What is the IELTS Exam?

what-is-IELTS-exam

Why choose IELTS?

We all know IELTS is the most popular exam and is the first choice of applicants, but what makes this exam so much favoured among other English language proficiency tests.

Here are the top reasons why to choose IELTS as your English language proficiency test:

  • IELTS is a highly recognised and accepted exam. It is accepted in over 140 countries, including governments, academic institutions, and employers.
  • Data show that IELTS is the world's favourite English language proficiency test. Since 1989 more than 30 million IELTS tests have been taken.
  • Whether it is for study, work, or immigration, there are different types of IELTS exams designed for your specific goal.
  • IELTS offers the option to choose between paper-based or computer-based exams.
  • The resulting process of the IELTS exam is also quick. The results for paper-based IELTS get declared in just 13 days, while computer-based IELTS results get declared in just 3-5 days.
  • You can appear for IELTS from anywhere, irrespective of your location. There are over 1600 IELTS test locations in 140+ countries.

IELTS Highlights

IELTS Full Form

International English Language Testing System

Types of IELTS 

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

IELTS duration

60 minutes (including transfer time)

IELTS conducting body

British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English

IELTS score validity

2-years

Mode of Exam

Computer and Paper – delivered test

What is the IELTS Academic exam?

  • The IELTS Academic exam is for applicants planning to study higher education or join a professional organisation in an English-speaking country.
  • IELTS Academic test assesses your proficiency in the English language to determine if you are ready to study or work in a professional environment.
  • There are four sections in the IELTS exam: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. 

What is the IELTS General exam?

  • IELTS General assesses your English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context.
  • The IELTS General exam is suitable if you are applying to study below degree level, work or get training in an English-speaking country, emigrate to an English-speaking country or get a better job in your own country.
  • The test measures the day-to-day English language skills that you will need in social and workplace environments.

What is IELTS Exam Eligibility?

  • There are no eligibility criteria for the IELTS exam.
  • Anyone who wishes to pursue higher studies or wants to work abroad can attempt the IELTS exam (both Academic and General Training).
  • Anyone can appear for the IELTS exam irrespective of background, educational qualifications, or nationality.
  • There are no restrictions on the number of times you can take the exam.

What is the age limit for the IELTS exam?

There is no age limit as such for the IELTS exam.

  • However, the exam council recommends this test for individuals above the age of 16 years. There is no upper age limit for the exam.

IELTS test format

  • There are two types of IELTS tests - Academic and General Training IELTS.
  • There are 4-sections in both of these tests - listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
  • The listening and Speaking sections are the same for all the test takers, while reading and writing are different for IELTS Academic and General Training.
  • So, you have to prepare accordingly.
  • The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections take place on the same day, without any break.
  • Speaking section, you can complete on the same day or up to a week before or after the other test.
  • The duration of the total test is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

IELTS test format - Listening

  • In this section, candidates need to listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write their answers accordingly to the questions asked.
  • The recordings involve monologues and conversations between a set of people.

Type of questions

The questions in the IELTS listening section include matching, multiple-choice questions, sentence completion, and short answer questions.

IELTS test format – Reading

The Reading section consists of 40 questions that aim to test a wide range of reading skills of the candidate. It includes logical argument, reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, and understanding logical argument.

IELTS Academic test format- Reading

  • Three long texts are included in the IELTS academic reading component, ranging from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical.
  • The context of these texts is taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers and is appropriate for students entering the university.

IELTS General Training format - Reading

The reading element of the IELTS General Training consists of three sections.

Section 1 consists of two or three brief texts or a collection of shorter paragraphs.

Section 2 comprises two texts.

Section 3 consists of one long text.

The texts for this section are from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines.

The tasks type of IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic are the same. 

IELTS test format – Writing

The writing section of the IELTS exam is designed to assess a wide range of writing skills, such as writing quick responses, organising ideas, vocabulary and grammar.

IELTS Academic test - Writing

  • It includes two sections designed for students seeking professional registration or admission at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.
  • In the first task, a graph, table, chart, or diagram will be presented to you, the basis on which you need to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words.
  • In the second task, you will have to write an essay responding to a point-of-view, argument, or problem.
  • The writing style must be strictly formal in both tasks.

IELTS General Training - Writing

  • The writing section of IELTS general training also includes two tasks.
  • In the first task, you will have a situation basis on which you need to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The format of the letter can be personal, semi-formal, or formal, depending on the subject.
  • In the second task, you will have to write an essay responding to a point-of-view, argument, or problem. The essay style can be informal as well.

