests in the year 2018, IELTS has become a leader in the arena of international higher education. 100% of universities in the UK and Australia accepts IELTS score.  Also, it is accepted in more than 3,400 institutions in the US and thousands of institutions in English speaking countries.

Why IELTS Exam is required?

In English speaking countries like Australia, UK, New Zealand, USA and Canada, IELTS exam is required for migration as well as academic purposes. IELTS is the only English Language Test that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa applicants applying both outside and inside the UK. The students at large are confused about why the IELTS scores required.

It is an important requirement because the foreign universities and visa granting authorities need to be sure that you will not have any issues in communication while staying in the country. A good understanding and strong command of the English language is necessary, hence making IELTS score so important.

Students also suffer the doubt whether the IELTS is a compulsory exam or not. No, it is not compulsory for all university admissions. There are universities which don’t require IELTS score for admissions. But, not appearing for IELTS might affect the chances of getting the student visa as the visa officers may not be convinced about your command of the English language without the IELTS score. Thus, to be on the safer side, it is better to appear for IELTS with minimum 6 bands overall.

You can take the IELTS exam with the British Council or IDP up to once a week (four times a month). The British Council and IDP global schedule for test dates are 48 days per year.

Types of IELTS

There are two types of IELTS exams: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Listening and speaking sections are the same for both these tests, however, the two tests differ on the subject matter for the writing and reading sections. While the Reading, Writing and Listening sections of the IELTS tests are completed on the same day of the test with no breaks between them, the Speaking section can be completed either a week before or after the other tests date.

Read More About IELTS Exam Format

IELTS Academic Test

IELTS Academic is taken by those applicants who are willing to pursue higher education or looking for professional registration abroad.

IELTS General Test

IELTS General Test is taken by those who are willing to migrate to major English speaking countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK. This test is also taken by those who want to enroll in training programs or secondary education or want to gain work experience in a country where English is the main language used for communication.

IELTS Highlights

Exam NameIELTS
IELTS full formInternational English Language Testing System
Official Website
Most popular forThe study, work, and migration to English speaking countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK
Also accepted byCanada and the USA
Conducted byBritish Council and IDP Education Ltd
Mode of ExamComputer and Paper – delivered test
IELTS FeeRs. 13,250
Score RangeOn a scale of 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest)
IELTS Contact
British Council
0120-4569000 / 0120-6684353, Mon-Sat 09.00 to 18.00
Email: [email protected]
IDP Head Office
+91-124-4445999/ 1800-102-4544
Email: [email protected]



Often international students get confused between the option to take IELTS or TOEFL. It is completely up to you to choose which test to undertake, but remember that IELTS is more preferred in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, while TOEFL is popular among applicants to universities in the US and Canada.

IELTS Eligibility

IELTS can be taken by anyone irrespective of age, gender, race, nationality or religion, however, the IELTS test is not recommended for those under 16 years of age.

What is the age limit to appear for the IELTS exam?

Minimum age requirement is lowered for language requirements for Canadian citizenship: Due to changes in the Citizenship Act in Canada, the minimum age that applicants have to prove their language proficiency for Canadian citizenship has been lowered. From June 2015, applicants between the ages of 14-64 who wish to move to Canada have to meet language requirements set by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

How many attempts can be given for IELTS?

There is no limit set by the conducting bodies of IELTS for taking the IELTS exam. The exam can be taken as many times as you wish until you achieve your desired score.

What is the educational eligibility to give IELTS exam?

There are no minimum eligibility criteria for IELTS set by the conducting bodies of IELTS.

No minimum educational eligibility is set by the conducting bodies of IELTS.

Applicants who wish to pursue higher studies abroad or want to work abroad can attempt the IELTS exam (both Academic and General Training).

However, candidates should always check the eligibility criteria set by the educational institution or organization where they want to apply.

Read More About IELTS Eligibility Criteria

How does IELTS work?

IELTS test is used to test the English language skills of an individual. The individuals are assessed on the bases of their Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills.

  • IELTS for Study: Choosing IELTS for study can be of huge advantage for candidates as IELTS is accepted by more than 10,000 education institutions globally.
  • IELTS for Work: Various professional organizations and employers across the world accept IELTS to select the right candidate. The importance of communication felt at the time of working. There are many industries that accept the IELTS test for testing the language proficiency of the candidates.
  • IELTS for immigration: Every country has its own set of guidelines for IELTS. Like in Australia it is accepted for permanent residency and various Visa categories. Those applying to Canada for a work visa, permanent residency or professional purpose are required to take IELTS General Test.

Who conducts IELTS?

IELTS test is jointly owned by:

  • British Council
  • IDP IELTS Australia (International Development Program)
  • Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

The candidates may have doubts about the best organizer for IELTS, British Council or IDP? Where they should take the IELTS test? There is no difference between both the agencies, whether you take IELTS from the British Council or IDP. So, you can take the IELTS exam conducted by any of the two agencies.

Read More About IELTS Test Centers

IELTS Registration

Applicants should keep their passports handy. Also, the applicants have to carry their passports on the day of the test. IELTS Registration can be done in easy steps:

  • First, you need to visit the official British Council registration page.
  • Create an account with the British Council.
  • Find your nearest test center.
  • Register for the IELTS test and pay online.

Anyone below the age of 18 will require a parent or guardian to fill out the form. After the registration gets completed, your test center will send you a confirmation and a notification regarding the date and time of your IELTS.

