What is IELTS?
International English Language Testing System (IELTS), is an international standardized test for non-native English speakers to test their English Language Proficiency. It is proof of one’s English skills and language understanding. This test is a requirement for anyone who wishes to study, work or migrate to any country where English is a native language. IELTS certification is recognized by the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and 140 more countries all across the globe. It is accepted by more than 11,000 academic institutions, companies, professional bodies, and governmental organizations.
IELTS was initially known as English Language Testing Service when it was launched by Cambridge English Language (then known as UCLES) and the British Council in 1980.
At first, there was a smaller number of test-takers only about 4000 in 1981 which rose to 10,000 in 1985. There were some practical difficulties in organizing the test so, a revision project was set up for redesigning the test. To bring forth international participation in the redesign of the test, the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP), now known as IDP: IELTS Australia, joined Cambridge English Language Assessment and the British Council to form the international IELTS partnership in 1989. Today the number has risen to over 3 million test-takers annually.
Who owns IELTS? Who organizes IELTS tests?
IELTS is jointly owned by Cambridge Assessment English, British Council, and IDP: IELTS Australia since 1989.
In Nepal, British Council and IDP organize the IELTS tests.
What is IELTS required for?
If you are a person aspiring to study, work or live in an English-speaking country, then you should be able to show that you can talk in English easily. With 379 million speakers worldwide, English is the world’s third most spoken language.
IELTS is one most popular tests which are globally recognized by most employers, universities, schools, and immigration bodies. This is a required test popular among people who wish to migrate to English-speaking countries like the UK, USA Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
IELTS Academic or IELTS general
IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are the two types of IELTS tests.
The IELTS academic is suitable for students who want to pursue higher education in universities or other educational institutions. This test is most preferred for graduate students aspiring to study in universities as it requires a high level of understanding. This test’s topics befits universities or professional institution applicants.
IELTS General Training is suitable for those who wish to migrate, employment, and students below degree level. This test evaluates a person’s English proficiency in an everyday context. Therefore, the test has topics based on general interests, this test is found a little easier than IELTS academic.
So, usually, the ones who are moving to an English-speaking country to study take IELTS Academic while the ones who move for work and migration take the IELTS General test.
IDP or British Council? From where should one give their IELTS test?
There is no difference in the IELTS Test no matter where you choose to give your IELTS test. IDP and British Council do conduct the tests but the test is compiled by Cambridge English Language Assessment, you will get the same test no matter where you take the test.
The examiner for both IDP and British Council are trained in the same way, and the markings are done following the same criteria and the same band descriptors. And as for accents, IELTS uses a wide range of accents not only British and Australian accents but also American accents is used.
Thus, you don’t need to worry about choosing the ‘right’ test center you can simply choose the test center that is near and convenient for you.
How is the IELTS test taken?
IELTS is taken within 2 hours and 45 minutes– listening, reading, and writing is done in one sitting. The speaking test is held on the same day as the other tests otherwise a week prior to or later than the test date, it depends on the local arrangements. The tests can be computer-delivered as well as paper-based, the test takers are given the choice of how they would like to give the test.
Due to the ongoing pandemic worldwide, IELTS organizations have launched the IELTS Indicator Exam to aid students who are facing difficulties to take the test at a test center. It may not be acceptable by all organizations that accept IELTS scores, however, some organizations do accept IELTS indicator scores as it is near impossible at few places to take the IELTS test in the test centers. This test is only available to test takers in dire situations where they have no access to the IELTS test.
Paper-based IELTS or Computer-Aided IELTS?
You can choose either of the options for your test. While the paper-based test will require you to write answers for reading, writing, and listening on a paper answer booklet, the computer-aided test will require you to do the same through a computer. The speaking test will be the same, face-to-face conversation no matter what option you choose. You will be provided with the same test irrespective of your choice, the only difference will be on the result timings, the result for the Computer-delivered test will be ready within 3-5 days while it will take 13 days if you choose the Paper-based test.
