Did you know that the IELTS test is trusted and accepted by thousands of institutions worldwide?
Whether your goal is to study abroad or work in an English-speaking country, the IELTS test can serve as a stepping stone to help you get there.
The IELTS test is a reliable and effective way to test your English skills and to show future employers and admissions officers that you have the skills needed to succeed.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the different benefits of the IELTS test.
What is IELTS?
IELTS holds the title of being the world’s most popular English language proficiency test. Every year, over three million people take IELTS. If you want to study, work or immigrate to an English-speaking country, you might need to take the IELTS test.
Did you know that over 11,000 organizations trust IELTS? There’s a good chance that your future educational institution, employer, or immigration authority will accept your IELTS score as proof of your English fluency.
IELTS tests your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. There are two types of IELTS test:
The Listening and Speaking sections are the same on both versions. The Writing and Reading sections vary. For example, you’ll be asked to write an academic essay on the Academic Training test, whereas on the General Training version, you’ll write a business-style letter. All other aspects of the two versions, such as timing, length of written responses, and scoring, are the same.
IELTS scores are given on a 9-band scale, ranging from band 1 to band 9. Your overall score is an average of your separate scores in all four tests. A high band score means that you are ready to study, live or work in an English-speaking environment.
Reasons for Taking IELTS
Being able to communicate in English connects you to a larger world. Currently, about 20% of the world’s population speaks English, although most aren’t native speakers. English is also the world’s most-studied foreign language. With so many people studying and learning English, proficiency exams like IELTS help admissions officers and prospective employers to get an accurate picture of your current English level.
However, IELTS isn’t the only English-language proficiency exam out there. Let’s take a look at what sets it apart and makes it different.
1. Tests Your English Conversational Skills
IELTS tests English conversation skills through a face-to-face speaking test. This means that candidates are assessed by having a conversation with a real person. IELTS is a good choice for you if you feel more comfortable speaking to a real person than speaking into a computer microphone. The IELTS interview is recorded and lasts from 11 – 14 minutes.
2. Both Paper and Computer-Based Tests Available
If you prefer to take a paper-based test, IELTS has you covered. While many other exams are offered solely on a computer, with IELTS, you can choose whether you’d like to take a paper or computer-based test. The paper test and the computer test are precisely the same. You write down your answers to the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections on the paper test. On the computer test, you type your answers into the computer. The Speaking test is always held face-to-face with a trained examiner.
Keep in mind that your results will be ready sooner if you take a computer test (in 5 – 7 days, compared to 13 days for the paper test) and that you will have more test dates to choose from at your local testing center.
3. Short Exam
- Listening (30 minutes) – You’ll listen to 4 recordings and answer a total of 40 questions.
- Reading (60 minutes) – You’ll read three passages and answer a total of 40 questions.
- Writing (60 minutes) – There are two writing tasks, in which you’ll be asked to write a minimum of 150 words and 250 words, respectively.
- Speaking (11 – 14 minutes) – You’ll have a face-to-face interview with an IELTS examiner. You’ll be asked general questions about yourself, and then you’ll be given a card and asked to speak about a particular topic.
It’s important to note that the Speaking test can be taken on a different day as a week before or after the other sections. This is a good option if you prefer to break the test up and not have so much to do on a single day.
Other proficiency exams can last over 3 hours, so the relatively shorter length of the IELTS test may make it more appealing to some test takers.
4. British vs. American English
There’s no doubt that British English more influences the IELTS test. After all, IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, Cambridge Assessment English, and IDP Education Australia. Still, both American and British English are accepted on the exam, and it doesn’t matter which one you use. You won’t be marked down for writing “recognized” instead of “recognized” or using American pronunciation.
What’s more, the IELTS Listening test features native English speakers from various English-speaking countries, although the majority of accents will be British. If you’re more comfortable and familiar with British English, you may prefer IELTS.
Why Take the IELTS Exam?
While there are many reasons for taking the IELTS test, most test-takers do so because they plan to study, work or immigrate to an English-speaking country.
IELTS for Study
Did you know that 100% of UK universities and most universities worldwide accept IELTS Academic test results? While each university sets its requirements for the minimum band score, it’s good to know that your IELTS score will be widely accepted no matter where you go.
If you would like to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree program, IELTS Academic is the right exam. IELTS General Training is more suited for programs that don’t give a degree.
Your prospective university will want to ensure that you have the necessary skills to succeed in an academic environment. Therefore, a higher band score will be needed if you’re applying for a Masters’s or Ph.D. program. You should contact your future university directly to find out the minimum band score required for the program of your choice.
IELTS for Work
You’ll most likely need to prove your degree of English fluency to get a work visa. This is an important step in the process of working abroad. To apply for a work visa, you will need to demonstrate either “competent” or “vocational” English skills. Each country has different requirements for the minimum band score, depending on which type of visa you’re applying for.
An overall band score of 7.0 is needed for a Tier 1 (General) Visa in the UK. In contrast, an overall band score of 4.0 is required for Tier 2 (General) Visas, Entrepreneur Visas, and Exceptional Talent Visas.
To work in Australia, an overall score of 4.5 is needed to show that you have Functional English.
