University Admissions: The IELTS Exam

University Admissions: The IELTS Exam

QS Staff Writer

Updated September 13, 2021 Updated September 13

Find out what you need to know about taking the IELTS, one of the tests of English proficiency most commonly required by universities.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), is designed to assess the all-round English language abilities of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication.

IELTS scores are accepted as proof of English language proficiency of students whose native language is not English by over 2,000 educational institutions worldwide.

The test measures a candidate's ability to communicate using all four language skills - speaking, writing, listening and reading. It is offered in two test formats: Academic and General Training. 

The Academic format should be your choice if you are planning to undertake undergraduate or postgraduate study, or are seeking professional registration. Meanwhile General Training is the best option for those undertaking work experience or training programs not at degree level, or for immigration to countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The test is available to be taken up to four times in a month in 304 locations across 150 countries, making it one of the most widely and frequently available tests in the world.

IELTS test results are reported on a band scale from 1 to 9 where 1 is a non-user and 9 is an expert user. Most educational institutions set IELTS score requirements between 5.5 and 7.

IELTS results are available within 13 working days of taking the test. The test center can send up to five original copies of your results direct to the receiving institutions without additional of charge.

In addition to educational institutions, your IELTS score will also be accepted by employers, professional bodies, government departments and immigration authorities in many countries including Australia, Canada, Europe, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and USA.

IELTS is run by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. While the University of Cambridge manages the production of the question papers and their distribution; the British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia manage the test administration, quality and security control, marketing, the training of examiners and clerical markers.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in September 2021