What is the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General?
The difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General is found in IELTS Reading and IELTS Writing tests. For the rest of the tests: IELTS Listening and IELTS Speaking are the same for both test-takers. Further differences will be discussed later in this very article.
What is in the IELTS test?
There are 4 four skills you need to present in your IELTS test; IELTS Listening, IELTS Reading, IELTS Writing, and IELTS Speaking. All the test takers, both Academic and General will have the same Listening and Speaking test but different Reading and Writing test.
IELTS Listening will be the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General and will be conducted in 30 minutes. In the test, you will hear recordings of 4 native English speakers and then you will write your answers to the questions.
- The first recording will be a conversation between two people set in an everyday context.
- The second recording will be a monologue set in an everyday social situation.
- The third recording will be a conversation between a group of people having up to four people set in an educational or training environment.
- The fourth recording will be a monologue on an academic subject.
There will be 40 questions with question types like multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labeling form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, and sentence completion. Each question is worth one mark and the answers initially should be written on the question paper as they listen. In the end, 10 minutes are given to transfer the answers to the answer sheet. Poor spelling and grammar are penalized.
For More: IELTS Listening
IELTS Reading part of the test contains 40 questions that are designed to test the test taker’s reading skills including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical arguments, and recognizing writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.
IELTS Reading test will be conducted in 60 minutes where the test taker must answer a variety of question types which might include multiple-choice, identifying information, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching information, headings, features, sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion and short-answer questions.
Every question will be worth 1 mark. A test taker will be reading some passages in each section for their reading test and answering the given task type for each section.
For More: IELTS Reading
|IELTS Academic Reading||IELTS General Reading|
|The academic reading test will consist of three sections; one section will have a short article while the rest two will have longer articles. These articles are analytical, discursive, descriptive, and factual.||The general test consists of three sections as well. The first section will have a short article with up to three short texts, the section will have two texts and the last section will have one long text.|
|The texts are extracted from books, newspapers, research papers, journals, and magazines that were written for non-specialist audiences. All the topics are of general interest but they are closely related to academic subjects.||The texts in the sections here are related to general interest like the first section will be related to everyday life, the second section will be related to work or professional training, and the third section will be a long text of general interest.|
|The language is comparatively difficult and the texts are written in a variety of styles.
At least one of the texts contains detailed logical argumentation. If the text contains technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided.
|The language here is relatively simple as the texts are from ads and brochures which are easier to understand.
There is almost no glossary provided as the vocabulary used is simple and easily understandable.
As discussed before IELTS Writing tests for IELTS Academic and IELTS General are different. The IELTS Writing test will be held for 60 minutes. The number of questions will be the same, nevertheless, test-takers will have different types of questions.
- Task 1 for both test types must contain 150 words and task 2 must contain 250 words.
- Test takers are expected to complete task 1 in 20 minutes and task 2 in 40 minutes. The time can be managed as per the test-takers, but it is to take in mind that spending more time in task 1 will only result in less time in task 2 which might create a bigger problem for dealing with the longer task.
- The answers must be relevant to the provided task and must be written in full connected text in the answer booklet. It is discouraged to write the answer in the form of bullets or note forms.
- The test-takers will be penalized for plagiarism, so the test takers need to write in their own words.
|IELTS Academic Writing||IELTS General Writing|
|Task 1– The task will ask you to describe and explain data, describe the stages of the process, how something works, or describe an object or event of the presented diagram, graph, chart, or table in your own words.
Task 1 expects you to point out the most important and relevant points of the presented graph, table, chart, or diagram. The minor details from the task can be left out.
|Task 1– The task is to respond to a situation by writing a letter that requests information or explains the situation.
