IELTS,the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication. IELTS is jointly managed by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. IELTS conforms to the highest international standards of language assessment.
It covers the four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. 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, immigration authorities and other government agencies. IELTS is not recommended for candidates under the age of 16.
IELTS tests are administered at centres throughout the world there are currently over 300 centres operating in more than 100 countries. Centres supervise the local administration of the test and ensure the provision of qualified and trained examiners. A full list of centres is available on the IELTS website. Test centres run regular test administrations, according to local need and results are available within two weeks. Candidates receive only one copy of their results but additional copies may be sent by the test centre directly to receiving organisations at the request of the candidate.
There are no restrictions on candidates re-taking the test.
IELTS is available in two formats – Academic and General Training.
The Academic Reading and Writing tests assess whether a candidate is ready to study or train in the medium of English at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses is based on the results of these tests.
The General Training Reading and Writing tests are not designed to test the full range of formal language skills required for academic purposes, but emphasise basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context. General Training is suitable 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.
It is the responsibility of the candidate to inform the test centre whether they wish to take the Academic or General Training Modules. Centres are not responsible for providing this information. The General Training Module is not offered at all test administrations.
Candidates are tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests. There is a choice between Academic and General Training in the Reading and Writing tests.
The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user.
The first three tests – Listening, Reading and Writing – must be completed in one day. There is no break between the
tests. The Speaking test may be taken, at the discretion of the test centre, in the period seven days before or after the other tests.
A computerised version of IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing tests is available at selected centres, but all centres will continue to offer paper-based IELTS and candidates will be given the choice of the medium in which they wish to take the test.
PREPARING FOR TEST
It is not necessary to attend an IELTS preparation course though it is, of course, a good idea to prepare thoroughly for the test. An order form is given at the end of this Handbook for an Official IELTS Practice Materials pack. This includes a full practice test with an answer key and a CD of the Listening test and sample Speaking tests, so that candidates can get some idea of their level and familiarise themselves with the format of the test. There is also a wide range of published preparation materials.