IELTS in its full form stands for the International English Language Testing System – an English Language proficiency test developed and run by the British Council in partnership with IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English.

The IELTS system is highly regarded and widely recognised as the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration. Whether you are looking to study, develop your career, or settle in an English-speaking country, IELTS can pave the way. 

What sets IELTS apart?

The IELTS system has been setting the standard for English-language testing for more than 30 years. It is trusted by more than 12,000 organisations in over 140 countries around the world.

This means that when you take an IELTS test, you can be confident that the result will be recognised by the educational institution, employer, professional body, or government that needs to verify your English language proficiency. Governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom all trust IELTS when processing immigration applications.

Find out more about the organisations that recognise IELTS

How does IELTS work?

IELTS was developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts to test the full range of skills needed to study or work successfully in an English speaking country.

IELTS assesses the four key skills outlined below.

Find out more about the four sections of the IELTS test here.

Listening This section assesses how well you understand ideas, recognise opinions and follow the development of an argument.
Reading This section assesses how well you read for general sense, main ideas and details, and whether you understand the author's inferences and opinions.
Writing This section evaluates how well and how accurately you organise your ideas and write a response, along with your ability to use wide-ranging vocabulary and grammar.
Speaking This section assesses how well you can communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences, as well as how you express and justify your opinions.
The four components of an IELTS test (listening, reading, writing and speaking)

Which IELTS test is right for me?

There are two main IELTS tests available - IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training:

  • IELTS Academic – is designed to measure your English language proficiency and to assess if it is suitable for an academic environment. The test reflects aspects of academic language and evaluates whether you’re ready to begin training or studying in English.
  • IELTS General Training – is designed to measure your English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The test reflects both workplace and social situations.

The right test for you depends on whether your goal is to study or work in your chosen country. 

Find out which is the right test for you. 

What about visa applications?

If you are taking the IELTS test to support a UK visa application to study, work, or live in the UK, you may need to take a specific version of the test, called IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You can take a UKVI in Academic or General Training. 

Alternatively, you may need to take the IELTS for Life Skills test.

Find out about IELTS for UK visas and immigration.

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.

We engage in regular research and work with organisations on an ongoing basis to ensure they have every confidence in IELTS – and that all IELTS takers are setting themselves up for success by choosing us.

Who develops and runs IELTS?

IELTS is owned and run by the British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English.

IELTS was one of the pioneers in developing four-skills English language testing, with the IELTS exam testing each of the vital areas of Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Today, IELTS continues to set the standard for English language testing internationally.

Download our test taker brochure and our information for candidates PDFs for more information on the IELTS test:

See also