Task 1 expects you to write about common, day-to-day problems. A list of points will be given for the letter which is to be addressed while writing the answer by the test taker. Attention should be given to opening lines, closing statements, and the paragraphs of the letter. Also, close attention should be given to the style and tone of the letter depending on whom it is being written to.
|All the answers are expected to be written in a formal style.||The letter may be personal, semi-formal, or formal in style however, the essay can be written in a fairly personal style.|
|In task 2 for both Academic and General Writing, the test takers should write an essay for the given point of view, argument, or problems. Then, the test takers are given the task to provide opinions, discussions, advantages, and disadvantages, or solutions. The answers should be written clearly with supporting pieces of evidence, if possible, the answer should include the test taker’s own experiences where relevant.|
|Task 2- This task will ask you to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem related to an academic issue.
In Task 2, the essay topic will be more inclined to academic issues specific to academic knowledge. The question will give you hints to tackle the topics but will include a wide range of topics like obesity, nuclear weapons, space exploration, etc.
|Task 2- This task will ask you to write an essay in response to an argument, point of view, or problem of general interest.
In Task 2, the essay topic will be more common and easier compared to IELTS Academic. The topics will include topics like family, society, social issues, schools, etc.
For More: IELTS Writing
IELTS Speaking test will be conducted in 11-14 minutes and this test will evaluate your spoken English. Every part of the IELTS Speaking test is recorded.
- In the first part, the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a few other questions about familiar topics like your home, family, work, studies, and interests. This part of the test will take about 4-5 minutes.
- In the second part, a card will be given to you with a particular topic. You will be given one minute to prepare for the given topic before speaking for up to two minutes about it. The test takers are provided with a pencil and paper for making notes during their preparation time. After you speak, the examiner will one or two questions about it. This part lasts about 3-4 minutes including the time for preparation.
- In the third part, the examiner and the test takers discuss the issues related to the topic in part 2 in greater depth. This part of the test will take about 4-5 minutes.
There is no specification to the number of questions asked, the question might be asked depending on the examiner to test all the qualities for marking criteria.
For More: IELTS Speaking
What is IELTS Band Score?
A test taker’s English language proficiency is measured with IELTS band scores, IELTS test results are given in the form of 9-band scores. These scores are given for each part which is reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The same band score you receive for each test will be given as the overall band score for the final result. The overall band score of all the test sections is given as whole or half band scores by rounding up the score to the nearest half or whole band score.
What is the overall band score?
To simplify, an overall band score is the average of all four test scores which is rounded to the nearest whole or half band.
How are the Band Scores Calculated?
For IELTS Listening:
IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions where every correct answer receives a mark. You do not lose a score for a wrong answer. Now the total score out of 40, which is also termed Raw Score is converted into IELTS band Score.
Here is a general scoring chart to indicate the average number of marks required to obtain a particular band score in Listening.
|Raw Scores||Band Scores|
For IELTS Reading:
IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions where every correct answer receives a mark. You do not lose a score for a wrong answer. Now the total score out of 40 is converted into IELTS band Score.
Scoring for IELTS Academic is a bit different from than IELTS General reading test. There is a difference in genre or text type between the two tests. The academic Reading text has more difficult vocabulary or complex style text compared to the General Reading test. So, it is given that a greater number of correct answers will be needed on a General Training Reading test to secure a given band score.
Here is a general scoring chart to indicate the average number of marks required to obtain a particular band score in Reading.
