10 Jul 2014

International English Language Testing System-IELTS

International English Language Testing System (IELTS), is an international standardized test to assess English language ability and proficiency of those who need to study, work or transact in an English speaking environment.  It is jointly managed by Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL), Examinations of University of Cambridge. The British Council and International Development Program (IDP) Education and was established in 1989. The test helps to explore academic and professional opportunities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, USA, South Africa and many other places around the world where English is a language in the workplace or the classroom.

There are two versions of IELTS-One the Academic version and the other, the General Training version.

The Academic version is both for students who wish to pursue their higher education abroad and also for medical doctors and nurses who wish to practice in an English speaking country. The IELTS minimum scores considered by academic institutions vary from one institution to the other.  The highest IELTS Band required is 8.5 out of 10 by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

The General training version is for those who are planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience in the above said countries, or for immigration purposes. As of July 2012, applicants for Australia’s Independent Migrant visa (permanent residence) must either score at least 6 on each of the modules of IELTS, or score at least “A” on Australia’s Occupational English Test.

Features of IELTS

IELTS tests assess all the four language skills namely, the ability of an individual to listen, read, write and speak in English.

Different types of pronunciation and writing styles are presented in the test material in order to avoid asymmetry in choice of words

Band scores range from 0-9. These scores are used to assess listening, reading, writing and speaking skills of an individual

It is the only test of English communication which has a face to face special test, which reflects real life situations and interactions.


IELTS is available on 48 fixed dates a year–up to four times a month on Thursdays and Saturdays, depending on local demand. There are two ways by which an individual can register.

  • Registering online
  • Registering in person at test centre office

For online registration, the test fee is payable by Credit Card (Master / VISA). Once an individual registers, he gets his seat confirmed immediately. The steps include:

  • Select the option “Apply on-line”
  • Select your test date
  • Fill the on-line form
  • Pay the test fee by credit card (Master / Visa)

For more details log on to www.IELTSIndia.com from your home, office, cyber cafe, your training institute etc.

While appearing for the test, the candidates should carry two, recent passport size photographs with their name and passport number written on the reverse of the photos and photocopy of the first 3 pages and any observation pages of their passport.

Registering in person is also a convenient way to register, as this system also allows one to get immediate seat confirmation and allows one to pay the test fee by credit card.


Students or candidates under the age of 16 are not eligible to take this test. The eligible include:

Students seeking admission in colleges and universities in UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US

Medical professionals, who are looking to practice or study further in UK, Australia and US

Persons who are planning to emigrate to the above mentioned countries.

Test fee

In India presently, the fee is Rs. 9900 and it is payable during the registration time by debit card, credit card or a Nationalized Bank Draft payable to the British council.

1. Candidates who cancel their IELTS TEST: (at least 5 weeks prior to the test date.)

Who applied for test date before 31 March 2015–Refund–INR 7000/-

Candidates who applied after 1 April 2015–Refund–INR–7450/-.

2. Option to change the date of the IELTS Exam:- (5-weeks before the test)

(a) Candidates who applied before 31 March 2015-pay extra amount –Rs.-2300/- (INR) as administration fee towards transfer.

(b) Applied after 1 April 2015–Pay extra amount–Rs–2450/- (INR) as administration Fee–towards transfer.


The British Council IELTS Scholarship Award was launched for the Indian students who are willing to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at any university in any country outside India that recognizes IELTS. A sum of Rs.3,00,000 each is provided to 8 scholars. They will be chosen by a panel from the higher education or corporate sectors in India and a senior British Council officer.

Eligible candidates can apply for the scholarships electronically via the following website or by post.


A hard copy of the application should be sent to:

British Council IELTS Scholarship, British Council 17, Kasturba Gandhi Mart, New Delhi 110 001

A soft copy of the application should be sent to: ielts.scholarship-at-britishcouncil.org

Cost free coaching

Apart from this, there are many other online tests (free of cost) which the aspirants can take to test their preparedness for IELTS.

Preparation for IELTS test

  • Learning any language consumes time. Preparing for the test under the supervision of tutor will boost the chances of clearing the test.
  • Aspirants need to have clear cut knowledge on the test formats.
  • Practicing sample questions will really be helpful
  • Reading of and Listening to English passages will help in skill of writing and speaking.

Tips for IELTS

  • Read the questions for that section carefully, before the recording starts. This helps following the recording and identifies the answers. Listen carefully for clues as to which stage of the recording you are listening to, e.g. words such as ‘firstly’, ‘my next point’, ‘to sum up’. These words will help in identifying which question you have reached.
  • Practice reading a variety of English texts to clear reading section. This section does not demand your knowledge usage instead your ability to read English text
  • Avoid using words from the question. The examiner will not take the copied words into account.
  • Be clear while writing essays in academic writing. The last paragraph must be a conclusion part of your entire essay.
  • Practice speaking in English. The examiner will carefully assess your ability of expressing your opinions or ideas.
  • Learning by rote can be a serious folly; there may be bits of writing which candidates may memorice, and repeat. But these interspersed with incorrect bits written by the test taker makes it easy for the examiner to assess the true level of accomplishment.

