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Frequently Asked Questions About IELTS

IELTS stands for “International English Language Testing System”.  It’s a system for testing the language ability for people who need to study or work in an environment where English is the language of communication. It is jointly managed by Cambridge English Language Assessment, the British Council and IDP Education.  It was established in 1989 and is one of the two major English-language tests in the world (TOEFL being the other).

IELTS is accepted by most British, Canadian, Australian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions.  Over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States and various professional organisations across the world also accept IELTS. It is now a requirement for people wishing to immigrate to Australia and New Zealand and is also accepted by immigration authorities in Canada.

The IELTS Academic format is for people who want to study or train in an English-speaking university or Institution of Higher and Further Education. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses is based on the results of the Academic test. IELTS Academic may also be a requirement to join a professional organisation in an English-speaking country.

The General Training format of the test is typically for school, work or migration.  The General Training format focuses on general survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. It is typically for those who are going to English-speaking countries to do secondary education, work experience or training programs. People migrating to Australia, Canada and New Zealand must sit the General Training test.

Every organisation sets its own entry requirements. In some cases both versions of IELTS may be accepted. For more information about who accepts IELTS and what version you will need to sit, visit www.ielts.org and search ‘Who accepts IELTS?’.

If you are not sure whether you should sit the Academic format or General Training format of the IELTS test, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind.

Generally speaking, select the IELTS Academic option if:

  • you will be training at a university – undergraduate or postgraduate studies

You should select the IELTS General Training format if:

  • you are immigrating to an English-speaking country
  • you are going to an English-speaking country to complete Secondary School training
  • you will be doing non-academic work experience or training programs

IELTS has more than 900 test centres and locations in more than 130 countries. You can search for your nearest test centre by country and territories, and city at the official IELTS website.  Simply go to www.ielts.org, locate the ‘Find an IELTS test’ link and click on your country.  Once you have found your country, you will be able to easily search for upcoming IELTS test locations, dates and costs.

The IELTS test will take most of the day, so make sure you are mentally and physically ready.  You should arrive early to allow enough time for registration and to be seated for the test. If you arrive late, you may not be allowed to sit the test.  No personal items may be taken into the test room. IELTS staff will collect and safely store your personal belongings. Items which are forbidden in the test room include: dictionaries, notes, cameras, mobile phones, hand-held computers, books and wallets.

When you arrive on test day, an IELTS staff member will check your identification (ID). You are not permitted to speak to any other candidates.  On your desk, you are only allowed to have your identification, pens/pencils, an eraser and a bottle of drink in a transparent bottle. If you have a problem (for example, you may have been given the wrong paper or you cannot hear the instructions) you should speak to a supervisor.  IELTS staff will not help you with any of the questions!

You cannot leave your seat until your papers have been collected and you have been told to leave. If you finish the test early you must wait quietly until the test is finished and you are advised that you can leave. You must leave any notes and materials on the desk.  Make sure you collect your belongings. You will be able to see your results 13 calendar days after the test.  Your results are available online, you can collect your certificate in person or have it posted to you.

Online learning is here to stay and the benefits of preparing for IELTS online are significant. A recent *survey involving several thousand university leaders in the USA pointed out that the number of students studying online has increased dramatically over the past decade. The same report shows that almost 70% of higher learning institutions see online learning as critical to their success. In other words, a majority of universities consider online learning as an important and major part of their university courses.

Some students worry that online learning is not as good as face-to-face learning, they feel that the best way to learn is in a physical classroom with a live teacher. This concern is not supported in the research. The survey pointed out that over 80% of academic leaders in universities consider online learning to be either ‘better’ or ‘as good as’ face-to-face learning.

Taking advantage of the internet as a way to learn is not only growing in popularity, it is also seen by educational leaders as an excellent way to learn. As our testimonials show, Scott’s English Success has proven extremely effective in helping students to prepare online for their IELTS test and a number of students have stated that it is more effective than their previous classroom experience.

*Babson Survey Research Group, 2014.

Your IELTS band score will be given to you as a number between 0 (Did not attempt the test) and 9 (Expert User).  A band score is not always expressed as a whole number but may be something like 6.5 or 7.5.  You will receive a band score in each of the 4 modules – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.  Your four scores will be averaged to arrive at an Overall Band Score.  Your goal is to achieve as high an Overall Band Score as possible. 

There is not a pass or fail measure in the IELTS test, but you will have a target band score that you are aiming to achieve.   The band scores you will need to achieve will depend on your purpose for sitting the IELTS, so be sure you check with your educational institution of choice or your local immigration lawyer for your specific requirements.

The answer to this question depends upon your level of English.  If you are a native English speaker, you could possibly be well-prepared for the test within 1-2 weeks.  If you are at an advanced level of English, 1 month may be sufficient.  We recommend an intermediate-level student should set aside 2 months for steady preparation. 

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