IELTS Academic Reading:
|Raw Scores||Band Scores|
IELTS General Reading:
|Raw Scores||Band Scores|
For IELTS Writing:
The examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria, the criteria are further explained by the following chart:
|Task Achievement (Task 1)||Presenting accurate information
Providing an overview
Highlighting Key features/ stages
Supporting detail with data
|Task Response (Task 2)||Addressing the task (answering the questions)
Giving relevant main points which are supported and developed to the writing task
Giving a clear position (stating an opinion when asked) in the writing task
Providing a conclusion
|Coherence and Cohesion||Organizing information/ ideas into paragraphs
Having one central idea in each paragraph (in Task 2)
Using a range of linking devices
|Lexical Resource||Using a range of words and paraphrasing
|Grammar Range & Accuracy||Using a range of sentences structures
Using a range of grammar tenses
Detailed score band description for IELTS Writing is given here:
For IELTS Speaking:
The examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria, the criteria are further explained by the following chart:
|Fluency||Talking at length
Talking without pauses or hesitations
Talking without self-correction
Able to be understood
|Lexical Resource||Using a range of words and paraphrasing
Using a less common vocabulary
|Grammar Range & Accuracy||Using a range of sentence structures
Using a range of grammar tenses
|Pronunciation||Able to understand throughout the test
Able to use intonation
Accents do not affect understanding
Accurate word and sound pronunciation
Detailed score band description for IELTS Speaking is given here:
Here is a chart to make you show how the overall band score is calculated;
|Listening Score||Reading Score||Writing Score||Speaking Score||Average of all||Overall Band Score|
|Test taker A||7.5||7.5||6.0||8.0||7.25||7.5|
|Test taker B||5.0||4.5||5.0||5.0||4.875||5.0|
|Test taker C||5.5||5.5||6.5||7.0||6.125||6.0|
All the band score of each part is added and divided by 4 for the average band score. If the average of the four tests ends in .25, the overall band score is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, the overall band score is rounded up to the nearest whole band. The score is rounded depending on where the nearest whole or half band is.
Thus, the test taker A’s average rounded up to 7.5, B’s average rounded up to 5.0, and C’s average rounded down to 6.0.
What does your Band Score mean?
Each band score given to the test taker has a different meaning. Every band score hints at the language proficiency of each test-taker. View the table below for a detailed explanation,
|Band score||Skill Level||Description|
|9||Expert User||This IELTS test taker has the ability to fully effective command of the English language. They have an appropriate, accurate, fluent, and complete understanding of the Language.|
|8||Very Good User||This IELTS test taker has the ability to fully effective command of the language with only rare faults and inappropriate usage. The person may misunderstand unfamiliar context but they are competent to handle complex and detailed argumentation well.|
|7||Good User||This IELTS test taker has the ability to effectively command of the English language. The person might have rare faults, inappropriate usage, and errors if they are met with unfamiliar circumstances, but they generally can handle complex language and can understand comprehensive reasoning.|
|6||Competent User||This IELTS test taker has the ability for useful command of the English language, although they might face some faults, inappropriate usage, and errors. The test taker can use and understand relatively complex language, especially in familiar circumstances.|
|5||Modest User||This IELTS test taker has a limited command of the English language but they can manage to understand the general meaning in most circumstances, although they are much more likely to make mistakes. They are capable of handling basic communication in their field.|
|4||Limited User||This IELTS test taker has a basic ability to understand the English language but it is partial to familiar circumstances. The test taker frequently shows difficulties in understanding and expression and is not able to use complex language.|
|3||Extremely Limited User||This IELTS test taker can only convey and understand the overall meaning in very familiar circumstances. They face regular disruptions in communication.|
|2||Intermittent User||This IELTS test taker has much trouble understanding spoken and written English.|
|1||Non-User||This IELTS test taker cannot use the English language except for a few singular words.|
When and how will you get your IELTS result?
How and when you receive the IELTS depends on the test type and format. You can get your test results directly from your test centers or can be viewed through the official website. If you have booked a test with British Council then, the result will be available through an email notification with a link to view your IELTS scores. You can also easily log into either of the official website British Council or IELTS IDP and view your results.
If you have taken a Paper-based IELTS test, then your results and your Test Repost Form (TRF) will be available after 13 days from the test date.
If you have taken a Computer-delivered test then, you can view your results 4-5 days after your test date.
If you gave a test for IELTS Academic for UKVI or the IELTS General Training for UKVI, then the test results will be available 13 days after you complete the test.
