Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FIND ANSWERS TO COMMON QUESTIONS
Common questions about the IELTS test, the application process and taking a test.
'What is IELTS?'
'IELTS is the International English Language Testing System which tests English proficiency across the globe. Conducting one million tests globally, IELTS is the world’s most popular English testing system. Visit the IELTS website at http://www.ielts.org.'
'Which organisations accept IELTS?'
'IELTS is accepted by more than 6000 organisations worldwide. These include universities, immigration departments, government agencies, professional bodies and multinational companies. '
'Who owns IELTS and who writes the test?'
'IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). International teams of writers contribute to IELTS test materials. Ongoing research ensures that IELTS remains fair and unbiased. Test writers from different English-speaking countries develop IELTS content so it reflects real-life situations.'
'Why are there two versions of the test?'
'IELTS has two versions – Academic and General Training. The Academic test is for those who want to study at a tertiary level in an English-speaking country. The General Training test is for those who want to do work experience or training programs, secondary school or migrate to an English-speaking country. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests.'
'Which version should I do?'
'Read the explanation of the Academic and General Training tests, then contact the organisation or institution to which you are applying to find out what it requires. Note that you must know which version to take when you complete the online application form.'
'What is the test format and how long will it take?'
'IELTS has four parts – Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11–14 minutes). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are done in one sitting. The Speaking test may be on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests.'
'What help is available for disabled candidates?'
'Test centres make every effort to cater for the special needs of disabled candidates. It is our aim for all candidates to be assessed fairly and objectively. If you have a special need, talk to your local test centre when registering. Centres may need three months to organise arrangements.'
'When can I take IELTS?'
'IELTS is available on 48 fixed dates a year – up to four times a month, depending on local demand.'
'How much does it cost?'
'IELTS has a set fee for its test. The Academic and General Training tests are the same cost. When you apply online, you will be told the fee.'
'What if I need to postpone or cancel my application?'
'If you postpone or cancel your application more than 5 weeks before the test date, you will receive a refund minus an administration charge. If you postpone or cancel within 5 weeks of the test date, you will be charged the full fee unless you have a medical reason. If you provide a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost.'
'What if I am absent or sick on the test day?'
'If you are away on the test day with no prior notice, you will lose your full fee. However, if you provide a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost.'
'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 with no break. Depending on the test centre, the Speaking test may be taken up to 7 days either before or after the test date.'
'What can I bring into the examination room?'
'Only pens, pencils and erasers. You must bring the passport/national identity card you used on the IELTS Application Form to the test. You must leave everything else outside the examination room. Mobile phones and pagers must be switched off and placed with personal belongings in the area designated by the supervisor. If you do not switch off your phone/pager or keep it on you, you will be disqualified.'
'Which part do I take first?'
'You do the Listening test first following by the Reading and Writing components of the test. Depending on the test centre, the Speaking test may be taken up to 7 days either before or after the test date.'
'What kinds of accents can be heard in the Listening and Speaking tests?'
'As IELTS is an international test, a variety of English accents are used in both of these tests.'
'Does the Listening tape provide instructions and pauses?'
'Yes. At the beginning, you hear instructions and a sample question. Then you read section 1 questions, listen to section 1 and answer the questions.'
'Is there a similar period of 10 minutes in the Reading test to transfer answer?'
'No. The Reading test is one hour, and you must write all your answers on the answer sheet in this time.'
'Can I use a pen for the Listening and Reading tests?'
'No. You must do it in pencil. The answer sheet is scanned by a computer which cannot read pen.'
'Can I make notes on the Listening and Reading question papers?'
'Yes. The IELTS Examiner will not see your question paper.'
'What is the Speaking test?'
'The Speaking test is a conversation with a certified IELTS Examiner. The Speaking test is made up of three sections. It is recorded on an audiocassette or a digital recorder. '
'What do I need for the Speaking test?'
'You must bring the same identification documents you supplied on your IELTS Application Form and used for the rest of the test. Your ID will be checked before you enter the interview room.'
'How are the tests marked?'
'IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores in a consistent manner. You receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.'
'Who sets the ‘pass’ mark for the IELTS test?'
'There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Scores are graded on the 9-band system. Each educational institution or organisation sets its own level of IELTS scores to meet its individual requirements.'
'When will I receive my test results?'
'Your Test Report Form will be posted to you 13 days after your test date. Some test centres also provide SMS alerts and an Online Results Service. Keep your Test Report Form in a secure place as you only receive one copy.'
'What if I lose my Test Report Form?'
'Test Report Forms are valid for two years. Copies cannot be sent to candidates but IELTS will forward a Test Report Form to your relevant institution or embassy. Up to five copies will be sent free of charge. Additional copies will incur a small administration charge. Talk to your test centre for further details.'
'How soon can I re-sit the test?'
'There is no limit on sitting the test. However, IELTS recommends you do additional study before taking the test again. Some test centres offer preparatory courses and language classes. You can also improve your skills by using the IELTS Official Practice Materials - ask for details.'
'What if I feel my test result is wrong?'
'You can apply for an ‘enquiry on results’ procedure at your test centre within six weeks of the test date. You must pay an enquiry fee, which is fully refunded if your band score changes. Note that IELTS Examiners and markers follow strict assessment guidelines and are regularly monitored. The IELTS testing process has the highest quality control procedures.'
'What if I am delayed by circumstances beyond my control?'
'The test centre may offer you a test on the next available test date.'