If you want to study, work, or migrate to an English-speaking country, you’ll probably need a certificate that displays your English fluency. Recognized by over 10,000 organizations worldwide, IELTS is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests globally.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about the IELTS certificate and how to get it.
Quick Facts about IELTS
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is administered by the British Council, IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. The IELTS test is designed to assess your English level and ability to succeed in an English-speaking environment.
It is usually taken by people who plan to study, work, or migrate to an English-speaking country.
What are the Different IELTS Exams?
There are three different types of IELTS exams – Academic, General Training, and UKVI.
- IELTS Academic is appropriate for people who want to study in an English-speaking country. Many students take this test to attend universities in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. The test is a good indicator of whether or not you are ready to study in English. It uses vocabulary that you are likely to encounter while studying in an English-speaking country.
- IELTS General Training is appropriate for people looking to study but not to pursue a degree. For example, studying at an English-speaking school or college. You can also take IELTS General Training to qualify for employment training or work experience.
IELTS General Training is required for migration to the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The test contains vocabulary you will need in everyday work and social situations in an English-speaking country.
- IELTS UKVI is the same as IELTS Academic when it comes to scoring, format, difficulty, and content. The only difference is that IELTS UKVI is approved by the UK Home Office for visa applications. People take the UKVI to study, work, or migrate to the UK.
What is IELTS Certification?
So now that you know which IELTS test is best for you let’s talk more about IELTS certification. Once you complete the IELTS exam, you will receive a Test Report Form (TRF). Your Test Report Form will be printed 13 days after your test date. You can either pick it up at your testing center, or it can be mailed to you. You will only receive one original copy of your Test Report Form, so it’s important that you keep it secure.
You will also be able to view your IELTS test results online. If you have taken the paper-based test, you will see your results 13 days after your test. If you have taken the computer-based test, you can view your results 3 – 5 days from the test date. Your IELTS results will remain online for 28 days, but they are not an official confirmation of your performance on the test. Your Test Report Form is the only official confirmation of your results that you will receive.
You can have up to 5 official copies of your Test Report Form sent to nominated organizations and institutions (e.g., universities, employers, and immigration authorities). Additional copies can be sent for a small fee.
Understanding your Test Report Form (TRF) and IELTS Results
IELTS scores are given in bands from 0 – 9. You will be given a separate score for each of the four sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The average of the four scores will then be taken to form your overall score.
The band scores are rounded up if necessary, so if your overall score happens to be 6.25, it will be rounded up to 6.5.
- The Listening section contains 40 questions and lasts a total of 30 minutes.
- The Reading section also contains 40 questions. You’ll have 60 minutes to read three passages and answer the questions.
- The Writing section contains two writing tasks. You’ll have 60 minutes to write 150 words and 250 words, respectively.
- The Speaking section lasts no more than 15 minutes. An IELTS examiner will ask you some general questions about yourself, and then you’ll be asked to pick a topic card and speak more in-depth about that particular topic.
Since there are only two writing tasks, this section carries the most weight when it comes to your final score. The second writing task is the most heavily weighted section of the entire test, so it’s important to prepare well for it!
Your Test Report Form number, which may also be referred to as a certificate number, can be found in the bottom right-hand corner of your Test Report Form. This is the only place you can find this important number (it’s not available online), so it’s essential to keep your test report form in a secure location.
Interpreting Your IELTS Results
The different band scores relate to an equivalent CEFR level.
CEFR stands for the Common European Framework of Reference and is a widely used assessment method to communicate in a foreign language.
|CEFR level||IELTS |
|C2||8.5 – 9.0||Proficient; expert user of the language|
|C1||7.0 – 8.0||Advanced; very good user of the language|
|B2||5.5 – 6.5||Competent; good user of the language|
|B1||4.5 – 5.0||Modest user of the language|
|A1 – A2||0.0 – 4.0||Limited/Extremely limited user of the language|
What is the Validity of the IELTS Certificate?
Your IELTS results will remain valid for two years from your test date. Scores “expire” after two years because they are intended to assess your current English level accurately.
Most organizations will not accept your results if they are more than two years old. However, there is a small chance your results will be accepted after more than two years if you can prove that you have actively maintained or improved your English since you last took the IELTS test.
But generally speaking, if you need to use your results more than two years after the test date, you will need to retake the test.
General, Academic, and UKVI Certificates
The Test Report Forms for General and Academic IELTS tests look the same. The box in the top right corner of the form will either say Academic or General Training, depending on which test you took.
