Updated: Jan 15
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an international English language test. IELTS is usually taken for study or work abroad, for immigration, for a career or just for yourself to get an accurate assessment of your language skills.
IELTS is available in two test formats: Academic and General Training. The Academic format is designed for those who are going to study in English in a foreign educational institution, General - for those who go abroad for permanent residence or work.
IELTS is accepted as proof of English language skills at universities in UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, almost all Eastern European countries, and many US educational institutions. Also, IELTS certificate may be useful for employment in many countries of the world, and is recognised by employers in Denmark, Italy, Brazil, Turkey and almost all Eastern European countries.
IELTS is valid for two years. After that period, your language skills will need to be demonstrated again. Many institutions have their own validity periods shorter than two years. For example, the Australian Department of Immigration, which deals with student visa applications, requires an IELTS certificate not older than six months.
IELTS is a diagnostic exam. That means you can't fail it altogether; you can only get a 0 if you don't take the exam at all. If you appear for the exam you are guaranteed a certificate with a score between 1 and 9. Typically, a score of 6 or 7 is required for study at a university abroad.
The IELTS exam is designed to give a comprehensive assessment of your language skills. The test covers the four main language skills: listening (listening comprehension), reading, writing and speaking. Each skill is assessed separately and these scores then contribute equally to the final result.
Some institutions may set their requirements not only for the overall score, but also for the score in individual modules. For example, many universities in Australia require an IELTS overall score of 6.0, provided the written skills score is at least 6.0.
Each part of the IELTS test focuses on a specific skill in English, but some test items require other skills as well. The most common skills required are Writing and Speaking.