Note: Changes to the English ‘competent’ are expected July 1st, 2017 details can be found on our BLOG.


What is the purpose of the IELTS test?

IELTS is available in two versions: Academic and General Training. Each is designed to meet particular purposes.


IELTS Academic is intended to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication.

IELTS General Training is intended for candidates who are going to English-speaking countries to complete their secondary education, to undertake work experience or training programmes not at degree level, or for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


Who accepts IELTS scores?

IELTS is recognised by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. It is also recognised by professional bodies (including medical authorities), immigration authorities and other government agencies.


Who runs IELTS?

IELTS is run by an international partnership of University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia.


What does the test consist of?

IELTS includes tests of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total test length is 2 hours 44 minutes, made up of Listening (30 minutes), Reading (1 hour), Writing (1hour) and Speaking (11-14 minutes). The Speaking Test is administered face to face with a trained examiner. Modified test versions are available for candidates with special requirements.


IELTS Listening

Listening test, 40 questions (band scores are approximate):

Band Score 9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
Score / 40 39-40 37-38 35-36 32-34 30-31 26-29 23-25 18-22 16-17 13-15 10-12 8-10 6-7 4-5


IELTS General Reading

General reading test, 40 questions (band scores are approximate):

Band Score 9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
Score / 40 40 39 37-38 36 34-35 32-33 30-31 27-29 23-26 19-22 15-18 12-14 9-11 6-8


IELTS Academic Reading

Academic reading test, 40 questions (band scores are approximate):

Band Score 9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
Score / 40 39-40 37-38 35-36 33-34 30-32 27-29 23-26 19-22 15-18 13-14 10-12 8-9 6-7 4-5


Where can candidates take IELTS?

There are currently more than 300 authorised test centres in over 100 countries worldwide. IELTS test centres around the world are managed by the British Council or IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia. In the US, IELTS centres are managed by IELTS International.


Test centres are listed on the IELTS website

When can candidates take IELTS?

IELTS Academic modules are administered on 48 fixed dates each year. General Training modules are administered on 24 fixed dates each year.

How much does it cost to take IELTS?

IELTS is delivered at a fixed price in each country. This price is made up of a standard central fee and a variable local fee. Details of centre locations, test dates and fees can be accessed from the IELTS website

How are results reported?

Candidates receive scores on a band scale of 1 to 9 which has remained constant since 1980. Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe written and spoken performance at the nine IELTS bands. A profile score is reported for each skill.

The individual skill scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score. More details of how final scores are calculated and estimates of reliability can be found in the document ‘Score Processing, Results and Interpretation’.

Results are available 13 days after the test date.


Institutions may apply for access free of charge to verify results on-line and electronic downloads are available.


Additional Information

  • The IELTS website contains a wealth of further information about IELTS and is regularly up-dated. In particular, you may wish to review the following:
    IELTS Application Form. The Application Form also contains the Notice to Candidates with information, advice and regulations for IELTS candidates. IELTS Information for Candidates. This leaflet provides a description of the test and sample items together with guidance on procedures. It is given to every candidate applying to take an IELTS test, and on the Application Form, the candidates sign to confirm that they have received a copy.
  • IELTS Specimen Materials This contains a full copy of practice tests with answers for each of the six modules. Copies are available for purchase from Cambridge ESOL, IELTS Australia and IELTS test centres.
  • The IELTS Annual Review is an annual publication providing a summary of the previous year’s milestones and achievements. Copies of the current and previous editions are also available for downloading from the IELTS website as pdf files. The History of IELTS is an account of the development of IELTS, and its predecessor ELTS, since 1980.
  • The analysis of test data (test performance and test-taker performance) Each year, multiple versions of each of the six IELTS modules (Listening, Academic Reading, General Training Reading, Academic Writing, General Training Writing, and Speaking) are released for use by centres testing IELTS candidates.
  • Technical information including reliability estimates for the objectively and subjectively scored modules used are reported on the IELTS website, as well as annual figures on test-taker performance with mean band scores for the test-taking population.


IELTS Research


All IELTS research activities are co-ordinated as part of a comprehensive and coherent framework for research and validation of the test.


IELTS Grants and Awards


Two major components of this research framework are the IELTS Masters Award and the IELTS Joint-funded Research Programme.


Details of organisations recognising IELTS and detailed descriptions of the test components can be found on the IELTS website 


Study IELTS online


IELTS Online is designed and developed by experienced IELTS test tutors and examiners at Australia's largest test centre - Macquarie University IELTS Test Centre.


Enroll to study IELTS Online


Alternative test types benchmarked as against the IELTS Band score

English Language
proficiency level
Test component IELTS TOEFL
Cambridge English:
Advanced (CAE)*
Functional Average/total/overall across test components only 4.5 32 30 147 n/a
Vocational Listening 5.0 4 36 154 B
Reading 5.0 4 36 154 B
Writing 5.0 14 36 154 B
Speaking 5.0 14 36 154 B
Competent Listening 6.0 12 50 169 B
Reading 6.0 13 50 169 B
Writing 6.0 21 50 169 B
Speaking 6.0 18 50 169 B
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 7.0 24 65 185 B
Reading 7.0 24 65 185 B
Writing 7.0 27 65 185 B
Speaking 7.0 23 65 185 B
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 8.0 28 79 200 A
Reading 8.0 29 79 200 A
Writing 8.0 30 79 200 A
Speaking 8.0 26 79 200 A

        *only for a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test taken on or after 1 January 2015.






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