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The International English Language Testing System is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP and Cambridge English, and was established in 1989. IELTS is one of the major English-language tests in the world. The IELTS test has two modules:
Academic and General Training. IELTS One Skill Retake was introduced in 2023, which allows a test taker to retake any one section (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) of the test.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, European, Irish and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organizations across the world.
IELTS is approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as a Secure English Language Test for visa applicants both outside and inside the UK. It also meets requirements for immigration to Australia, where Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Pearson Test of English Academic are also accepted, and New Zealand. In Canada, IELTS, TEF, or CELPIP are accepted by the immigration authority.
No minimum score is required to pass the test. An IELTS result or Test Report Form is issued to all test takers with a score from “band 1” (“non-user”) to “band 9” (“expert user”) and each institution sets a different threshold. There is also a “band 0” score for those who did not attempt the test. Institutions are advised not to consider a report older than two years to be valid, unless the user proves that they have worked to maintain their level.
In 2017, over 3 million tests were taken in more than 140 countries, up from 2 million tests in 2012, 1.7 million tests in 2011 and 1.4 million tests in 2009. In 2007, IELTS administered more than one million tests in a single 12-month period for the first time ever, making it the world’s most popular English language test for higher education and immigration.
In 2019, over 508,000 international students came to study in the UK, making it the world’s most popular UK ELT destination. Over half (54%) of those students were under 18 years old.
The English Language Testing Service (ELTS), as IELTS was then known, was launched in 1980 by Cambridge English Language Assessment (then known as UCLES) and the British Council. It had an innovative format, which reflected changes in language learning and teaching, including the growth in ‘communicative’ language learning and ‘English for specific purposes’. Test tasks were intended to reflect the use of English language in the ‘real world’.
During the 1980s, test taker numbers were low (4,000 in 1981 rising to 10,000 in 1985) and there were practical difficulties administering the test. As a result, the IELTS Revision Project was set up to oversee the redesign of the test. In order to have international participation in the redesign, the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP), now known as IDP: IELTS Australia, joined Cambridge English Language Assessment and the British Council to form the international IELTS partnership which delivers the test to this day. This international partnership was reflected in the new name for the test: The International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
IELTS went live in 1989. Test takers took two non-specialised modules, Listening and Speaking, and two specialised modules, Reading and Writing. Test taker numbers rose by approximately 15% per year and by 1995 there were 43,000 test takers in 210 test centres around the world.
IELTS was revised again in 1995, with three main changes:
There was one Academic Reading Module and one Academic Writing Module (previously there had been a choice of three field-specific Reading and Writing modules)
The thematic link between the Reading and Writing tasks was removed to avoid confusing the assessment of reading and writing ability
The General Training Reading and Writing modules were brought into line with the Academic Reading and Writing modules (same timing, length of responses, reporting of scores).
Further revisions went live in 2001 (revised Speaking Test) and 2005 (new assessment criteria for the Writing test).
IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are designed to cover the full range of abilities from non-user to expert user. The Academic version is for test takers who want to study at the tertiary level in an English-speaking country or seek professional registration. The General Training version is for test takers who want to work, train, study at a secondary school or migrate to an English-speaking country.
The difference between the Academic and General Training versions is the content, context, and purpose of the tasks. All other features, such as timing allocation, length of written responses, and reporting of scores, are the same.
IELTS Academic and General Training both incorporate the following features:
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IELTS tests the ability to listen, read, write and speak in English.
The speaking module is a key component of IELTS. It is conducted in the form of a one-to-one interview with an examiner. The examiner assesses the test taker as they are speaking. The speaking session is also recorded for monitoring and for re-marking in case of an appeal against the score given.
A variety of accents and writing styles have been presented in test materials in order to minimize linguistic bias. The accents in the listening section are generally 80% British, Australian, New Zealander and 20% others (mostly American).
IELTS is developed by experts at Cambridge English Language Assessment with input from item writers from around the world. Teams are located in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other English-speaking nations.
Band scores are used for each language sub-skill (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). They are averaged out to derive the overall band score for each test taker. Buy Genuine IELTS certificate online.