In New Zealand, the band score requirements range from 4.0 to 6.5, depending on the type of visa you’re applying for. For example, if you’re using a Skilled Migrant, you need an overall band score of 6.5. And if you’re applying as an Entrepreneur, you need an overall band score of 4.0 in either the IELTS General or Academic test.
If you’d like to know about work visa requirements in Canada, it’s best to check directly with your sponsoring organization to find out their specific needs.
IELTS for Immigration
IELTS is accepted as proof of your English proficiency for migration to the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, each of these countries sets its own requirements.
If you’d like to settle permanently in the UK, then you’ll need to apply for a long resident visa or “leave to remain.” IELTS minimum score requirements vary widely from 4.0 to 7.0, depending on which category you fall under.
In Australia, IELTS is accepted by the Department of Home Affairs for permanent residency and most visas. The minimum band score needed for immigration to Australia is 6.0.
If you’d like to immigrate to New Zealand, you can show your IELTS score as evidence of your English proficiency. The minimum score needed for immigration is 6.5.
What Does it Mean to Have IELTS Certification?
Now that we’ve covered how widely accepted IELTS certification is, let’s take a closer look at the exam itself.
IELTS is a very comprehensive exam. The acronym IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It tests your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.
- The Listening test has 40 questions and is meant to assess a wide range of listening skills, such as how well you understand an argument, comprehend the opinions of different speakers, and identify the main ideas of a conversation.
- The Reading test also has 40 questions. It consists of three texts. After you read the texts, you will answer questions that show how well you understood the main ideas as well as details and subtleties such as indirect references and inferences.
- The Writing test contains two tasks. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2. The purpose of the essay questions is to test how well you organize your ideas and to gauge the scope of your vocabulary and grammar.
- In the Speaking section of the test, you will have an interview with a certified IELTS examiner. The speaking exam consists of the following:
- First, you will be asked to introduce yourself to the examiner.
- Second, you will receive a topic card and speak about that specific topic.
- In the final part, you’ll be asked more detailed questions about the topic, giving you a chance to develop and discuss your ideas.
6 Benefits of Taking the IELTS Exam
Although most people take the IELTS to study or work abroad, additional benefits are gained from experience.
1. Objective Assessment of your English Abilities
Test writers from different English-speaking countries write the IELTS test. IELTS test writers are highly specialized in developing content that accurately assesses your English skills. And IELTS examiners are trained to recognize your exact English level. You can trust that your IELTS score is a precise reflection of your English skills at a specific point in time.
2. A Widely-Recognized Certificate
Maybe you initially took the IELTS test for work and then decided to further your education by studying abroad instead. The good news is that the popularity of IELTS means that you can use it to showcase your English skills in a variety of situations and countries, including your home country!
3. Improve your English Skills
The process of preparing to take the IELTS test will significantly improve your English skills.
IELTS has official practice materials available on its website, and there are numerous websites devoted to helping test takers to prepare for this critical exam. Taking practice IELTS tests will show you both your strong points and your weak points so that you know exactly where you stand.
4. The English that You Need
If you’re taking IELTS Academic to get into your dream university, the process of studying for the exam will help you prepare for academic life. Not only will you add new words and terms to your vocabulary, but you will also enforce good study habits that will help you to succeed academically.
5. Motivation to Study Harder
There’s nothing like an upcoming test date to motivate us to study! If you’ve been having trouble studying and staying focused, signing up to take the IELTS can get you going. With a clear goal in mind, you will find it easier to manage your time and stay focused, especially when you consider the
6. Greater Career Opportunities
Your IELTS score will help your application stand out whether you’re applying for a job abroad or showcasing your English skills in your home country. Proving your English language skills can help you get a new job or a promotion in your home country and abroad. Your IELTS score on your resume will show future employers that you are a serious and committed candidate.
The IELTS test is widely recognized and accepted throughout the English-speaking world. Taking the IELTS and demonstrating your English skills will open up many new opportunities for you. If you prepare well for the exam, your IELTS score will showcase your English proficiency and help you to go further.
Additional FAQs on the IELTS Exam
Is IELTS Valid for Life?
Your IELTS score will be valid for two years after the test date. A Test Report Form containing your IELTS score will be sent to your mailing address. Additional Test Report Forms can be sent to the institution(s) or embassy of your choice during the 2-year period that your scores remain valid. The scores only stay valid for two years because they should be a reflection of your current English skills.
Can I Retake the IELTS?
Yes, you can retake the IELTS test as many times as you like and use any result that you want. It’s important to note that you cannot retake individual sections of the test. For example, if you scored well in the Listening, Reading, and Speaking sections and poorly in the Writing section, you cannot retake only the Writing section. Your only option is to retake the entire test.
Is IELTS Good for Your Career?
Yes, taking the IELTS test can help you get ahead in your career. IELTS isn’t only for those who want to work abroad – a strong IELTS score can help you land a new job or promotion in your home country, too. Achieving a score of 6.0 or above will significantly enhance your work prospects wherever you are! You can also use IELTS for vocational training, for example, if you’d like to work in the tourism, hospitality, and leisure, or construction industries.