If you had taken the IELTS Life Skills for UKVI A1, A2, or B1 tests, then you can expect the results 7 days after your IELTS test date.
If you still haven’t received any notification regarding the results after the prescribed date, you can keep in contact with your test center.
What countries require an IELTS score?
All native English-speaking countries like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, and Canada require an IELTS score. However, more than 140 countries like Spain, France, Singapore, etc. accept IELTS scores for university admissions.
What IELTS band score is considered adequate?
There is no such marker as an adequate band score. The minimum band score will just depend on what type of visa you need; work, student, business, migrant, etc. The adequacy will also depend on what institution you are applying for. For example, a student usually needs a 6-band score for university admission but as some universities set their admission requirement themselves, they might set 6.5 or 7 as their acceptable band score. The visa applicant must consult with their targeted institution for the adequate IELTS band score they accept.
Can a test taker be failed?
An IELTS test taker cannot be failed as there is no pass or fail in IELTS. An IELTS test is graded in 9 band system, the acquired bands determine the test taker’s level of English proficiency.
Where can one give IELTS test? When can one give the IELTS test?
IELTS test in Nepal is conducted either by British Council or IDP. The willing test-takers can simply go to the official IELTS website or the nearest British Council or IDP branch to choose the nearest IELTS center and their preferred dates.
How long is an IELTS score valid for?
IELTS score is valid for 2 years from the time you receive your test results.
How often can you take IELTS tests?
You can take the IELTS test as often as you want. It is better and cost-efficient if you take the test once being fully prepared but there is no restriction or limitation to taking the IELTS test. So, one can take the IELTS test as frequently as they want and use their preferred score.
Can you request a re-mark?
Yes, if you are not satisfied with the results achieved, you can ask for a review and re-marking through a service called “Enquiry on Results” (EOR). You can ask for this service by contacting where you took your IELTS test.
If you request this service, get to choose which part of the test you want to be reviewed. Your test will be remarked by a senior Examiner unaware of your original band score. If there are changes in your scores, the test center will deliver a new Test Report Form (TRF).
There is a fee for requesting a re-mark, but the cost fee will be refunded if the band score changes.
When can you request a re-mark?
Re-mark requests should be sent within 6 weeks of the IELTS test date on the Test Report Form. The reviewed results will be available within 2 to 21 days of applying for remark depending upon how many parts of the test you want to be reviewed.
How much does an IELTS test cost?
In Nepal, around Rs 23,650 to Rs 25,300 is spent on an IELTS test. It can cost more or less of the given amount depending on what test you choose.
According to the official website, the paper-based IELTS test will cost NRS 25,300, the computer-delivered IELTS test will cost NPR 23,650, the UKVI IELTS test will cost NPR 28,000, and the UKVI Life Skills test will cost NPR 19,600. This fee has been effective since 1st February 2022.
How to book an IELTS test?
When booking a test, make sure you have valid identification and your passport. The same passport should be presented on the test day. The passport will not be accepted if the presented passport is different, invalid, or expired. If the test taker is under 18, their parents should fill out the ‘Parents’ consent for candidates under 18 form.
Here is how you can book an IELTS test through the official website:
Pick your preferred center available. You can choose the nearest test center
Then you can choose how you want to give your test, either on paper or on a computer.
On this page, you get to choose the test you would take. Choose from the option according to your requirements.
On this page, you can make changes as per your preferences, after fitting them to your choices you can proceed.
This webpage gives you date options, browse the options and choose the date when you feel comfortable.
How to pay for the IELTS test?
British Council and IDP provide the IELTS test in Nepal, so it is necessary to confirm your test center and to whom you are making the payment. If you are making taking the test through British Council, then you should make the payment to the British Council Nepal from either Nabil Bank or Standard Charter Bank. You can even make payment directly in the British Council Office. Further description of the deposit slip is provided on the British Council website.
