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IELTS Frequently Asked Questions

Sunday, February 10, 2013 @ 09:02 AM
posted by Jo

What is the IELTS exam?

IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System.  It is an exam which gives an accurate and reliable measurement of your English language abilities.  

Who is it for?

IELTS is recognised by more than 7,000 educational institutions, governments and employers around the world and is often used for the purposes of gaining admission into a university or to obtain a visa to live in an English-speaking country.  There are two types of IELTS tests – Academic and General.  The type you choose depends on your purpose for taking the exam.  It is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test and it is taken by more than 1.7 million people every year.

How long does the exam take?

IELTS is composed of four sections: Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11–14 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. 

Should I take the Academic Module or the General Training exam?

The IELTS Academic Module exam is intended for those who want to gain admission into a university or college in an English-speaking country or where the medium of communication is English.  The General Module exam is generally used for those who need to obtain a visa for an English-speaking country, undergo practical vocational training, or do a work placement.  However, it is important for you to check which one you need directly with the institution you are doing the test for.

Where do I take the test?

There are more than 800 IELTS Test Centres, in over 135 different countries.  Click here to find a test centre.

How much does it cost to take the exam?

The fees vary from country to country, but it is usually between $160 - $200 USD.

To find out the test fee for your country in your local currency, contact your nearest test centre.

What kinds of accents can be heard in the Listening and Speaking tests?

IELTS is an international test so you will hear a variety of English accents.

How are the tests marked?

IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores.  You receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.  Band one indicates that you have virtually no English at all. Band nine is considered native speaker proficiency.

What if I fail the exam?

IELTS is not a test that you can pass or fail.  You will receive a score from one to nine and each educational institution or organisation sets its own level of IELTS scores to meet its individual requirements so you should check what score you require.  Universities in countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia typically require a band score of between 6 and 7.

What if I don’t get the score I need?

If you don’t get the score you need then you can take the test again.  There are no limits to the number of times you can take the test but you do have to pay the same test fee each time.  It is recommended that you engage in further study or practice before sitting the test again if you want to improve your score.

How long is an IELTS score valid?

Your IELTS result is valid for a period of two years.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Please read the full article: ‘How to prepare for the IELTS exam’ (coming soon)

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