IELTS test format - Speaking

  • The speaking section assesses your English-speaking ability.
  • In the first part, the examiner will ask general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies, and interests.
  • In the second part, you will have to talk about a topic. You will have one minute to prepare. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same.
  • In this last part, you will again be asked questions from part 2. Here, you will have the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.

What is the order of the IELTS exam?

  • The first three parts of the IELTS exam (Listening, Reading, and Writing) takes place on the same day without any break in between the test.
  • For the speaking section, you get the option to take it on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other test.

IELTS Exam Dates 2022

  • IELTS test occurs around 4-times a month, which means 48 times a year.
  • The test dates for the IELTS Academic and General Training modules may differ. The Academic version is available on all 48 dates, while the General Training version is available on only 24 dates.
  • For better convenience and flexibility, tests occur on Saturdays and Thursdays.
  • For 2022, here are the test dates for IELTS Academic as well as General Training:

Month

IELTS Academic exam dates

IELTS General Training exam dates

January

  • Saturday, 8 January 2022
  • Saturday, 15 January 2022
  • Thursday, 20 January 2022
  • Saturday, 29 January 2022
  • Saturday, 8 January 2022
  • Saturday, 29 January 2022

February

  • Saturday, 5 February 2022, Academic and General Training (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Saturday, 12 February 2022
  • Thursday, 17 February 2022
  • Saturday, 26 February 2022
  • Saturday, 5 February 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Saturday, 12 February 2022
  • Thursday, 17 February 2022

March

  • Thursday, 3 March 2022
  • Saturday, 12 March 2022
  • Saturday, 19 March 2022
  • Saturday, 26 March 2022
  • Saturday, 12 March 2022
  • Saturday, 26 March 2022

April

  • Saturday, 9 April 2022
  • Thursday, 21 April 2022
  • Saturday, 23 April 2022
  • Saturday, 30 April 2022
  • Saturday, 9 April 2022
  • Saturday, 23 April 2022

May

  • Saturday, 7 May 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Thursday, 12 May 2022
  • Saturday, 21 May 2022
  • Saturday, 28 May 2022
  • Saturday, 7 May 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Thursday, 12 May 2022
  • Saturday, 28 May 2022

June

  • Saturday, 4 June 2022
  • Saturday, 11 June 2022
  • Thursday, 16 June 2022
  • Saturday, 25 June 2022
  • Saturday, 11 June 2022
  • Saturday, 25 June 2022

July

  • Thursday, 7 July 2022
  • Saturday, 9 July 2022
  • Saturday 16 July 2022
  • Saturday, 23 July 2022
  • Saturday, 9 July 2022
  • Saturday, 23 July 2022

August

  • Saturday, 6 August 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)

  • Thursday, 11 August 2022

  • Saturday, 20 August 2022

  • Saturday, 27 August 2022
  • Saturday, 6 August 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Thursday, 11 August 2022
  • Saturday, 20 August 2022

September

  • Saturday, 3 September 2022
  • Saturday, 10 September 2022
  • Thursday, 15 September 2022
  • Saturday, 24 September 2022
  • Saturday, 3 September 2022
  • Saturday, 24 September 2022

October

  • Saturday, 8 October 2022
  • Thursday, 13 October 2022
  • Saturday, 22 October 2022
  • Saturday, 29 October 2022
  • Saturday, 8 October 2022
  • Saturday, 29 October 2022

November

  • Saturday, 5 November 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Thursday, 10 November 2022
  • Saturday, 19 November 2022
  • Saturday, 26 November 2022, Academic only
  • Saturday, 5 November 2022 (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Thursday, 10 November 2022
  • Saturday, 19 November 2022

December

  • Saturday, 3 December 2022
  • Thursday, 8 December 2022
  • Saturday, 10 December 2022
  • Saturday, 17 December 2022,
  • Saturday, 3 December 2022
  • Saturday, 17 December 2022

What is the fee for the IELTS exam in India?

In India, the fee for the IELTS test differs as per the test type.
Here is the test fee for different IELTS test types

Test Type

Cost (INR)

Computer-delivered IELTS for UKVI

15,750

Computer-delivered IELTS

15,500

IELTS Life Skills (A1 and B1)

14600

IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration

15,750

Pen and paper-based IELTS

15,500

IELTS Exam Preparation Tips

IELTS preparation can be overwhelming, and to help you out, here are some tips you can follow to prepare well and ace the exam.

  • Start with practice tests:

Start your IELTS preparation by taking a practice test. It will help you identify your weakness and establish your strengths. It will also help you identify your progress. There are many free test materials on multiple sites, and you can take help from there.

