FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE IELTS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE IELTS

This section on the frequently asked questions about the IELTS is an attempt to answer all the questions candidates/ test takers might have. While every effort has been made to keep the information correct and up to date, we always recommend you cross-check with either one of the official websites for the IELTS, IDP or British Council. You might also want to check in with your prospective employer/university to address specific queries.

You can also email me at anirban@capstonetutorials.com for any questions that are not answered here. Or you can WhatsApp me directly by clicking on the icon at the bottom right corner. 

What is the IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System, it is  designed to assess the English language proficiency of a candidate who wants to pursue higher education in a college or university (IELTS Academic)  wants to migrate to an English-speaking country (IELTS General Training) . 

What is the purpose and scope of the IELTS?

The purpose of the IELTS exam is to test the candidates’ ability to handle English language who want to study or work in a country where English is the language of communication. IELTS result is also necessary for immigration purposes.

IELTS provides a profile of a candidate’s English proficiency in the areas of READING, WRITING, SPEAKING, and LISTENING. The profile contains an indication of a candidate’s ability in each skill as well as an indication of overall ability, which is basically the simple average of the scores in each skill.

What are the two versions of IELTS?

IELTS test is available in two formats or modules – Academic and General Training.

Academic Module is suitable for those who are going to apply for further studies. If you are planning to get admitted to an UG or PG course at a college or university where English is necessary, you should take the Academic IELTS test. General Training IELTS score might not be accepted for this purpose.

General Training Module is appropriate for those who are going to English-speaking countries to complete work experience and training program, or applying to migrate to a country where English is spoken. 

The university or the immigration authority can tell you which form of IELTS you are required to take. 

What are the differences between Academic and GT version of IELTS?

The listening and speaking sections are exactly the same for both the Academic and General IELTS. 

The reading section differs slightly: for academic IELTS candidates, the reading passages are longer and more complex, the GT readings are shorter and basic.

In the writing section, the Academic candidates need to write a report or summary from a given chart, graph or diagram whereas the General Training candidates need to write a letter related to real-life issues. Task 2 of the writing part is same for both.

Who accepts the IELTS?

IELTS (Academic) is recognised by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Many universities in Europe also use the IELTS as a entry requirement. 

The IELTS (General Training) is also recognised by professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies.

Each year close to 3 million take the IELTS exam to prove their English language proficiency. IELTS is one of the most widely accepted international exams.

How is IELTS scored?

IELTS results are prepared on a 0 – 9 band scale in 0.5 increments. 

Each of the four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking are scored on a scale from 0 to 9. 

The 9 brands are defined as follows

9 Expert User

Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

8 Very Good User

Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies. Also handles complex and detailed argumentation well.

7 Good User

Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

6 Competent User

Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

5 Modest User

Has a partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. The candidate should be able to handle communication in his or her own field.

4 Limited User

Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in using complex language.

3 Extremely Limited User

Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

2 Intermittent User

No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

1 Non User

Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

0 Did not Attempt the test

The 0.5 intermediates such as 6.5, 7.5 etc are not defined.

Who conducts the IELTS test?

IELTS is owned and administered jointly by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. These organisations set the exam standard, maintain the IELTS exam, monitor the standard, review and change the exam format and everything related to the IELTS exam.

In India you can take the test from British Council or IDP.

Which countries accept IELTS Score?

IELTS (Academic) is accepted in the majority of all educational establishments operating in English in Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand. Some US Universities also use the IELTS. Many international immigration agencies also use the IELTS (General Training). Various professional and government organisations including the British and Australian Medical Councils also use the IELTS.

Many European countries where English is not the first language would ask for IELTS test score to accept admission to a university or college that offers courses in English.

Does the US accept IELTS?

Yes, it does. Over 3000 institutions and programmes in the USA accept IELTS scores as proof of English language skills, though a majority of them also accept the TOEFL and almost none of them insist on the IELTS over the TOEFL. Some however do insist on the TOEFL over the IELTS. Minimum score requirement in IELTS is usually upwards of 6.5. 

What is the computer-delivered IELTS?

The computer-delivered version of IELTS is an alternative to paper-and-pencil based IELTS exam. This test is also called CD-IELTS and this format has been introduced in India recently. You can sit for any of the two types. However, computer-delivered IELTS is available at selected cities and test centres only. To find out if your nearby test centre offers the Computer-delivered IELTS, you will need to contact them.

As of Jan 2020, the CD-IELTS is conducted across 20 cities in India

In Bangalore, the IDP has 2 CD-IELTS centres, one each at St. Marks Road and Whitefield. The British Council has a centre near Palace Road.

