English Exam Overviews: The IELTS

New_IELTS_logo.gifAs the exam of choice for 2 million test takers from more than 130 countries around the world, the International English Language Testing System is a major player in English language examinations. The IELTS, as the exam is widely known, owes its popularity not only to its track record but, as we shall see, its uniquely adaptable design.

What is the IELTS and what makes it unique?
Jointly operated by the prestigious University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and the British Council, the IELTS exam is similar to other English assessments in that it measures the reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities of test takers using a computer interface. Unlike other exams, however, the IELTS has two distinct formats whose names – Academic and General – are indicate the markets they are intended to serve. Though all candidates take the same speaking and listening sections, the content of the reading and writing will differ depending which version the a given candidate is taking. Because the content of the exam varies in this way, a single exam can help to serve the needs of both university admissions (Academic) and immigrations (General) offices while still maintaining consistency of style.

How is the IELTS scored?
Instead of giving test takers a single numerical score, the IELTS candidates are assigned to one of nine “bands” that is designed to represent their approximate English proficiency level. These levels range from non-user (1) to expert user (9) and each subdivisions includes specific details about a users proficiency level. Students might be considered limited users (4), for example, because they are able to express themselves clearly only in familiar situations and do not have a mastery of complex idioms and expressions. For more information about how the exam is score, see our more comprehensive overview.

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
The IELTS exam is offered at more than 500 testing centers in 130 countries around the world on 48 specific days a year. For more information about a location and date that meets your needs, visit the official IELTS Test Centre Search database.


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