Such a plan can backfire as examiners are trained to look for such memorized scripts. Such memorized chunks of language will be out-of-context and are an easy
give-away to examiners.

  • While preparing for IELTS, wide exposure to English language skills serves better than a narrows approach of just mastering the test.
  • In the ‘speaking’ and ‘writing’ parts of the test, it is important to focus on all parts of the question. Missing any of the parts would mean incomplete answers and hence loss of scores.
  • Skimming and scanning the passage given in the Reading ‘section’ is essential to conserve time by focusing on specific information while getting a clear overall of the passage.
  • Importance to correct spelling is essential.
  • Slang, abbreviations and informal incomplete sentence structures are not acceptable.
  • All questions need to be attempted, Partial and wrong answers do get lower marks but blank answers do not get anything at all.
  • Don’t hurry and panic during the test. Keep calm and composed; endeavor to do the best.

Test formats and Duration

All candidates are provided with the same listening and speaking modules. The listening, reading and writing sections are conducted in one day. But the speaking section can be taken seven days before or after the other three sections (at the discretion of the test centre). The listening, reading and writing tests are scheduled during the morning and the speaking interviews are scheduled during the afternoon if conducted on the same day. The venue for the speaking section may differ from that of the other three modules.

IELTS Academic Training Module

Key components Number of questions Time duration
Listening  4 sections, 40 Items 30 minutes (20 minutes to listen to a tape and to answer questions on what you hear, and 10 minutes to transfer your answers to answer sheet.)
Academic Reading 3 sections, 40 items 60 minutes (your task is to read passages of text and answer questions according to what you have read. there are also other types of assignments)
Academic Writing 2 tasks (150 & 250 words) 60 minutes (20 minutes to write a letter and 40 minutes to write an essay.)
Speaking 11 to 14 minutes (consists of 3 parts: personal interview, little speech and a discussion.)
Total time duration: 2 hrs and 45 minutes


*Note:  All the parts continue one after another, and only before’ Speaking’ section an you get a brief break.

IELTS General training module

Key components Number of questions Time duration
Listening 4 sections, 40 Items 30 minutes (20 minutes to listen to a tape and to answer questions on what you hear, and 10 minutes to transfer your answers to answer sheet.)
General Training Reading 3 sections, 40 items 60 minutes (your task is to read passages of text and answer questions according to what you have read. there are also other types of assignments)
General Training Writing 2 tasks (150 & 250 words) 60 minutes (20 minutes to write a letter and 40 minutes to write an essay.)
Speaking 11 to 14 minutes (consists of 3 parts: personal interview, little speech and a discussion.)
Total time duration: 2 hrs and 45 minutes


*Note: All the parts continue one after another, and only before ‘Speaking’ section, you get a break.

Some section-wise tips

Listening and Reading Tips

  • Fist read the questions, underline key words and then answers.
  • Read, write and listen-all together
  • During listening, make note of answers on the test paper.
  • If the topic seems difficult or the speaking is too fast, then pause, relax and then tune in.
  • Quite often speaker gives an answer and later corrects is too-be aware of this.

Writing Tips

  • Plan and organize before writing
  • Read question and question stems and mark keywords in them.
  • Don’t digress from the topic
  • Each paragraph in the written passage must carry some main idea.
  • Write the passage with the minimum number of words stipulated being reached.
  • Be careful not to make elementary mistakes of spelling, punctuations and grammar.

Speaking Tips

  • Answers must be full and complete. Partial answers may not be scored at all.
  • Use the preparation time given to plan the talk.
  • Relax and listen carefully to every question and instruction given by the examiner.
  • Before the start of the test, practice speaking for the full 2 minutes given.

IELTS Band Scores

The IELTS scores are valid up to a period of two years. When an individual joins an educational institution abroad, the latest IELTS score are taken into consideration.

The band of scores and its correlation to level competency are:

Band Scores Level of English competency
Band 9 Expert user: has fully operational command of the language
Band 8 Very good user: has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. 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 a frequent problem 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.


IELTS Test Centres

IELTS Australia has more than 200 test locations in over 40 countries. Aspirants can search for the nearest test centre by country and territories, and city using the link:


IELTS aspirants with different abilities

A variety of arrangements are made for IELTS candidates with special requirements including hearing, visual or learning difficulties. These include:

Modified and enlarged print papers

Braille papers

Braille and enlarged print versions of the Speaking component

Lip reading version of the Listening component

Extra time for the Reading and Writing component and/or use of a computer (e.g. for candidates with dyslexia)a scribe to write answers on a candidate’s behalf

  • Special Listening component (e.g. using amplification equipment and/or lip-reading version of the Listening component for those with hearing difficulties)

IELTS is considered as one of the most important and standardized tests among the English Proficiency tests. A structured preparation for this test will help overcome many of the difficulties an individual encounters while listening, speaking or writing in English. After clearing this test, the proficiency of candidates will surely get improved to levels adequate enough to imbue confidence on their language skills during their studies or working overseas.

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