IELTS Questions

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is widely recognized as a test of language ability of candidates who need to study or study or work where English is the language of communication.

What is the purpose of the IELTS test?

Candidates can choose to take either the Academic or General Training IELTS module. The IELTS Academic module is intended to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication. The IELTS General Training module is intended for candidates who are going to English-speaking countries to complete their secondary education, to undertake work experience or training programmes not at degree level, or for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Who accepts IELTS scores?

IELTS tests are held in over 120 countries round the world and taken by around 1.5 million people each year. The test is recognized by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. It is also recognized by professional bodies (including medical authorities), immigration authorities and other government agencies. Details of organizations recognizing IELTS are available on the IELTS website

What does the test consist of?

IELTS includes tests of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Although the Academic and General Training modules have different Reading and Writing papers, candidates of both modules are tested on the same Listening and Speaking papers.

Who manages IELTS?

IELTS is jointly managed by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. IELTS conforms to the highest international standards of language assessment.

Where can candidates take IELTS?

There are currently more than 1,100 test centers in over 100 countries worldwide. IELTS test centers around the world are managed by British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia. In the USA, IELTS centers are managed by IELTS International. Test centers are listed here.

When can candidates take IELTS?

IELTS Academic modules are administered on 48 fixed dates each year. General Training modules are administered on 24 fixed dates each year.

How much does it cost to take IELTS?

IELTS is delivered at a fixed price in each country. As a guide, the fee for the tests (both Academic and General) was £175 in the UK in 2019. This price is made up of a standard central fee and a variable local fee. Details of centre locations, test dates and fees can be accessed from IELTS test location and test fees page.

How do I register for the IELTS?

To register for the test you need to download a copy of the IELTS application form (PDF file) or ask your test centre for a copy.

You need to return:

  • a completed and signed application form
  • your fee for the test (payment by credit/debit card is widely accepted; some centres accept online payments and some accept a cheque/postal order)
  • a photocopy of your passport (or a photocopy of an EU National ID card)
  • two identical, colour, passport-size photos that are less than six months old, and without glasses being worn

Is the IELTS test completed in one day?

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of the test are always completed immediately after each other and in this same order. The Speaking test can be taken up to 7 days either before or after the test date.

What can I bring into the examination room?

  • A valid passport (or an EU National ID card), not a photocopy
  • At least two pens, two pencils, an eraser and a pencil sharpener (but no pencil case)
  • Water to drink, in a transparent bottle.

You must leave anything which you do not need, or which is not allowed, either outside the examination room, or as instructed by the supervisor. Mobile phones must be switched off and placed with personal belongings in the area designated by the supervisor. Any candidate who does not switch off their phone, or who retains one in their possession, will be disqualified.

What kind of accents will I hear in the Listening and Speaking tests?

As IELTS is an international test, a variety of English accents are used in both of these examinations.

Will the listening tape provide me with all the necessary instructions and pauses?

Yes. At the beginning of the test, candidates receive instructions and hear a sample question. Next, candidates read Section One questions and then listen to Section One and answer the questions on the question paper as they listen. The same procedure follows for Sections Two, Three and Four. This takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. In the final ten minutes, candidates transfer their answers onto the answer sheet.

Can I complete the Listening and Reading answer sheet in pen?

No. The answer sheet is scanned by a computer which cannot read pen.

Can I make some notes on the Listening and Reading Question paper?

Yes. The examiner will not see your question paper.

What is the Speaking test?

The Speaking test is conducted as a one-to-one interview with a certified examiner. Each test lasts between 11 - 14 minutes. There are three parts to the test which give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate a range of different speaking skills. The test is recorded so that it can be re-marked if needed. The examiner will not give the candidate any feedback on their performance.

What should I bring for the Speaking test?

You need to bring the same identification documents you supplied on registration, as these must be checked again against the information on the application form. These documents will be checked by the administrator and the Speaking examiner prior to you entering the interview room.

When will I receive my results?

Under normal circumstances, you will receive your Test Report Forms approximately 13 days after you complete the test.

How long is the result valid for?

Your IELTS score is valid for two years. You may have to sit the test again if your test result is more than two years old.

What are the similarities and differences between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?

Key similarities:

  • The Listening and Speaking components are the same for both versions. The distinction between ‘academic’ and ‘general’ literacy has traditionally been seen as most marked ‘general’ literacy has traditionally been seen as most marked oriented language skills of listening and speaking are equally important in an academic study or professional context.
  • The same amount of time is allocated to complete the Listening and Speaking components in both the General Training and Academic Versions.
  • The Reading and Writing components are the same length in both versions.
  • Both modules have the same minimum word requirement.
  • The same assessment criteria and 9-band scale is used to grade both modules.


The Reading component of the Academic and General Training versions is differentiated in terms of:

  • the choice of texts (topic, genre, length, number, etc)
  • the level of difficulty of the 40 test items. The Academic Reading module has more items pitched at bands 5-8, whereas the General Training has more items pitched at bands 3-6. This is a reflection of the different demands of Academic and General Training.

For Writing, the Academic and General Training modules are differentiated in terms of:

  • the content and nature of the two writing tasks.
  • the contextual parameters of the tasks.

However, given the level of differentiation described above, this does not mean that the scores across Academic and General Training Reading or Writing modules are interchangeable.

How to become an IELTS examiner?

All IELTS examiner applicants must:

  • be native speakers of English or a non-native speaker with an IELTS band score of 9 in the Speaking and Writing components
  • hold relevant qualifications in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (or equivalent)
  • have substantial relevant teaching experience post-qualification.

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