There are plenty of reasons why people test their English proficiency, from improving their job prospects to applying for an English-speaking university course. In some countries, proof of proficiency is required for visa applications.
If you fall into one of these camps, or simply want to test your skills, your biggest decision will be which test to take. Several major companies run accredited English language proficiency tests across the globe, but none are as widely accepted or accessible as IELTS.
Jane Zhang, a PhD student at Monash University, embarked on her IELTS journey after deciding to change her career path and study in Australia. When researching study options, she learned that an English proficiency test score was mandatory for an Australian student visa.
We spoke with Jane about the top reasons why international students like herself choose IELTS.
1. IELTS is recognised by 11,000 organisations around the world
More than 11,000 organisations around the world – including professional bodies, immigration authorities and educational institutions – recognise IELTS scores as measures of proficiency. This means that your IELTS results are likely to be accepted as proof of your English skills, no matter whether you’re applying for a visa or registering for a specialised profession like nursing.
The biggest benefit of IELTS’ universal recognition, Jane says, is that there are many practice options to help test-takers prepare.
“After doing some research about the question types and testing methods, I knew IELTS was the right option for me,” says Jane.
2. IELTS is the most trusted English language test for migration
Moving abroad can be a daunting process – particularly if you’re relocating somewhere with a different primary language to your native tongue. The last thing you need is to spend money on a language proficiency test that isn’t accepted by the government of your chosen country.
Unlike other English tests, IELTS is trusted by immigration authorities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. This makes it a versatile option if you’re still deciding where to move. Simply complete IELTS and submit your results to the relevant immigration body when you’re ready.
3. IELTS is widely available across the globe
One of the biggest benefits of IELTS is how widely available it is. There are 1600 convenient testing centre locations in more than 140 countries and territories around the world. Unless you live in a remote area, you shouldn’t have to travel far to complete your test.
If you want to fine-tune your English skills in preparation, you’re likely to find trusted organisations offering classes close to any testing centre.
“I initially attempted a few mock questions on my own, but I realised that I needed to take a proper course for training,” said Jane. After researching several courses with different providers, she decided on a face-to-face option. This preparation equipped Jane with the skills she needed to achieve the required IELTS band score in one attempt.
4. IELTS is a great way to master the four pillars of language
Where has IELTS taken you?
IELTS incorporates the four key pillars of language into its testing model. They are: Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. Each pillar has its own dedicated exam section and test-takers are marked from 1 to 9. The resulting IELTS band score is an average of the four scores.
This model emphasises the importance of all four pillars and encourages people to become proficient in each of them. For instance, rather than spending all of your time practising spoken English, you should allocate time to listening, writing and reading, too – particularly if you’re weaker in those areas.
The key is not to focus on the area you’re best at, but to invest time in strengthening all of your language skills.
5. IELTS improves career prospects
An IELTS score is required of many job applicants from non-English speaking backgrounds – whether you’re entering a new career or applying to have your credentials recognised in a specialised profession like law. The stronger your IELTS band score and all-round English proficiency, the better your chances of standing out to prospective employers.
If a role doesn’t explicitly require you to have completed IELTS, having a strong score on your resume will still be valuable as it shows your commitment to your English studies.
Jane’s final word of advice
Above all, Jane recommends that people taking IELTS give themselves enough time to prepare.
“I think going through some sample questions helped me to understand the test itself. More importantly, don’t rush into it. Take the time to research reliable and experienced training providers.”