The Reading, Writing and Listening modules in Computer-delivered IELTS are conducted using a computer on the same day, the speaking module is conducted on a different day in a face-to-face interview with an examiner.

In the CD-IELTS Listening test, the timings are slightly different from the paper-based test (PBT). This is because the PBT requires users to transfer answers to an answer sheet. This step is not necessary when answering directly on a computer.

How much does it cost to take the IELTS?

Both the CD-IELTS and the PBT cost Rs. 13,250 in India. 

Can IELTS be an alternative to TOEFL?

YES, you can take either TOEFL or IELTS if the college or university you are going to apply accepts either one.

NO, if the college/university has a strict requirement for TOEFL, your IELTS score won’t be accepted. 

Generally speaking, most colleges, universities and immigration authorities accept either of these exams, but it’s better to check with your university or immigration authority before taking an exam.

Does the IELTS test differ in various parts of the world?

NO. IELTS is a global standardized test. In order to maintain fairness, the IELTS has to be the same everywhere. It cannot assess candidates from different geographical locations differently. However, the questions may vary across test locations or centres even within the same country. You are will most probably get a different question set for a different geographic location but the standard of questions, the difficulty level, the testing pattern and the evaluation will be the same.

Can I get a better score at an IELTS test centre than at others?

This is a terrible myth perpetuated mostly by immigration service consultants. 

The IELTS uses many means to ensure standardisation of band scores throughout geographic regions and across the world. 

NO TEST CENTRE is better than another; no test centre gives you any privilege or advantage related to the actual test.

When can I take IELTS?

IELTS test is available on 48 fixed dates a year – up to four times a month, depending on local demand. You should check with your local test centre for available schedules. 

The CD-IELTS can be taken on any day (usually 2 slots per day, morning and afternoon)

What is the age requirement for IELTS?

IELTS is recommended for candidates over the age of 16 and below the age of 64.

Can I change my test date or venue once I register for the test?

Yes, you can change the exam date and/or test venue two weeks before your exam date. However, it is subject to availability and you cannot change it to a different calendar year.

This will cost you a transfer/administrative fee.

Can I use a driving license/student ID card as a proof of my identity?

NO. In India, only the Passport is a valid identity document. 

Be sure that your passport is valid and hasn’t expired. 

Will I get any discount if I re-take the test?

No, there is no discount for re-taking IELTS.

Is there a break between the sections of the test?

No, the Listening, Reading and Writing components of the test are always completed immediately after each other and with no break in between.

What happens if I don’t appear/ am absent for the IELTS test ?

You won’t get an alternative date if you miss your exam for no valid reason. If you fail to appear for IELTS test for no valid reason, you will be treated as a ‘No Show’ candidate by the IELTS exam authority. 

Can I take IELTS exam more than once?

Yes, you may take the IELTS exam as many times as you want and as soon as you get the score from your most recent attempt. 

Please note that you will still be asked to indicate on your application form whether you have taken the IELTS test before or not. This information will not appear on the final report. 

Will my previous IELTS score affect my new score?

No. Each test will be a separate instance of measuring your ability. Even if you are taking IELTS a second or third or tenth time, your score will be based on your performance on that particular instance. 

Will my previous exam result become invalid if I re-take IELTS test?

No, all test results will remain valid for 2 years from the date you took the exam and you can any one of your test scores to apply. However, you cannot combine results from multiple tests.

Should I use a pen or pencil for the IELTS?

You must write your Listening and Reading answers with a pencil. The answer sheet is scanned by a computer which cannot read pen. It is advisable to bring more than one pencil to save times.

You can use either a pen or a pencil in your writing module. But you must use a pencil (NOT PEN) for the Listening and Reading exams.

When will I get my IELTS result?

The IELTS test centre will produce the result after 13 calendar days of the test. The CD-IELTS produces results within 5 to 7 days.

What can I do if I am not satisfied with my results?

You can apply for an enquiry on results (EoR) procedure within six weeks from the date you took the IELTS exam. 

The IELTS EoR fees for India is Rs. 9500. Your fee will be fully refunded if your band scores change due to reassessment.

I have taken IELTS but my previous score was higher. Can I use the previous score?

Yes, you can use any test result as long as it is valid (2 years from the test date).

Anirban Bose

Anirban Bose

Anirban is passionate about teaching and mentoring. He has more than 16 years of experience preparing students for GRE, GMAT and SAT.

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