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Are you looking to study, work, or move to an English-speaking country? If so, then you may need an IELTS test to prove your English proficiency to universities, employers, and immigration authorities.  

IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test. Leading organisations like the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English all have a hand in developing and running this test. This partnership guarantees that the test is a reliable and credible measure of your English skills. 

IELTS tests are recognised just about everywhere. So, whether you are looking to study, advance your career, or settle in an English-speaking country, IELTS is your passport to achieving your goals. 

Why you should choose IELTS for your English proficiency test 

Did you know that IELTS is trusted by 12,000 organisations in over 140 countries around the world? In fact, IELTS has set the benchmark for excellence in language assessment for over three decades.  

From a test-taker’s perspective, IELTS focuses on all key English skills and real-world communication. The Listening section of IELTS includes a range of accents and the Speaking section examines the English used by people from different parts of the world. This makes IELTS an excellent choice for individuals wanting to understand and speak English in multicultural environments. 

Another benefit for test-takers, IELTS offers flexibility in how and when you are tested. Depending on their location, learners can choose between taking the test on paper or on computer. As tests run throughout the year, slots are available to suit most schedules.  

Find out more about the organisations that recognise IELTS 

How credible is the IELTS certification? 

As has been mentioned, IELTS is the most popular English proficiency test in the world — and for good reason. Many people choose IELTS because it is: 

  • Recognised everywhere - IELTS enjoys widespread recognition from a diverse range of entities. This makes it the certification of choice for nearly anyone needing to prove their English skills.  
  • Trusted by governments worldwide - IELTS is trusted by governments globally, not only for immigration purposes but also for citizenship and visa applications. This broad acceptance highlights IELTS' credibility and its role in opening doors to international opportunities. 
  • Fair and accurate - IELTS has a long-established commitment to fairness and accuracy. Examiners are qualified and experienced English language specialists. They focus on language skills and practical communication ability, not specialised knowledge or trivia. Modified versions of the test are provided to those who require accommodations. These factors ensure fair testing for all, regardless of nationality, cultural background, gender or special needs. 

Understanding the IELTS test 

There are two main IELTS tests: the IELTS Academic test and the IELTS General Training test. The right test for your situation will depend on your goal. Here’s what each test evaluates: 

  • IELTS Academic Test - This test assesses your English proficiency for academic environments like universities and colleges. If you want to pursue a higher education at an English-speaking institution, then you most likely need an IELTS Academic test. These tests are used to secure university acceptance, student visas, and to prove your English ability to professional organisations.  
  • IELTS General Training Test - This assessment measures English proficiency in workplace and social situations. 

They are aimed at people wanting to: train or study below degree level, work in or emigrate to an English-speaking country, or get a job in your own country where English proficiency is required.  

You can choose to take your IELTS test either on paper or on computer at an official test centre. If you book an IELTS Academic test and live in a select group of countries, then you can take your test from your home using IELTS Online

IELTS test format 

Both the IELTS Academic and General Training tests are 2 hours and 45 minutes long and consist of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. 

The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections take place on the same day with no breaks in between. The Speaking section may be scheduled up to 7 days before or after the other components. 

Learn more about the IELTS test format 

How does IELTS help with visa requirements? 

In many English-speaking countries, immigration authorities require proof of English language proficiency as a condition for being granted a visa. IELTS provides this proof. 

After completing an IELTS test, you will receive an official Test Report Form (TRF) that contains your IELTS score. Your TRF is valid for two years and should be submitted to visa authorities to prove your English proficiency.  

Each visa has its own IELTS score requirements. It’s important that you confirm what score you need to secure your visa. Countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand have the following IELTS requirements: 

The United Kingdom 

If you're looking to move to the United Kingdom, the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is a version of the IELTS test that has been approved for visa applications to the UK. The only difference is that IELTS UKVI assessments must be taken at a testing centre that has been approved by the UK government.  

This test is available both in Academic and General Training formats. A unique IELTS Life Skills test is available for those looking to secure a family visa, extension to family, spouse or partner visa, or a visa granting indefinite leave to remain or citizenship. 

Learn more about IELTS for UK visas and immigration

Canada 

IELTS is accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) as proof of English language proficiency. If you want to apply for a study permit, work visa, professional registration or permanent residence in Canada, you will likely be required to present your test result as part of your application. The Express Entry system, for instance, is the main pathway for skilled immigration and requires English or French language proficiency. 

Australia 

In Australia, student, immigration, and general skilled migration visas all require proof of English language proficiency. For employers and the Australian immigration authority, IELTS is a preferred English language test. 