However, if you are taking your test from IDP Nepal, then you can make your payment through Nepal Investment Bank, Standard Charter Bank, and Nabil bank to IDP Nepal. Payment can also be made with a debit/credit card in IDP Education Nepal directly. More details about account numbers and other methods are provided on the official website.
How to prepare for IELTS?
Everyone has their own way to prepare for IELTS but here are some common ways all the students prepare for the test:
- Get familiar with the test format of IELTS. Understand the test content, the rules, the task types, and how to tackle each test.
- Practice the Sample test question, and develop your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
- Join a preparation course for IELTS.
If you are new to what IELTS is, and still not sure how to prepare for your test it is always better for you to choose a preparation course. In Nepal, many educational institutions and consultancies provide a detailed IELTS preparation course to get you fully prepared for the test. A preparation course will pre- provide you with practice materials, a large variety of sample questions and will guide you through the test format. Most importantly the preparation course usually comes with a package of mock tests which will give you an actual test-like experience and will help you with your progress checking with a teacher guiding you through your mistakes and ways for improvements.
Can you prepare for IELTS for free?
Yes, you can. There are enough materials on the internet to help you understand the test. There are apps, websites, and hundreds of YouTube videos guiding you with the course. You can take free tests and practice sample questions there. These free courses are provided by both British Council and IDP Nepal.
If you have already taken an IELTS preparation course before, the sample questions, free tests, and a few guidelines might be enough for you to revoke sufficient knowledge about the IELTS course, format, test type, markings, and key points. You can also sign up for free IELTS preparation Webinars and study packs. But if you still don’t feel confident about performing well in your test, do consider a preparation course.
Dos and Don’ts in the IELTS
- Do read the questions carefully before the test starts.
- Do fill out the answers on the question paper while you listen.
- Do answer all the questions, there is no penalty for wrong answers.
- Do use all Capital letters for your answers, if you have to
- If you are giving paper-based IELTS, do use the 10 minutes to transfer all the answers to the answer sheet.
- Don’t try to understand every word, focus on listening for answers.
- Don’t get flustered if you miss an answer, the recording is only played once, so quickly move on to the next question.
- Don’t forget to check the grammar and spelling in your answers.
- Do plan your time, try to spend only 15 mins for each passage.
- Do answer all the questions in the test.
- Do highlight the words keywords that might help you locate your answers.
- Do check the spelling and grammar of your answers.
- Don’t spend too much time on one question, skip it and come back later.
- Don’t try to understand the whole passage, the goal is to find answers.
- Don’t expect extra time to transfer answers, write your answer as you go.
- Do plan your essay, no extra paper is given for planning so do it on the question paper.
- Do make your paragraph clearly separated.
- Do write more words than the set limit for both the task, you will lose points if you write less than the word count.
- Do have a clear topic sentence.
- Don’t try to count all the words, try to estimate the words by the number of words you write in a line and count the lines instead.
- Don’t spend more than 20 minutes on Task 1, Task 2 needs more time; it carries more marks.
- Don’t forget to check the spelling, grammar, and punctuation while writing. You can use either British or American spellings in the test.
- Don’t write your answers in bullets, the target is to write paragraphs.
- Don’t repeat the same words excessively.
- Do use fillers like let me see, well, good question, etc. it will give you time to collect your thoughts and will show that you can keep the conversation going.
- Do use the preparation time even if you are familiar with the topic.
- Do refer to your question cards and your notes, you won’t lose a point if you do so.
- Do ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question the examiner asks.
- Don’t give short or pre-prepared answers, the test checks your fluency.
- Don’t go back to check your grammar too many times, it affects your fluency.
- Don’t worry if you don’t know much about the topic, be creative with your answer, your answer won’t be fact-checked.
- Don’t get stuck trying to remember the word, paraphrase it.
We hope this Gurubaa blog will help you through all the aspects of IELTS, from understanding what IELTS is to how to excel in the tests. If you have queries feel free to comment and feel free to contact Gurubaa if you want more information regarding IELTS.