What is the IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to measure English proficiency for educational, vocational and immigration purposes. The IELTS measures an individual’s ability to communicate in English across four areas of language: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
The IELTS is administered jointly by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment at over 1,000 test centers and 140 countries. These test centers supervise the local administration of the test and recruit, train and monitor IELTS examiners.
IELTS tests are available on 48 fixed dates each year, usually Saturdays and sometimes Thursdays, and may be offered up to four times a month at any test centre, depending on local needs. Go to the IELTS website at www.ielts.org to find a test centre near you and to check for upcoming test dates at your test centre.
Test results are available online 13 days after your test date. You can either receive your Test Report Form by post or collect it from the Test Centre. You will normally only receive one copy of the Test Report Form, though you may ask for a second copy if you are applying to the UK or Canada for immigration purposes – be sure to specify this when you register for IELTS. You may ask for up to 5 copies of your Test Report Form to be sent directly to other organizations, such as universities.
There are no restrictions on re-sitting the IELTS. However, you would need to allow sufficient time to complete the registration procedures again and find a suitable test date.

Which version of IELTS?

There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic IELTS and the General Training IELTS. The Academic IELTS is taken by people who wish to enrol in undergraduate and postgraduate courses and those who wish to undertake work experience at a graduate or postgraduate level. The General Training IELTS is taken by people who wish to complete their secondary education or undertake work experience or training programmes in an English speaking country, and by people who are planning to emigrate to the UK, Australia, Canada or New Zealand.
This IELTS book covers both the Academic and the General IELTS. The Listening and Speaking modules are the same for the General and Academic IELTS, but there are different versions of the Reading and Writing modules for the IELTS General Training exam.

Which version of English?

Since the IELTS is used widely in the UK and Commonwealth countries, it is written in British English. Its vocabulary and syntax will be completely understandable to anyone who has studied English in an English-speaking country. You do not have to use British English in the Writing module. However, you should use only one type of English – that is, stick with either British or American English – throughout the exam.

IELTS Modules

ModuleTotal TimeTasks
Listening30 minutesListen to 4 tracks (2 conversations, 2 monologues). Answer 10 questions on each track.
Reading60 minutesRead 3 passages. Answer 13–14 questions on each passage.
Writing60 minutesTwo tasks: Write a description of information in a chart, graph, table or diagram. At least 150 words. (20 minutes) Write an essay in response to an opinion or a question. At least 250 words. (40 minutes)
Speaking11-14 minutesAnswer questions about yourself and common topics.

The Listening, Reading and Writing modules are always taken on the same day, in that order, without a break. These three modules take a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Speaking module may be scheduled on the same day or up to a week before or after the other modules.

Need some help prepping for the IELTS? Check out Kaplan’s resources.