The United States of America 

Many visa categories in the USA require proof of English language ability. For instance, English proficiency is a requirement for a student visa. Unlike countries like the UK or Australia, you do not need proof of English for some work visas — including H-1B and L1 visas. However, IELTS success can improve the chances of your application being successful.  

New Zealand 

Proof of English ability is required for work, skilled migrant, and student visas. IELTS is recognised and respected throughout New Zealand and is often the preferred test of universities and employers.  

What is IELTS equivalent to?  

Comparing different test scores can be difficult, but IELTS is widely recognised as setting the standard for English language testing. To understand the advantages the test offers, let’s compare IELTS with other popular assessments.   

  • IELTS vs. TOEFL: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests your ability to use North American English and is primarily computer-based. IELTS, on the other hand, is widely recognised globally and not confined to UK English, making it a versatile choice for test-takers. IELTS also provides the flexibility of taking the test on paper or on computer, catering to individual preferences. A prevalent myth is that IELTS is more challenging than TOEFL. This is not true, as both exams aim to assess English language proficiency accurately and fairly, without one being inherently harder than the other. 
  • IELTS vs. PTE: PTE (Pearson Test of English) has a strong focus on academic English. While the IELTS Academic test assesses your English skills for academic environments, IELTS also tests for practical and everyday language. That said, both tests are the same level of difficulty. PTE only provides computer-based testing. IELTS lets you choose between doing the test on paper or on computer.  
  • IELTS vs. C1 Advanced: C1 Advanced is a Cambridge exam that, like IELTS, tests all key English skills. Both are globally accepted. However, IELTS has wider recognition, with greater test availability throughout the year.  
  • IELTS vs. DET: DET (Duolingo English Test) is a newly established test that provides online, on-demand testing. While on-demand testing offers flexibility, IELTS testing is more comprehensive and remains the gold standard for institutions and immigration departments.   

While each English proficiency test has its strengths, IELTS stands out due to its high standards, broad global acceptance, and focus on practical skills. 

Who develops and runs IELTS? 

When you're entrusting your future to a test, knowing who's behind it can provide a level of comfort and trust. IELTS is run by some of the most trusted organisations in English Education. They are: 

  • The British Council - The UK's international organisation for educational opportunity. 
  • IDP IELTS - A leading educational organisation with roots in Australia. 
  • Cambridge English - A part of the University of Cambridge that specialises in assessing English language proficiency.  

These partners engage in regular research and work with organisations on an ongoing basis to ensure that all IELTS takers are setting themselves up for success by choosing us. 

Why choose the British Council for your IELTS test? 

Are you looking to take an IELTS test? Why not take it with the British Council? From booking to preparing for your test, the British Council offers a smooth process that helps you achieve the score you need. Here’s why millions of people like you have chosen to take their test with the British Council: 

Unmatched preparation support

We provide more preparation than any other test provider through our IELTS Ready offer. Plus, when you book with us you unlock IELTS Ready Premium, which includes a personalised study plan and over 40 practice tests. Make sure you book early to make the most of these resources. 

Trusted, transparent and flexible

IELTS is jointly run by the British Council and our services are trusted by over 12,000 organisations worldwide. Depending on your location, you can choose between IELTS on paper or IELTS on computer. We also offer the option to take the new IELTS Online academic test that can be taken from the comfort of your home.

Simple booking and convenient dates and locations for your test

From booking your test to receiving your results, we have systems in place to guide you every step of the way. All official British Council IELTS test centres are modern, comfortable, and conveniently located. Test dates are scheduled throughout the year, letting you pick the date that best suits your calendar. 

Stress-free experience with a professional and friendly staff

From the moment you book your test to the day you get your results, we ensure a seamless, supportive, and transparent experience. Our classes are led by highly trained educational specialists. IELTS tests are run by experienced staff who ensure your test day runs smoothly.

One Skill Retake

When you take IELTS on computer with the British Council you also have access to the One Skill Retake option. This means you can retake a specific section of the test, rather than the entire test, saving time and money if you only want to improve your score in a single section. Check here to see if One Skill Retake is available in your country. 

Taking the next step in your IELTS journey 

Whether you want to study overseas or unlock a promotion, proving your English skills is key to achieving your goals. As the most popular English proficiency test, IELTS is here to help.  

If you want to take IELTS, consider booking your test with the British Council. We offer multiple test venues and dates and all the resources and support you need to excel on the test.  

For more information on IELTS, download our IELTS Quickstart Guide. It shares key information to help you to understand and then prepare for the test. It also includes all the insights shared here, presented in an easy-to-read format. Get your free copy by clicking the button below.  

Download your copy of the Quick Guide to IELTS Success

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