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
Accepted by: Over 7,000 institutions in more than 130 countries
Duration: approx 3 hours
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.