The Test Report Form for the UKVI test will be marked as Academic in the top right corner, but it will contain a UKVI Number directly under the Candidate ID. The Centre Number will also set it apart, as it should be one of the UKVI approved test centers.
Unlike the Test Report Forms for the other two tests, it also contains the CEFR level.
How is IELTS Certification Different from TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, etc.?
As we mentioned earlier, IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It’s primarily designed to test the English skills of non-native English speakers who wish to study, live, or work in an English-speaking country. Upon completion of the test, you receive a Test Report Form (which some people may refer to as a certificate), which will prove your English level.
TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA are acronyms for different programs for people who want to teach English as a foreign language. TESOL, for example, stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Upon completing one of these programs, participants typically receive a certificate stating that they are eligible to teach English to non-native English speakers.
Can You Obtain an IELTS Certificate without A Exam?
If you’ve come across a particular person or website that tells you how to receive an IELTS certificate without an exam, watch out. The only way to obtain a Test Report Form (or “certificate”) is to take the IELTS test at an approved testing center.
Suppose someone tells you that you can receive a Test Report Form without taking the IELTS test. In these cases, the scammers often take your money without giving you a fake certificate. When the Test Report Form number is checked by an organization or institution, a fake certificate will be revealed for exactly what it is — a fake.
How to Obtain IELTS Certification?
If you want to take the IELTS test and receive a Test Report Form with your results, you can register at your nearest testing center. Once you have registered, you should use your time wisely to prepare for the test to get the best results possible.
Practice Tips for Getting Your IELTS Certificate
Before Your IELTS Test
- It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the test format before your test date. Once you know the question and task types for each section of the test, you will know what to expect when you sit the test.
- Another smart move is to read over the IELTS rules and regulations before your test date.
- IELTS has lots of sample questions on its website, which will help you get used to the types of questions you will see on the exam.
During Your IELTS Test
- When you sit the test, you want to be calm and focused. Hopefully, you had a good night’s sleep and ate a nourishing breakfast. Now that you have the test in front of you, it’s essential to manage your time well. If you’re having trouble answering a particular question, skip it and come back to it at the end of the session if you have time. This is especially true for the Reading and Listening sections, where you’ll need to answer 40 questions per section.
- For the Writing section, keep in mind that Task 2 is worth double the marks of Task 1, so you’ll want to make sure to spend the full 40 minutes on it.
- When it comes to the Speaking section, remember that it’s meant to be like a natural conversation between two people. If you don’t understand a word, you can ask the examiner to repeat themselves or rephrase the question. You’ll want to give full answers and use complete sentences (“yes” and “no” are not good enough!). If you notice a mistake, simply correct yourself and repeat your sentence correctly.
After Your IELTS Test
- If you’ve taken an IELTS computer-based test, your results will be online in 3 to 5 days.
- If you’ve taken an IELTS paper-based test, your results will be available online 13 days from your test date. Your results will remain online for 28 days but are not considered an official confirmation of your test performance.
- You can ask for up to 5 copies of your Test Report Form to be sent free of charge to various institutions (e.g., universities, immigration offices, etc.). They can either be viewed online, or a hard copy can be sent by mail. This service is available for two years from your test date and can be accessed through your account on the IELTS test taker portal.
Additional FAQs about IELTS Certificate
How Can I Get an IELTS certificate?
The only way you can receive an IELTS Test Report Form (which is sometimes referred to as a certificate) is to take the IELTS test at an official test center. You can search for a test center near you here. Your IELTS Test Report Form will be ready 13 days after your test date. You can either pick it up at your local test center or have it mailed to you.
Can I Get an Online IELTS Certificate?
No, your Test Report Form will not be available online. It only exists as a physical copy, which is either mailed to you or picked up personally at your local test center after taking the test. While your results will be available online 28 days after your test date, they are only provisional. While you cannot get an official copy of your IELTS results online, you can have a copy of your Test Report Form sent to the organizations and institutions of your choice.
Does IELTS Provide a Certificate?
Yes, IELTS does provide a certificate. The official name for this certificate is a Test Report Form (TRF). You will receive just one copy 13 days after your test date. You kept your TRF in a safe place, as it’s the only official result of your test performance.
Can I Have Another Copy of my IELTS Test Report Form (TRF)?
What happens if you lose your Test Report Form? While it is stressed that you will only receive one copy of your Test Report Form (or two if you prove that you are using your IELTS results for immigration purposes), it is possible to request another form if your TRF is lost or damaged. To request another one, you’ll need to write to the center where you took the test and provide a copy of the ID that you used on the test day.