The IELTS test can be taken either as an academic preparation test or a general training test. When applying to universities, you will have to demonstrate that you have taken the academic preparation test.
The IELTS test is different in that it incorporates a variety of different accents so that your test isn't biased towards any particular region.
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
IELTS QUICK FACTS
Cost: The cost varies from country to country. Read our IELTS Around The World Guide.
Accepted by: Over 9,000 institutions in more than 140 countries
Test Numbers: In 2015, 2.7million tests were taken in over 1100 test centres around the world.
Duration: approx 3 hours
Score: Scores are between 1-9 going up in increments of 0.5. Half scores are therefore possible e.g. 6.5. Many universities require a score of 6-7+ for admission of international students. If you are looking to apply to a specific institution, check what the requirements are before applying. It may be a requirement that you have a minimum score in each section as well as a certain overall score.
Alternatives: A common alternative to IELTS is the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Read our article IELTS vs TOEFL - Which Is Better?
The test consists of:
Four sections of increasing difficulty. Four recorded conversations or monologues. Each recording is heard only once. You must answer a series of questions about the recording. The recording will be paused for a short time half way through so that you have time to read the questions.
Three sections of text. 40 questions about the text.
Two tasks. In task one, you will be given a diagram or chart and you have to describe the information. In task two, you will be presented with an argument and you must respond to it.
The first section is a face-to-face conversation with the examiner in which you talk about your hobbies and interests and, generally, you will be asked why you have chosen to take the IELTS test.
In the second section, you will choose a topic card and have to prepare a brief speech about that topic. You will have one minute to prepare.
The third section is another face-to-face conversation, generally consisting of the examiner asking you questions about the topic you have just discussed.
The first three modules (listening, reading and writing) will always be taken in one sitting, but the speaking module may be taken on a different day, within 7 days of the main test date.