  • Don't try to memorise:

The examiner can quickly identify if you are trying to memorise. So do not try to do that. The best way to perform well in the exam is to be natural and confident.

  • Improve your writing speed

Practice writing as much as you can. It will improve your speed and help you analyse your mistakes once you have completed the test.

Because you only have a limited amount of time to complete the IELTS exam, speed and efficiency are equally vital.

  • Immerse yourself in English

Apart from the test preparation, add English as a language to your overall routine.

Read English newspapers, magazines, blogs, or whatever interests you.

Write every day. Make a habit of keeping a diary, journaling, maintaining a community, or writing blogs.

Listen to native English speakers. You can watch English movies or series.

An under-rated but highly effective tip - start thinking in English. If you can process your thoughts in English, then speaking English will never be difficult.

IELTS Exam Syllabus

The syllabus of IELTS is vast. The exam includes four sections with fixed structure, pattern, time duration, and several questions.

Here is the IELTS complete syllabus in detail:

  • Writing Section

The writing segment of the IELTS exam consists of two sections, which include short essays or reports. Both these tasks are based on general interests.

Total no. of questions: 2

Time allocated: 60 minutes

The sole distinction between the IELTS Academic and General Training writing portions is the range of topics covered.

In IELTS Academic, topics are suitable for candidates planning undergraduate and postgraduate studies abroad or seeking professional registration. At the same time, topics of IELTS General Training are of general interest.

  • Listening Section

IELTS syllabus for the Listening module includes four sections. Each of these sections has a conversation between a group of people. Candidates need to listen to it and then answer the questions asked by test takers.

The listening section is the same for IELTS Academic and General Training.

  • Reading Section

IELTS syllabus for the reading part includes 3-sections and 40 items.

You have read the text passages and answered the questions accordingly. The questions will be multiple-choice, sentence completion, summary writing, matching information, and short answers.

The difference between the reading section of the IELTS Academic and General Training is that the long texts of the academic module are taken from books, journals, or magazines and are appropriate for candidates entering university courses or seeking professional registration. While for the general training, the basis of the material is the scenarios you encounter daily in an English-speaking environment.

  • IELTS Speaking

The speaking test consists of three sections. It assesses the candidates' use of spoken English and takes between 11 to 14 minutes to complete.

The examiner records the speaking test for further evaluation.

IELTS Score Scale

  • There are four sections in the IELTS exam - reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each of these sections has equal weightage. So, all are equally important.
  • The Test Report Form of IELTS provides your overall band score. This band score is the average of all four sections.
  • The band scores range from 0 to 9, where each number represents a distinct proficiency in the English language.
  • The exam result represents band scores for each section and an overall band score.

Here is an example below for the individual and overall band scores:

S.No.

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Average score of all four sections

Band Score

Candidate 1

6.5

7

4.5

8

6.5

6.5

Candidate 2

9

7

6

8

7.5

7.5

For overall IELTS band scores and their distinct proficiency, refer to the table below:

Band Level 

Skill Level

Detailed description of the level of proficiency in the English language 

9

Expert

Appropriate and accurate command over the language

8

Very good

Fully operational command over the English language with a few occasional mistakes

7

Good

Operational command over the language with mistakes in certain parts

6

Competent

Practical knowledge of the language. Fair understanding of complex language

5

Modest

Partial language command and coping capacity in most situations

4

Limited

Recurrent misconceptions in understanding. Inability to use complex language

3

Extremely limited

Understanding of only general meanings. Faces recurrent breakdown during communication

2

Intermittent

Real communication is impossible. Faces difficulty in writing, speaking and understating the language

1

Non-user 

No capacity to use English

IELTS Score validity period

  • After appearing for the IELTS exam, the candidate receives the result within 5 to 7 days. For offline exams, it may take up to 13 days sometimes.
  • IELTS scores are valid for two years after receiving the result.
  • The IELTS score validity is to ensure the originality of the knowledge. Individuals tend to forget things, and the results might not reflect the actual representation of their skills and knowledge.

FAQs About What is the IELTS Exam?

Who should take IELTS exam?

The IELTS framework's goal is to provide a fair and reliable evaluation for English learners all across the world. As a result, anybody above the age of 16 can enrol for the IELTS exam. Candidates must take the IELTS test in person, while several nations ceased testing during the COVID-19 epidemic.

How much is the IELTS exam fee?

The IELTS exam fee has been changed and is currently fixed at INR 14700 as of April 1, 2020.


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