IELTS (The International English Language Testing System) is a test format jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. It assesses the English language proficiency of candidates who aspire to study or work in countries where English is the primary language of communication. The IELTS test is conducted in over 900 locations in the world and in about 50 cities in India and all major cities in Middle East (there are test centres for IELTS in Kuwait as well)

The test is offered in two formats- 'Academic' and 'General Training'. The Academic format is suitable for candidates seeking admissions in universities or institutions of higher education. The IELTS test score is one of the criteria used by Universities/Institutions in offering admissions to international students in undergraduate and post graduate courses. The General Training format tests basic survival and communications skills and measures English proficiency in a practical everyday context. It is often a mandatory visa requirement for those seeking to emigrate to English speaking countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the UK. It is typically given by those planning to pursue secondary education, training or employment in English speaking countries.

What is the difference between the two test formats?

All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking modules but different Reading and Writing modules differ.

Test Format

The IELTS test comprises of four sections- Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. The Listening and Speaking tests are the same for all candidates while the Reading and Writing tests differ for Academic and GT versions of the IELTS. The test is scored out of 9 with 9 being the highest attainable score and 0 being the lowest.

How is the IELTS scored?

The IELTS test is scored from 0-9. Requirement for score is different depending on the university or country requirements. Each band corresponds to a level of English competence. All parts of the test and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole and half bands, eg 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0.

  • Band 9: Expert user: has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
  • Band 8: Very good user: has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
  • Band 7: Good user: has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
  • Band 6: Competent user: has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
  • Band 5: Modest user: has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
  • Band 4: Limited user: basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
  • Band 3: Extremely limited user: conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
  • Band 2: Intermittent user: no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
  • Band 1: Non-user: essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
  • Band 0: Did not attempt the test: No assessable information provided

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