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IELTS Overview

  • Exam Name: IELTS (International English Language Testing System).
  • Description: A test to assess your proficiency in English.
  • Suitable for: The IELTS Academic test is suitable for undergraduate or postgraduate students.
  • Countries in Which Accepted: 140+
  • Preferred Score Range: 7 to 8
  • Flexibility: There are no limits to the number of times you can attempt the exam and test-takers may register for another exam as soon as they feel ready to do so.
  • Registration Fee: INR 14,000


  • Introduced 26 years ago by the by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English.
  • It is the most popular English language test globally.
  • It is useful if you want to apply for graduate or post-graduate courses abroad.
  • There are two formats online and offline (on-paper).
  • The speaking test takes place face-to-face with an examiner.



IELTS is one of the most popular English Language tests globally and is a pre-requisite to gain admission in several graduate or postgraduate courses abroad. Short for International English Language Testing System, IELTS assesses your proficiency in English.

IELTS was introduced 26 years ago and is jointly owned and conducted by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English.

You can take the test in two formats, online and offline. Both formats require you to be present at the centre. In the online test, you key in your answers on a computer, and in the offline format, you write your answers with a pencil on a paper. An examiner conducts the speaking section for bothformats. This particular evaluation method is a unique aspect of this test.

If you are thinking about pursuing higher education abroad, this exam is a crucial part of the admissions process. A poor showing here could potentially derail an otherwise strong application. Hence, it is essential to know what the test is about, how it is conducted, and why it is important.

Countries in which IELTS is accepted

UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia accept IELTS. The immigration authorities of these countries cite IELTS as a pre-requisite for visa applications and immigration purposes. Hence,it is also a standard requirement for studying at universities in these countries.

The test is also accepted by over 10,000 institutions worldwide, including a few universities in the USA and non-native English speaking countries like Germany and France.

What's New

What's New

In January 2020, a few small changes were introduced to the instructions and layout of the paper-based Listening test:

  • The word 'Sections' was changed to 'Parts' – The paper-based test will now be divided into Part 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • The Part 1 example was removed.
  • Page number references have also been removed.

COVID protocol

Due to COVID-19, the test centres expect candidates to follow a set of guidelines:

  • Facemasks are compulsory during the test. You will need to remove your facemask only when they check your identity at the time of entry into the test centre. The centre will check your temperature at the time of entry.
  • The test centres recommend that you do not come if you have had COVID-19 within 30 days of the test or if you have any symptoms on the test day. In such cases,the test centres may offer you a refund or the option to postpone.
  • Due to COVID-19, the speaking time slot that you may have selected might not be available, and hence you will receive the details of the speaking test 48-72 hours before the test date. You can also give your speaking test over a video-call. Your test centre will inform you about how you can set it up.

IELTS Eligibility

The IELTS test is open to anyone who wishes to give the examas long as you have a valid passport. It is not recommended for people under the age of 16.

IELTS Registration

Registration Fee

An IELTS test (online or offline) costs INR 14,000, which is inclusive of all taxes. You can pay the registration fees online via funds transfer, credit or debit cards. Though test centres do not accept cash or cheques, you can make a demand draft payable to the test centre where you have registered.

Refund Rules: You are eligible for a refund,but you need to apply for it five weeks before the test date. It will help if you read the refund rules for each test centre as they have the discretion while dealing with refunds on account of cancellation or rescheduling of a test date.

Steps to Register for IELTS

Registering for the IELTS is a fairly straightforward process. You can find a test centre near you on the IELTS website. Tests are conducted by the British Council or the International Development Program (IDP) Education India.

Before you start with the registration process, make sure you have a scanned copy or a photo of your passport. You will need to upload the first and last pages of your passport. The passport needs to be valid, and you will need to produce it on the day of the test, so make sure you carry it on the day of the test.

The test centres are strict about the identity proof and will not allow you to take the test if your passport is not valid or if youdo not have your passport with you on the test day. You will be treated as a no-show, and no refund will be allowed in such a case. If yourpassport is valid on the registration date buthas expired before or expires on the day of the test, it will not be treated as a valid proof of identity.

When you book your test and choose a location, you will be allocated either a British Council Test Centre or an IDP Test Centre. In some major cities, you will have the option of choosing between the two. The two centres hold tests at different times and days of the week.

Once you choose either IDP or British Council, you will be asked to pick between a paper-based test and a computer-delivered test.

Next, you will be directed to the website of IDP or British Council based on your selection. Here, you can pick your dates and slots. The Speaking test is conducted on a different day from the Writing, Reading and Listening tests.

The timing and frequency of tests vary between IDP and British Council. If you have multiple test centres, look for easiest to reach and those that offer convenient time slots. You don't want to arriveat the centre after a harrowing journey.

IELTS Structure

The IELTS tests you on all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking.

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are held on the same day and need to be taken without any breaks. All three tests are completed within 2.5 hours.

The Speaking test may be taken up to seven days before or after the other three tests. The date of the Speaking test may change on account of COVID-19 related restrictions or complications.


Time Limit




30 minutes


There are four recordings with ten questions each


60 minutes


Three reading passages designed to test a wide range of reading skills


60 minutes

2 tasks

Two writing tasks. Both must be completed


11-14 minutes

3 tasks

The test is conducted by an examiner and consists of three parts

Here's a snapshot of the four tests:


You need to answer 40 questions within 30 minutes in this test. The test aims to assess your skills at understanding key ideas and facts and recognising a speaker's opinions and attitudes.

The test is further divided into four sections:

  • A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context
  • A monologue set in an everyday social context such as announcements at a public place
  • A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context
  • A monologue on an academic subject such as a lecture

You can listen to a section only once.


