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What is IELTS?

Answering "what is ielts" is both easy and difficult. The short answer; International English Language Testing System. The long answer is a bit more complicated than just the words that make up the acronym IELTS.

IELTS is one of many international English language exams. 

Ielts is managed jointly by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, IDP Education Australia and the British Council.


What does IELTS consist of?

There are two IELTS test forms:

  • Academic Test - for those enrolling in English speaking Universities 
  • General Training Test - for non-academic purposes like immigration or work 

Each Module of IELTS features the same Listening and Speaking tests. There are separate Reading and Writing tests for the General Training and Academic modules. Both the Academic and the General Training test feature the following:

  • A variety of accents and writing styles. British English, American English and other popular forms like Australian or South African. The test focuses on what is becoming increasingly known as "International English." 

What does IELTS measure?

Ielts measures all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Band scores are used for each language sub-skill ranging from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert user). For example, a native speaker of English with one year of university experience should score near 9.

Where is IELTS accepted?

More than 6000 governments, universities and professional organizations in more than 130 countries accept IELTS scores as valid language certification. Some countries even require it for immigration purposes.


  • Please Note:

    If you are planning on using your IELTS score as a language qualification for entrance to an English speaking university, be sure to contact the university to find out what band score is needed for their entrance requirements.

Band score requirements may vary from university to university and many schools in the U.S. still don't accept the IELTS test as a language qualification. Again, please check with your university to confirm their admissions language requirement.

To learn more about Ielts scores click on the preceding link.

Where can I take the IELTS test?

There are test centers worldwide. For a list of ielts test centers located near you, please visit the official ielts site at what is ielts?