IELTS Test Knowledge - Basic Info

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is an English language proficiency exam which measures the ability of test-takers to communicate in the four basic language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

The IELTS is managed by three main institutions: the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). This is important to understand in order to prepare for what is essentially an examination of British and not American English.

Many students who have prepared for or appeared for the TOEFL iBT are surprised when they face difficulties understanding accents and expressions used by British speakers in the IELTS. This is why thorough preparation, at a language school or through self-study, is so essential for success in this exam.

There are two versions of the IELTS exam: general and academic. Test-takers must know in advance which one is needed for their purposes as the scores are not interchangeable. Each test lasts two hours and forty-five minutes. Test takers are required to pay a fee for administration of the exam.

Broadly speaking, the IELTS is taken by those who wish to study, live, or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication. Specifically, the test is taken by three main categories of people:

  • those who want to study in an English-medium school, college, or university in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand
  • those who wish to apply for immigration to countries such as Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • those who need to demonstrate their English proficiency to meet the requirements of professional associations or regulatory bodies in various countries

The IELTS has existed since 1989. Today, over 700,000 people from over 120 countries appear for this exam every year.

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