Everything about IELTS
Everything you need to know about IELTS!

           Every IELTS aspirant asks the following questions. These questions and their answers will provide you with ample information about IELTS. You can also find more information and related articles on our website.

1. Where can I take IELTS?

The network of IELTS test centres managed by IDP: IELTS Australia and British Council offers you more than 1600 test locations in 140 countries. In India, there are 78 test centres across the country. In the case of Kerala, there are 12 centres which facilitate IELTS exams.

2. How much does it cost?

IELTS test fees vary from country to country. You can collect information regarding the test fees for your country in your local currency from IDP education's official website or you can contact your nearest test centre. The IELTS test fee is same for both versions of the test (Academic and General Training) but, its different for different test types. For example, the regular Pen and Paper Based Test and Computer delivered IELTS in India costs 15500 now, whereas the current test fees for UKVI IELTS and IELTS Life skills (A1 & B1) are 15,750 and 14,600 respectively.

3. How do I book/register for the test?

IELTS test is available on 48 fixed dates per year (up to four times a month), depending on local demand. The candidates have the liberty of choosing the exam on any of the 48 days in as per their convenience and requirement of the result. Apart from this, candidates can also reattempt the exam whenever they want. Also, there is no limit for giving the IELTS test; candidates can give the IELTS exam as many times as they want or till they reach their dream score. However, every time the candidate has to write all the four modules and pay the exam fee of Rs. 15,500 for each test.

Most of the aspirants manage to book a test date by themselves and with the help of their coaching centres. Steps to register for the IELTS exam

Step 1: Visit the official IELTS India website.

Step 2: Go to 'Register for Test' option.

Step 3: Select your preferred test, Test type, and available Test Date in the city.

Step 4: Give your personal details.

Step 5: Give your registration details.

Step 6: Upload copies of your Passport. Passport should be scanned in 2 different pages with no more than 1Mb size as jpg or Pdf.

Step 7: Select the list of colleges where you want to send your Score Report. This step can be skipped of you don't intent to share any copy of the TRF (Test report form) to any colleges.

Step 8: Review your details one last time before making payment.

Step 9: Pay the test fee. This can be done using Debit/Credit cards, Net Banking and UPI.

Step 10: Once the payment has been made. Candidates can take a printout of the acknowledgment receipt.

After online registration, you will receive an acknowledgment on the registered email/phone number. For paper-based IELTS you can book a slot online as per your preferred date and time. In here, you can only choose the written test date of the examination. Speaking date and time slots will be allotted on a later date before the examination.

Other methods to register for the IELTS Exam

Online – You need to go to the IDP IELTS registration page and create an online profile. Then you will be required to pay the exam fee.Through the online method, you can register anytime and on any day. You will be required to pay with a credit/debit card. IDP IELTS registration is the fastest and easiest method to book an IELTS slot.

In-person – You can register in person at the IDP India office. You may download the online form or fill in a paper application at the office. You will be required to pay the fee through credit card/debit card, demand draft, or ICICI bank deposit slip. You will receive an instant confirmation of your reservation.

04. What if I need to postpone or cancel my IELTS test?

For postponing or cancelling the IELTS exam, you should contact the test centre where you booked your IELTS test. If you postpone or cancel your application more than 5 weeks before the test date, you will receive a refund minus an administration charge. If you postpone or cancel within 5 weeks of the test date, you will be charged the full fee unless you have a medical reason. If you are unable to attend the test on the test date due to a serious medical condition and you produce a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost. If you are delayed by circumstances beyond your control (a transportation strike, a calamity) the test centre may offer you a test on the next available test date.

5. Do I take all parts of the test on the same day? Will there be any breaks in between?

The IELTS test is conducted on two different dates.

The Listening, Reading and writing modules of the test are grouped to be in the written test part and speaking module is separated and will be conducted on a different date than the written test day. The written components of the test are always completed immediately after each other and with no break. You will take the speaking test up to 7 days either before or after the test date, depending on the test centre. You will have to attend the Listening module first followed by the reading and writing modules of the test.

6. What are the test rules?

Test rules and guidelines can be found on the Notice to Candidates provided in the IELTS Application Form. You are also advised to read the Information for Candidates booklet carefully so that you understand the test format and know what to expect on test day. IDP Education offers practical advice for test day on www.ieltsessentials.com.

7. What can I take into the examination room?

The facilitators of the test do provide all the required stationary for the test. However, you can take your own pens, pencils and erasers to the examination room. You must bring the passport/national identity card you used on the IELTS Application Form to the test. You must leave everything else outside the examination room. Mobile phones and pagers must be switched off and placed with personal belongings in the area designated by the supervisor. If you do not switch off your phone/pager or if you keep it with you, you will be disqualified. You are not allowed to take your wrist watch with you. The examination room will have sufficient arrangement for time management during the test.

8. What is the Speaking test?

The Speaking test will assess the test takers based on their expertise in spoken English. The test will be a one to one interview with an examiner, with 11 to 14 minutes duration where you will discuss a variety of topics.  Your test will take place in a quiet room with an examiner who will encourage you to keep speaking.  The speaking test will be recorded for future references. Unlike a computerised test, an IELTS examiner will be able to make you comfortable with the test. They will also able to understand your accent to ensure you get the best possible score.  The speaking test of IELTS has three parts.

Part 1: The examiner will be asking you some general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part of the speaking test will be for 4 to 5 minutes.

 Part 2: You will be given a cue card with a main topic and a few sub questions and the examiner will ask you to talk about that topic. You will have 1 minute to prepare on the topic and after that you will have to speak up to 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.  

Part 3: There will be a follow up discussion in this part of the test. You will be answering further questions related to the given topic in part 02 of the test. These questions will give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas, opinions, suggestions and issues. This part of the test lasts for 4 to 5 minutes.