You need to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes in this section. You are tested on your ability to understand the gist and the main ideas mentioned in the text. The Reading test has three sections, whose combined length is around 2,500 words. Each section has one long text sourced from books, journals, magazines and newspapers that have been written on topics of general interest.

This section will test your ability to read and comprehend a piece of text at a fast speed.


This is a 60-minute test that has two tasks. In Task 1, you are expected to write a minimum of 150 words, and in Task 2, you need to write at least 250 words. The marking is divided between the two tasks, with Task 2 contributing twice as much as Task 1 to the overall Writing score.

In Task 1, you will be given a graph, chart,table or a diagram and you will be asked to write about it. You will be assessed on your ability to organise, present, compare or describe the data presented to you.

In Task 2, you will need to write an essay in response to the point of view, argument or a problem.The issues raised are of general interest, and you are judged on your ability to present and justify your opinion, present implications and challenges or provide solutions.

You are expected to write in an academic, semi-formal style for both the tasks.


The shortest of the four tests is usually conducted in person (post-COVID-19, you may give this test over a video call). It lasts less than 15 minutes and is divided into three tasks.

You will first be asked to introduce yourself and speak about your family, hobbies, interests etc.

In the second task, you will be given a topic to speak about. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes and then expected to talk about it for two minutes. The examiner may ask you a few questions on the topic.

Finally, the examiner will have a conversation with you, which will be an extension of the second task's topic. This will be for around three minutes.

Be calm, composed and coherent. You have only 15 minutes to make an impression.

IELTS Score Calculation

The IELTS test scores you based on bands from 0 to 9. The nine-band scale is ranked in an ascending order to identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (1) to expert (9).

The IELTS band score scale.




Expert user


Very good user


Good user


Competent user


Modest user


Limited user


Extremely limited user


Intermittent user




Did not attempt the test

Most Ivy League universities accept a minimum IELTS score of 7, while others accept a minimum of 6.5. The minimum IELTS scores can also vary from department to department, depending on thecourse.

Many universities ask that you have a minimum band of 6.5 in each of the four sections. So, even if you have an overall band score of 7, a university may reject your application if you have scored below 6.5 in any one of the sections (for example, let's say you score 8 in Reading and Writing but only 6 in Speaking).

IELTS scores are often valid only up to two years in most organisations and universities. Hence, doing the test too soon may not be advisable.

The Overall Band Score and band scores for each of the four components - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking - are provided in the final test result. It is the average of the four component scores. These scores are reported in whole or half bands (7 or 7.5, not 7.3).

If your average score ends in .25 or above, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next half band (if it is lower than .25, then it is rounded down). If you get a 7.3, your score will be rounded up to 7.5, but a 7.2 would be rounded down to 7.

Similarly, if the average of your scores is .75 or above, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next whole band.

The Reading and Listening sections have 40 questions each, with one mark allocated to a correct answer. The Speaking and Writing sections are graded on four criteria each. Each criterion has equal weight,and the band score is an average of marks received across all of them.

The criteria for Writing are:

The criteria for Speaking are:

  • Task Achievement (for Task 1)
  • Task Response (for Task 2)
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range
  • Accuracy and Pronunciation


Band Score

Raw Score out of 40









Academic Reading:

Band Score

Raw Score out of 40









Tips to Prepare for IELTS

IELTS may look deceptively easy, but you should be careful not to lower your guard. Good preparation is the key. Mock tests are an effective way to understand how the exam is conducted. They also help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses and the sections you need to focus on.

The Reading and Writing segments are closer to other tests you have given in your academic life. Care is needed in Listening, which requires you to pay attention and take notes.

Many students find the Speaking test tough to ace. You should practise a lot and make sure you speak clearly and put forth your points of view coherently.

Here are a few Pro Tips that you can follow while giving the exam:

  • In the Reading and Listening modules, answer all questions, even those about which you are not sure. There is no negative marking.
  • Listening can be tricky since the recording is played only one. Focus and pay rapt attention.
  • Thepaper and computer-based tests cost the same and have the same duration. So, before you select your format, see where you are faster and more comfortable. Writing by hand and typing on a screen requires two different skill sets.
  • Read your Writing questions properly. No matter how well you have written your piece, you will be marked down if it doesn't fulfil what the task demanded.
  • Practice Speaking with someone. You have very little time in this test, and hence you need to be clear and coherent. This is easier said than done. There are no right or wrong answers in this section, but a lot of hinges on your personality and your ability to speak well.
  • There is a lot of material for IELTS online. But before you rush into paying for some of it, first go through all the material offered on the official website. You will find mock tests and exercises for each section.

Pro Tip

To make sure you get the test slot, you desire, book early. IELTS tests are in high demand and get booked out quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a refund if I am unable to take the test?

You can get a refund (minus a 25% administration fee) if you cancel five weeks before the test.

Can I change the dates of my test?

Yes. But it needs to be done five weeks before the date of the test. You need to provide an application, and there may also be a charge for changing the test date.

What happens if I lose my Test Report Form (TRF)?

You can apply for Additional Test Report Form on the IELTS official website. The first five forms are processed free; you will have to pay Rs 250 per form after that.

How long are IELTS scores valid?

They are valid for two years.

Are there age restrictions for IELTS?

No. But it is not recommended for people under the age of 16.

Can I resit an IELTS test?

Yes, you can.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can sit for IELTS test?


Can my test be cancelled due to COVID-19?

Yes. There is a possibility. You will be informed about the same.

When will I get my IELTS test results?

Pen and paper-based IELTS results will be available online on the 13th day.

Computer-delivered IELTS results will be available online within 3-5 days. The Test Report Form is couriered to you 10 days from the date of the result.