two young people walking and chatting

Download your copy of the Guide to the IELTS General Training Test

In today's multinational job market, mastering English is key to advancing your career and connecting with larger, more global companies. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English proficiency test that helps professionals prove their English ability to employers and visa authorities.  

IELTS offers two main tests: the IELTS Academic test and the IELTS General Training test. If you’re a working professional, then you likely need to take the IELTS General Training test. This test is the international benchmark for measuring English in professional and social situations. Millions of workers have already taken the IELTS General Training test to move abroad, unlock promotions, and secure jobs in multinational corporations. 

Understanding how the IELTS General Training test works is an important first step in your journey to unlocking these same opportunities. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide, which provides an overview of the test. Let’s start by exploring how IELTS compares with other testing solutions.  

For a summarised PDF of this article, presented in an easy-to-read format, get your copy of the Guide to the IELTS General Training Test.    

The IELTS General Test vs. Alternatives 

Over 4 million people take an IELTS test every year, making it the most popular and trusted English proficiency test in the world. Though IELTS is a leading name in testing, there are several alternatives. These include: 

  • TOEFL - The biggest alternative to IELTS. TOEFL is run by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This test focuses on American English and offers computer-based testing, with paper-based testing available in some locations. 
  • TOEIC - Also administered by ETS, TOEIC assesses English language proficiency in a business context.  
  • Cambridge Exams - Cambridge offers many certificates but only two are relevant for business professionals: the C1 Advanced and the C2 Proficiency. C1 Advanced demonstrates excellence in English. C2 Proficiency is the highest-level Cambridge test that proves additional competency. 
  • Duolingo English Test (DET) - The DET is an online test that doesn’t require advanced booking to take. Generally, DET testing is less widely relied upon than established testing options like IELTS.  

What sets IELTS apart 

If you're looking to prove your English skills, you're probably interested in more than just a test score. You want to be ready for real-world business situations. For English language learners aiming to excel in a global career, the IELTS General Training test offers a distinctive advantage. 

Studying for the test provides comprehensive training in essential English skills, including listening, reading, writing, and speaking — all based on real-world scenarios. The Listening section includes a range of accents, making it the perfect choice for those intending to work in multicultural environments. 

IELTS also offers significant flexibility. Depending on their location, learners can choose between taking the test on paper or on computer. Many other English assessments are primarily computer-based, which may not suit everyone's preferences. 

Which English proficiency test is right for you? 

The answer will depend on the country you want to move to and the requirements of your prospective employer. 

The availability of test preparation resources also makes a huge difference in your confidence and readiness. The British Council, for instance, offers a broad range of IELTS preparation materials that can give you the best chance of achieving your goals. Weigh these factors carefully to decide which test, and which test provider, is the best fit for you. 

How the IELTS General Training test can advance your career 

English is the international language of business, and it opens doors for you to connect with professionals globally. English is also a strategic asset that will help you stand out to globally minded companies in an increasingly competitive landscape.  

Whether you’re seeking a promotion or simply want to boost your confidence and communication skills, the IELTS General Training test is a trusted path to advance your career. Employers worldwide have relied on IELTS for over 30 years to accurately assess a candidate's English language ability. In fact, IELTS is recognised by over 12,000 organisations — including many multinational corporations and businesses.  

Immigration authorities also rely on IELTS to assess visa applicants. If you want to work in an English-speaking country like Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK, succeeding on the IELTS General Training test is often a requirement for work visa applications.  

For visa departments and global companies, IELTS success is a recognised credential that showcases your readiness for diverse workplaces and a proven commitment to your professional journey. 

What can you expect when taking the IELTS General Training test? 

IELTS is a truly global test, with over 1,600 test centres in more than 140 countries. If you’re looking to book your test, the simplest path is to register with an organisation that administers  IELTS, such as The British Council

The IELTS General Training test has a duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes and comprises four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. When booking with the British Council, you can take the test at a local testing centre. The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are typically taken on the same day. The Speaking section may be scheduled up to a week before or after the other sections.

Learn more about the IELTS General Training test format 

Preparing for the IELTS General Training test 

The IELTS General Training test can be challenging. But you can improve your results by studying the test format, improving your English ability, and developing the confidence needed to perform under exam conditions.

To help, we’ve developed test preparation resources that drive IELTS success.

Learn more about the IELTS preparation materials from the British Council 

Understanding your IELTS score 

After taking the test, you will be given an IELTS score that identifies your level of English proficiency. Scores range from 1.0 to 9.0, with high IELTS scores indicating a greater understanding of English. Employers may have different score requirements when assessing job candidates. Generally, the minimum score for employment falls between 6.0 and 7.0. Achieving higher than the minimum will help you stand out from the competition.  

After completing the test, you will be given an official Test Report Form (TRF). This document verifies your test scores. You may need to submit copies to potential employers or visa authorities if you plan to live and work in an English-speaking country.  

Learn more about IELTS scores 

Why you should choose the British Council for your IELTS General Training test

Choosing where and how to take your IELTS General Training test isn't a small decision. It can really impact your score. Over the years, the British Council has been the preferred IELTS partner for millions of professionals looking to achieve their career goals. 

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. 

IELTS success stories 

Hear from professionals like you who have worked with the British Council to succeed on their IELTS General Training test. 

“I'm glad that I chose to take IELTS with the British Council because the staff were friendly and helpful. My Speaking Examiner too was supportive. If I need to take IELTS again, I'll surely choose the British Council!” - Aziza, Uzbekistan 

“I took IELTS on computer, which was a really awesome experience! In the Reading test, I felt really relaxed since I could view the passage and questions side by side. If you ask me, typing on the keyboard is much better, as you can delete text easily, making your written work look immaculate.” - Chiranjivi, Nepal 

“I'm totally satisfied with my experience of taking IELTS with the British Council. The test was conducted in a convenient and professional manner. I'd definitely recommend it to those planning to relocate to an English-speaking country.” - Felipe, Philippines 

Take the next big step in your career  

Mastering English is your passport to the global job market, where you can secure a promotion or find placement in a large multinational company. But to unlock these opportunities, you first need to achieve your target score on your IELTS General Training test. 

The British Council provides all the tools and support you need to excel at the test. Don't put off your career aspirations. Book your IELTS General Training test with the British Council and take an important step toward achieving your professional goals. 

Track your journey with our Guide to the IELTS General Training Test 

From booking to preparing for your test, there’s a lot to know when it comes to the IELTS General Training test. To help you achieve your goals, we’ve developed a guide with all the key information you need, including all the details shared here — presented in an easy-to-digest format. Click the button below for your free copy.  

Download your copy of the Guide to the IELTS General Training Test

See also