IELTS is the International English Language Testing System. It measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication.
The paper-based test requires test takers to sit at a desk with the question and answer sheets for the Reading, Listening and Writing tests in an official IELTS test centre. Test takers will write their answers in either pen or HB-pencils. The Speaking test is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner.
The computer-based test requires test takers to sit the Reading, Listening and Writing tests in front of a computer with the questions presented on the screen in an official IELTS test centre. The test takers then submit their answers through the computer. The Speaking test is not on computer and is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. You can find out where computer- delivered IELTS is currently available at: ielts.org.
IELTS is available in two versions.
Academic is for those applying for higher education or professional registration.
General Training is for those migrating to Australia, Canada and the UK, or applying for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking environment.
If you’re unsure which one to take, check with the organisation you’re applying to.
Both versions provide a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
The General Training version is only different in the Reading and Writing tests. All candidates take the same Speaking and Listening tests.
The IELTS test has four sections: Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes), Speaking (11–14 minutes). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
You will take the first three parts on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held on either the same day or seven days before or two days after, depending on local arrangements.
IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores.
You will receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking, and an overall band score on a band scale from one (the lowest) to nine (the highest) which is the average score of all the skills. You can find out more about how IELTS is scored on ielts.org.
Your result will be valid for two years.
We Love IELTS has preparation resources to help you achieve IELTS success, whether you are a first-time test taker or resitting the test.
The best place to start is with our Resource Finder. Simply answer the questions on the page to find your perfect resource match. This may be one of our bestselling books, blog posts, videos or activities.
If you didn’t get the band score you needed on your first attempt at IELTS, don’t despair.
Before registering for another test, take a moment to consider your options.
Consider ways you can improve your English language proficiency to increase your band score. Taking the test again without improving your English language skills could waste your valuable time and money.
Take time to find out how the test is scored and what each band score means and says about your English language skills.
Familiarise yourself with the test format and different task types for each section.
You can improve your skills by using our preparation materials. Go to our preparation pages to find out more.
Learning a new language takes time and patience. Even though you haven’t got the score you need this time, don’t give up. Make good use of the experience and knowledge you have gained from the previous test and learn from your mistakes.
The length of time it takes to prepare for IELTS depends upon your level of English language proficiency and your target band score.
Everyone is different, learns differently and learns at a different pace so don’t put pressure on yourself to prepare in a short period of time.
You may want to take a practice test to get an understanding of your current level and your strengths and weaknesses. This will also give you more information on the format of the test. You can find practice tests and materials on our website.
There are many ways to improve your English language proficiency.
Here are just a few ideas:
1) Immerse yourself in English.
Alongside test-specific preparation, it can be helpful to read things that interest you in English; write in English (e.g. reviews of what you’ve read, and also emails and letters if you're taking the General Training IELTS); listen to native English speakers talking to each other, and talk to English speakers themselves if possible.
2) Expand your vocabulary.
As you read and listen to conversations in English, make a list of words you don’t recognise or understand. Look up these words online or in a dictionary to make sure they are spelled correctly in your list, and to properly understand the meaning of each word. Note down a synonym or short definition for the words, and practise using them in your writing and daily conversations.
3) Become an accent expert. (This one is a time saver!)
If you believe you have a good grasp of your English vocabulary, it’s time to make sure you can understand and respond to any English-speaking accent. Listening tasks in the test can come from British, American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand English speakers. To save time and confusion on the day of the exam, why not watch some British English news channels from various parts of the UK (YouTube is good for this), or listen to some Australian radio (you can listen online)? Being familiar with these accents will mean you’re prepared for anything.
4) Join our social media channels for daily tips and advice on preparing for IELTS and English language information.
A great way to improve your writing is to do timed essays. When you've finished writing, always check that you've addressed the question fully and no important details are missing, and make sure you allow yourself enough time to check your spelling and grammar. Check out the writing section of our website for more tips and advice.
You can also read a blog post on the topic here.
The best way to improve your reading is to read as much in English as you can. Read English language articles and newspapers such as BBC News, VOA or The Times in English. When you’re watching your favourite film or programme, put the subtitles on in English. You can find more tips and advice in the reading section of our website.
The best way to improve your listening is to listen to English as much as you can! We recommend listening to music, podcasts and the radio in English. Also, watching TV programmes and films in English (without reading the subtitles!) is a great way to improve your listening skills. Check out the listening section of our website for loads more information.
You can also read a blog post on the topic here.
The best way to improve your speaking is to speak English as much as possible! Talk to your friends, family and teachers in English; talk to yourself in English - recording yourself and listening to how you sound is a great way to improve too. Don't forget to listen to English as well - films, TV, podcasts - and try to imitate the way the native speakers say things. Check out the Speaking section of our website for more information and advice.
We provide a combination of free and paid for self-study materials. For example, study guides, grammar books, practice tests and online courses are paid for. But there’s lots of free materials too, including blogs, podcasts, videos and activities, to help you get started.
You can buy our recommended books by clicking on the red ‘purchase book’ button on the relevant product page. This takes you to an online bookstore called Book Depository which offers free delivery. Alternatively, you can find it in your local bookstore or online shop. Our online preparation materials are sold directly through Cambridge University Press.
We are a collaboration between Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment English, the organisation that writes the IELTS test. We produce the Official Cambridge IELTS preparation materials, trusted by millions of learners around the world. The We Love IELTS team consists of IELTS teachers, authors and former examiners with over one hundred years’ teaching experience between them.
We are not an IELTS preparation centre, but our team includes experienced IELTS teachers, authors and former examiners working together to support you on your IELTS journey.
You can join our social media communities, ask us questions on social, watch our videos and try the activities in our blogs. Our books, practice tests and other materials are designed for people who are studying by themselves, but if you’re looking for the support of a teacher, try our IELTS Online courses.
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