Why is IELTS the most famous English language test in the world?

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System), is a language test reserved for non-English speaking people. It assesses a person’s ability to understand, read, write, and speak English.

A comprehensive English language test

IELTS was developed in 1989 by the University of Cambridge, and later with the British Council and IDP Education Australia. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a language diploma, but a language test. Passing this test is a considerable asset for people who wish to enter renowned English-speaking universities. It is also useful for people looking for work or a career in countries with an English-speaking majority and is even required by migration services. Many universities in the United States require validation of an IELTS for admission. The test is valid for two years and can be taken in many countries. Currently, there are more than 800 test centers worldwide to take the IELTS. There are two versions of this test, the Academic IELTS, which is taken for those who wish to enter universities. For work in a foreign country, there is also the so-called “General IELTS Training”. Every year, more than 3 million people worldwide take the test, making IELTS undoubtedly one of the most popular language tests. However, before taking the test, it is advisable to do some preparation and simulation exercises beforehand. You can visit useful online platforms like GlobalExam for instance, this will help you prepare for your language test.

Test procedure

IELTS takes place every year in several examination centres accredited by the British Council. Depending on the country, the test is organised in one or two sessions per month. The duration of the test is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes. During this time, four different areas are tested: listening, reading, writing and speaking. First of all, in the oral comprehension part, there are 40 multiple-choice questions to be completed within 40 minutes. After that, there is written comprehension where 40 multiple choice questions are also answered, but based on the reading of 3 different texts. The time allowed to the candidate is 60 minutes. Then there is written expression in which two texts must be written, one of 150 words and the other of 250 words. The subject of writing varies every year and touches all areas of life. This test also lasts 60 minutes. Finally, the test ends with a 10 to 15 minute oral expression test in which the candidate has a direct interview with a judge who will ask various questions.

An advantage for some, a necessity for others

Compared to other English language proficiency tests, passing the IELTS is highly valued by universities, companies and English-speaking institutions around the world. It is a comprehensive test that assesses all language skills. In order to be able to study or work in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, passing this test is mandatory as it is required by the immigration authorities. It is even required by the world’s most reputable universities, with a minimum score of 6 to 7.5 depending on the chosen course of study. Several universities or companies accept people with a level of 6 and above. However, thanks to the possession of a high score – from 7.5 and above – the “Academic IELTS”, and the “General IELTS Training” opens the doors to the majority of the world’s universities or to most existing companies or institutions.

Practise well to take the test

The IELTS scoring system works by assigning a score from 1 to 9 for each game, and the overall average is obtained from these scores. A score from 1 to 4 corresponds to poor language practice, a score from 5 to 6 corresponds to an intermediate level, and a score above 6 is recognised as having a good level of English. The test result is available online 13 days after the test is taken. Contrary to popular belief, IELTS is not an easy test, as you need to know and be used to the different tests. In particular, many experiences have shown that even native speakers do not pass the test perfectly and have a score of 7.5 to 8 on average. Therefore, in order to ensure success in the test, it is best to train well. There are several websites that offer exercises to prepare for the language tests.

Tips for an IELTS Test immersion abroad
What is the IELTS test?