about IELTS

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What is IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an internationally recognised test of English proficiency which is accepted by more than 9,000 organisations worldwide.

Over 2 million tests were taken in the last year making IELTS the most widely used English language test for study, work and migration in the world.

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP Australia and Cambridge ELA and is offered in more than 1,100 test centres in over 140 countries across the globe.

IELTS assesses the use of English as an international language and the tests are written by a team of writers from different English-speaking countries to ensure fairness and validity.

What is the difference between Academic and General IELTS?

Academic IELTS – is required for university entrance either in an English-speaking country or where the degree or post-graduate course is taught in English. Many professional boards in medicine, teaching and engineering also require non-native English speakers to take the Academic test.

General Training IELTS – is mainly required for immigration purposes / visa applications or for those who want to do work experience or training programmes or complete their secondary education in an English-speaking country.

You may need to contact the organisation or institution to which you are applying to find out which test you need to take because you will need to indicate this when completing the IELTS application form.

You should also find out which band score you need to achieve because there will be variations between different countries and different universities.

Is IELTS for UKVI a different test?

No. IELTS for UKVI is the same test as Academic IELTS or General Training IELTS, both of which are applicable if you are applying for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas to the UK. The only differences are administrative. For example, the Test Report Forms will be slightly different, to show that you have taken the test at an IELTS UK visa session. But in terms of exam format, procedure, content, level and scoring, there is no difference.

What does the IELTS test consist of?

The IELTS test is divided into 4 components:

Listening – 40 minutes
Reading – 60 minutes
Writing – 60 minutes
Speaking – 11-14 minutes (face-to-face interview)

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Note: the Reading and Writing tests are different for Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS, but all candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests.

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are all taken on the same day but the Speaking test may be taken up to 7 days before or after the other tests.

What is IELTS Life Skills?

IELTS Life skills is for people who are applying for a ‘family of a settled person’ UK visa (A1 level), extension of a ‘family of a settled person’ UK visa (A2 level) or for indefinite leave to remain or UK citizenship (B1 level). 

It is a relatively new test, approved by UKVI as a Secure English Language Test (SELT).

It’s for people who need to show they have speaking and listening skills at Level A1, A2 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (see chart below)

How does IELTS compare with other English exams?

The following chart shows you how IELTS band scores compare with TOEFL scores and CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) levels of English.

Chart showing how IELTS band scores compare with TOEFL scores and CEFR levels of English.


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Ramprakash - India

I am so excited on seeing my IELTS result, it was awesome to get 7 in Speaking. The fact is I registered with iPassIELTS for only 3 speaking sessions with Nigel, but those online interviews really boosted my confidence and since the online mock test was an exact replica of the real IELTS exam, I felt so comfortable during the speaking test. Even the topic was the same as I had during the mock test.

Nigel was truly wonderful during all my practice tests, he was so patient and he subsequently provided me with good tips and he corrected me whenever I made mistakes in grammar, pronunciation and linking of sentences. I am really happy and satisfied with his tuition and help. I am eager to score more in all modules so I hope to take a complete IELTS package in the future with iPass.

Ramprakash - India

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