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International English Language Testing System (IELTS) -Complete Details

What is IELTS?

The IELTS is an abbreviation of the International English Language Testing System. Simply put, it is an examination that assesses your English language skills in terms of spoken and written English. If you wish to study or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication, mainly Anglophone countries, you need to assure the university admission officers and visa officers that you are proficient in the language.

The IELTS exam measures your skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking through two test formats, namely IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. While IELTS Academic can be taken up by those who wish to go for higher education or professional registration, IELTS General Training is for those who are looking at migrating to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. For academic and work purposes, the US also accepts the same.

The test has been designed and is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

IELTS Eligibility Criteria

Anyone above the age of 16 years can take the IELTS test. If you wish to study, work or migrate to the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand and study or work in the US, you can take this test.

IELTS Exam Dates in 2018-19

You can take the exam four times a month. On the IELTS website, you have to choose your country and the closest examination centre which is convenient to you along with the kind of exam you’d want to take (choose between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training). You will then see test dates that are available and click apply by filling up the application form. Both IDP and the British Council offer the test on 48 fixed dates a year, running into four times a month. The yearly schedule is available on their website.

Just remember to register one month prior to secure your place on your preferred day at your chosen test centre.

Download the PDF on this page to find out more on IELTS test dates in India for 2018: link.

IELTS Exam Fee

In India, the registration fee for IELTS exam for all tests administered up to 31st March 2018, the fee is INR 12,100 and for those administered after 1st April 2018, it is INR 12,650.

For online registrations, only credit/debit payment is accepted, for in person registrations, you will be required to pay by credit or debit card / DD / ICICI bank deposit slip.

IELTS Exam Pattern and Syllabus

In two hours and 45 minutes, the IELTS will aim to assess your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in English language. As mentioned above, the two types of tests, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training differ in their reading and writing components, while listening and speaking tests are same for both.

You have to take all three listening, reading and writing tests without any break, in that order. Speaking test can be the same day or seven days before or after the exam. You can check this option at your test centre.


You will get 30 minutes to answer a number of questions basis four pre-recorded audio tapes you will hear. There will be conversations related to everyday life and in an educational setting. Two of the recordings will be monologues on an academic subject as well as in social context.

Your answers will give away your understanding of the crux of the conversation and detailed factual information, opinions and attitudes of speakers and your ability to follow how the ideas develop in the process.


Around 15 minutes are dedicated to this section wherein the examiner will speak to you on a wide range of topics as work, family, studies, interests, etc.

You will then be given a topic and one minute to prepare to be able to speak on the topic for two minutes. The examiner will ask you more questions on the same topic.


A 60-minute test, it involves reading long texts taken from a number of sources. For IELTS Academic test takers, the text will be descriptive suitable for those wishing to appear for university courses. As for IELTS General Training, you will get to read extracts related to life in general in English speaking environments.

Based on the above, you will be required to answer 40 questions. The purpose of these tests in both the contexts is to evaluate your reading skills and how well are you able to exactly grasp the logical argument and the writers’ opinion.


For both the tests, the assessors will judge you on the basis of your ability to describe/summarise some text, argument, data, figures, graph, and the like depending on what kind of test you are taking.

You will be required to write the same in formal, semi-formal or informal style, depending on the task at hand in 60 minutes.

IELTS Exam Preparation

Passing any examination smoothly requires at least 80% preparation and the remaining 20% should come from putting the same into action. Once you have understood the format for the kind of test you’d want to take, start skimming through practice tests papers and answers.

You can take up these practice tests by factoring in the time you will be given for taking the actual tests. These are available on the IELTS website where you will also get answers to sample questions given. Separately, you can also buy IELTS self-study books and related material that are available at British Council tests centres and selected book stores across the globe.


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