Read More About IELTS Registration

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IELTS Exam Fees

The registration fee for IELTS is Rs. 13,250.

What is IELTS Cancellation Fees?

  • On canceling the application five weeks before the test date you will receive the refund minus 25% administrative fee.
  • If you cancel the IELTS exam less than five weeks ahead of the test date, you will receive no refund.
  • In case you fail to appear for the test, then also you will not receive any refund. This is also considered as cancellation.

Producing a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date receive the refund after deducting the local administrative cost.

What is IELTS Rescheduling Fees?

To change your test date, a request for test day transfer should be made at least five weeks before the booked test date.

You have to make sure that your new test date is within 3 months from the previous test date.

IELTS Scholarships

Hefty tuition fees combined with high living expenses act as a major drawback for students studying abroad. Such reasons hinder students from going abroad for studies and other alternative purposes. However, IELTS scholarships and student loans can help you. Details about scholarships, fellowships, and grants are listed regularly on the official website. Education loans from financial institutions are also an option for students.

Read More About IELTS Waiver for the Top Universities

IELTS Important Dates

British Council and IDP IELTS are the two official conducting bodies of the IELTS Exam.

The IELTS test is available multiple times throughout the year. IELTS examination is conducted multiple times in a year. Test dates should be booked according to the convenience of the student and also keeping the university admission timeline in mind. Students should keep enough buffer with the university timeline to avoid any error at the last moment.

Read More About IELTS Dates & Deadlines

IELTS Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Understanding the IELTS test pattern and syllabus in detail is very important to excel in the exam. IELTS Syllabus includes four sections, Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Marking is done on these four sections and an IELTS total score is made as well. The total score is the sum of the scores in the four skill areas. The total test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Read More About IELTS Exam Syllabus

Here is the IELTS paper pattern – At a Glance

The IELTS Exam consists of four sections:

  • IELTS Listening section
  • IELTS Reading section
  • IELTS Writing section
  • IELTS Speaking section

How is IELTS Scored?

IELTS is designed to assess English language skills at all levels.

The IELTS examination is used to test the English language commands at all levels

The total score in the exam is cumulative of the individual band scores from the four sections in the paper. The IELTS score is based on the band of 1-9 for each skill and also an overall band score is given. A fair idea about the scoring pattern is necessary to understand how the IELTS score will be calculated.

Read More About IELTS Exam Score

How to get your IELTS Exam Result?

Once you appeared for the examination, you have to wait for the result. The results for IELTS are declared within a fortnight. While, if the candidate has appeared for a computer-based exam the results get declared within 5-7 days.

  • Offline Mode: For offline or paper-based test, you will receive your results within 13 calendar day from the day of your exam.
  • Online Mode: On the day of your result, you will be notified from the test center. You can simply login with your ID, password, passport number, and test date information to view your result. From the time of declaration of result, your results will be available online for the next 28 days

Read More About IELTS Exam Results

IELTS Band Scale


 BandSkill LevelMeaning
Band 9Expert userHas fully operational command of the language
Band 8Very good userFully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies
Band 7Good userHas operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies and misunderstandings in some situations
Band 6Competent userCan use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations
Band 5Modest userHas partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes
Band 4Limited userHave frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language
Band 3Extremely limited userConveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns occur in communication
Band 2Intermittent userHas great difficulty understanding spoken and written English
Band 1Non-userEssentially cannot use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words
Band 0Did not attempt the testNo assessable information provided


Read More About IELTS Band Score

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IELTS Score Validity Period

IELTS score is valid for two years from the time you obtain your results.

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IELTS Results

The waiting time for the IELTS result is long as the results are released with a week (if online candidate) or 13 days (if offline candidate) with the date of the test. The applicant shall receive a notification about results via email. You can access the results by logging into IELTS account on the IELTS website.


IELTS exam is used to test the command over the English language of students at all levels. Thus, students cannot fail the test. The students are scored in a band of 1-9 for four different skills and also a cumulative band score. The cut-off for IELTS score varies for different colleges and programs. Not all colleges and universities require students to qualify in the IELTS test. It is the overall IELTS band score that matters the most if you are willing to apply for university, job or immigrate to a country having English as the main language.

Colleges Accepting IELTS

IELTS is an exam that opens up an array of opportunities for the applicant. IELTS exam is accepted by more than 10,000 organizations across 140 counties. These include professional organizations, schools, colleges, and universities. The test assesses the use of the English language of the candidate at work or study, which depicts his/her proficiency in managing communications abroad. With more than 3 million exams every year, IELTS is the most popular English language test.

Countries Accepting IELTS Score

More than 140 countries, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada, accepts IELTS exam score.

For any purpose – study, work or immigration, you can appear for IELTS exam and apply to your preferred country. However, you should check the university requirements for IELTS too.

Read More About IELTS Scores in Canada

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IELTS 2020 Preparation Tips

There are two major ways in which you can prepare for IELTS – either through self-study or attending coaching classes. The way you chose depends upon various factors like language proficiency and comfort level. A candidate who is already fluent in the English language can prepare for the exam through self-preparation. Also, if financial terms are a problem then, self-study is a better option.

If you feel time constraint and need professional help, them coaching classes should be a viable option. Attending coaching classes regularly can help you with better time management.

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