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What is IELTS?

Find out what you need to know about the IELTS test.

Test types

  • list?.image?.titleIELTS Academic: for higher education or professional registration
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS General Training: for migration, work, or secondary studies

Ways to take the test

  • list?.image?.titleIELTS on paper: answer on paper using a pencil or pen
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS on computer: type your answers on a keyboard

Test sections

  • list?.image?.titleListening
  • list?.image?.titleReading
  • list?.image?.titleWriting
  • list?.image?.titleSpeaking

Results

  • list?.image?.titleIELTS on paper test: 13 calendar days after the test
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS on computer test: 1-5 days after the test
  • list?.image?.titleYou will receive a Test Report Form (TRF) as official results of your IELTS test
  • list?.image?.titleYour TRF can either be in paper form or electronic/online results (eTRF)

Scoring

  • list?.image?.titleThe IELTS test is scored on a 9-band scale ranging from 0 to 9
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS gives band scores as whole or half band scores
  • list?.image?.titleYou will get a band score for each test section and an overall band score for the entire test
  • list?.image?.titleThe overall band score is the average of the four section band scores rounded to the nearest half band

Acceptance

  • list?.image?.titleIELTS results are accepted for study, work, and migration
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS is accepted by more than 12,000 organisations in over 140 countries worldwide
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS is the only major English test to offer One Skill Retake, which is accepted by more than 1,200 organisations worldwide

About the IELTS test

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test that measures English language proficiency of people who want to study, work, or migrate in a country where English is used as the main language of communication.

IELTS is accepted globally by more than 12,000 organisations including universities, professional bodies, employers and governments for student visa and migration applications.

IELTS is recognised as being fair to all test takers, whatever their nationality, cultural background, gender, or special needs may be.

Learn more about the IELTS test

IELTS test types

There are two tests to choose from, depending on your needs:

IELTS Academic

IELTS General Training

For higher education or professional registration.

Assesses your English-language proficiency at an academic level.

For migration, work, or secondary studies.

Developed to test your every-day, non-academic English.

Listening

You will listen to four recorded monologues and conversations.

Listening

You will listen to four recorded monologues and conversations.

Reading

Three long reading passage with tasks.

All the topics are of general interest to students at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

The texts may be written in different styles and may contain diagrams, graphs, or illustrations.

The texts will come from a variety of sources (e.g. books, journals, newspapers).

There are 40 questions. A variety of different question types are used.

Reading

Five or six texts of varying length with tasks.

Section 1: contains two or three short texts or several shorter texts on everyday topics.

Section 2: contains two short, work-related, factual texts.

Section 3: contains one longer text on a topic of general interest.

The texts will come from a variety of sources (e.g. advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, newspapers).

There are 40 questions. A variety of different question types are used.

Writing

Task 1: at least 150 words to summarise, describe, or explain a graph, table, chart, or diagram.

Task 2: short essay of at least 250 words.

Writing

Task 1: letter-writing task of at least 150 words.

Task 2: short essay of at least 250 words.

Speaking

Face-to-face with a human examiner, in a private speaking room.

The test is recorded and conducted in three parts.

Includes short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic, and a structured discussion.

Speaking

Face-to-face with a human examiner, in a private speaking room.

The test is recorded and conducted in three parts.

Includes short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic, and a structured discussion.

Which IELTS test?

Ways to take IELTS

There are different ways to take the test. Both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests are available in the following delivery formats:

IELTS on paper

IELTS on computer

Test takers sit at a desk with papers and answer sheets for the Reading, Listening, and Writing tests.

Test takers will write their answer with a pencil or pen.

Test takers sit the Reading, Listening, and Writing test in front of a computer in the testing room.

Test takers type their answers with a keyboard and use a mouse.

The Speaking test is is face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

The Speaking test is is face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

Results will be available 13 calendar days after taking your test.

Results will be available 1-5 days after taking your test.

IELTS One Skill Retake is available in eligible test centres for the IELTS on computer test.

IELTS test sections

Whether you take the Academic or General Training test, or take the test on paper or computer, you will be assessed on the same four skills.

There are four sections of the test:

IELTS test sections

A quick guide to understanding the four test sections

Listening

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleConsists of 40 questions based on four audio recordings
  • list?.image?.titleYou will listen to four recorded texts – two monologues and two conversations
  • list?.image?.titleThe recordings are played only once, and will not be repeated

Reading

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately 60 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleConsists of three reading passages or texts
  • list?.image?.titleA variety of question types is used to test a wide range of reading skills
  • list?.image?.titleReading test passages and questions in the Academic and General Training tests are different

Writing

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately 60 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleConsists of two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS Writing Task 1 differs depending on whether you are taking the IELTS Academic or General Training test
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS Writing Task 2 is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

Speaking

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately between 11 and 14 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleTaken face-to-face with a human examiner, in a private speaking room
  • list?.image?.titleThe test is recorded and conducted in three parts
  • list?.image?.titleStructured more like a conversation between the examiner and the test taker

Results

Your official IELTS score is stated on your Test Report Form or TRF.

  • The TRF serves as your official confirmation of your IELTS test results and shows your overall band score, as well as sub band scores for each section of the test: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

  • The TRF can either be a paper certificate or a digital version (eTRF).

When will I get my IELTS results?

You will get your IELTS test results based on which type of test you take.

Test delivery method

Results available in

IELTS on paper

13 days calendar days after your test

IELTS on computer

1-5 days after your test

Learn more about IELTS results

How IELTS is scored

With IELTS, your scores are reported on a 9-band scale.

  • All IELTS band scores are between 0 and 9.

  • IELTS gives band scores as whole or half band scores.

  • You will receive an overall band score, as well as individual scores for each section of the test.

The IELTS band score chart below explains your IELTS mark in more detail. It helps you understand the band score you see on your official IELTS Test Report Form (TRF).

Your organisation determines the scores you need to achieve. Check with your organisation, university, employer, or government body, to see what scores you need.

Band score calculation

Band scores

Overall band scores

What is IELTS One Skill Retake?

IELTS One Skill Retake allows you to retake one of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing, or Speaking) if you need to improve in just one area.

We know most test takers get the scores they need first time, but if you feel you haven’t performed to your best in one area, IELTS One Skill Retake can help you get back on track.

You can take IELTS One Skill Retake if:

  • You have completed a full test at a centre that offers One Skill Retake.

  • Your full test was an eligible IELTS on computer test.

  • You sit your One Skill Retake within 60 days of your full IELTS test.

Your IELTS One Skill Retake result is accepted around the world by governments, universities, employers, and professional organisations. Check your organisation to see if they accept IELTS One Skill Retake.

Learn more about IELTS One Skill Retake