Part 1: Introduction and questions on familiar topics

4 to 5 minutes 

This part of the test will be beginning with the examiner asking you about your name and to show your identification (passport). Next, he /she will be asking you some general questions about your profession, studies and interests. You will then be asked some questions about a range of familiar topics, for example, about music, cooking, the weather, or movies you prefer. There would be questions from two or three of such topics. The examiner will be asking scripted questions and will listen to your answer, encouraging you to extend your response with a “why?” or “why not?” if your answer is too short.  This part of the test follows a continuing series of question-answer format focusing on your ability to communicate opinions and information on common topics by answering a range of questions. 

Part 2: Individual long turn

3 to 4 minutes 

After Part 1, the examiner will give you a topic and will ask you to talk about it for up to two minutes. The topic will be given to you on a card and you will also be given a piece of paper and a pencil to make notes. On the cue card, there will be a major question to speak about and some points you can use to develop your talk relating to this. You will have exactly one minute to prepare and make notes before you start your speaking. The examiner will use at timer to keep the time and will let you know when your time is up.  The points on the task card will help you to organise what to say and you should try to expand your speech to the whole 2 minutes duration. There might be one or two questions about what you have said in your presentation before moving to the next part. This part of the test assesses your ability to speak at length on a particular topic, using appropriate language and organising your ideas in a logical way. 

Part 3: Two-way discussion

4 to 5 minutes 

The questions in this part of the test will be the follow up of the previous part. You ought to discuss the given topic in more detailed way demonstrating that you are able to express and justify your opinions and suggestions, discuss and speculate the topic in a meticulous way. In Part 3 of your IELTS speaking , you will be assessed on your ability to demonstrate your flexibility to discuss , argue  and speculate on the range of issues connected to the general topic which you spoke about in the part 02 of the test.

9. What do I need for the Speaking test?

You must bring the original of the same passport/national identity card you supplied on your IELTS exam registration and continue to use the same identity documents for the written part of the test as well. Your identity will be checked before you enter the interview room. You will be getting en email regarding your admission in the examination room with two boxes. You are also instructed to take printouts of the same for your speaking test.

10. What kinds of accents can be heard in the Listening and Speaking tests?

As IELTS is an international test, a variety of English accents is used in both of these tests. For speaking, you can use any accent as it is an international exam. For listening part of the test, you can expect a variety of native English accents such as British English, North American English, Australian, New Zealand, and South African English. Before taking IELTS, make sure you are comfortable listening to these different varieties.

11. Can I write in capital letters?

Yes, you can use all capital letters in the IELTS Reading and Listening components and also in the Writing component. The IELTS test is only demanding the candidates’ writing to be legible. Hence, the best way to avoid unintended spelling errors due to illegible handwriting is to write in capital letters, especially for Reading and Listening module.

12. How are the tests marked?

IELTS band scores are reported on a 9-band scale ranging from band 1 to band 9 in order to ensure consistency. Each part of the test is given a band score for the candidate’s performance. The receptive modules of the test that is Listening and Reading are marked in a different way to the productive modules that is Speaking and Writing tests.

In the Listening and Reading test parts, each has 40 questions and each correct answer receives 1 mark. The total score out of 40 is converted to the IELTS 9-band scale.
IELTS Speaking is evaluated by certified IELTS examiners in a face-to-face interview. For this they use a set of assessment criteria to give band scores for each part of the criteria which are fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range & accuracy and pronunciation.
IELTS Writing are evaluated in the same way as Speaking module with the examiner awarding band scores for each of the four criteria that best match the performance of the candidate at each band level for Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2.

Understanding the assessment criteria in detail will help you understand the IELTS scoring patterns, prepare for your test and understand how to better approach each test section.

Band score descriptors

Overall band scores

  • Band 9 - Expert user
    The candidate has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

  • Band 8 - Very good user
    The candidate has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. And the candidate handles complex detailed argumentation well.

  • Band 7 - Good user
    The candidate has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

  • Band 6 - Competent user
    The candidate generally has effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

  • Band 5 - Modest user
    The candidate has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

  • Band 4 - Limited user
    The candidate’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. He/She has frequent problems in understanding and expression. And the candidate is not able to use complex language.

  • Band 3 - Extremely limited user

  • Candidate conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.

  • Band 2 - Intermittent user
    No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. The candidate has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

  • Band 1 - Non-user
    The candidate essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

  • Band 0 - Did not attempt test

No assessable information provided.

13. Can I make notes on the Listening and Reading question papers?

Yes you can. You are instructed to use pencils to write the IELTS exam. The examiners who are marking your answers to the Listening and Reading questions will not see your question paper. Hence here is nothing wrong about making notes on the Listening and Reading question papers.

14. Do I have to write in pencil? (Paper-based IELTS only)

Using a pencil is recommended for the IELTS Listening and Reading part of the test. In many test centres, we now also require the Writing test to be completed using pencil. This is because gradually, all of the test centres are upgrading to new scanners. These particular scanners work best with a pencil as there is no risk of your answers smudging which is obvious when you use pen/ink. These test centres are also using answer sheets with a slightly updated design.

However, there have been no changes made to the test format, content, or marking standards. This is simply an operational change. It is notable that even if you forget to carry a pencil to the examination hall, the test centre staff will provide you with the essential stationary such as pencil, eraser, and a sharpener if required.

15. Who sets the 'pass mark' for the IELTS test?

Many have confusion that whether there is any pass mark for IELTS. But the fact is that, there is no pass or fail in IELTS. Scores are graded on the 9-band system. Each educational institution or organisation sets its own minimum IELTS scores to meet its individual requirements.

16. When will I receive my test results?

Results of your IELTS examination which is known as Test Report Form (TRF) will be published differently for Computer delivered IELTS and Pen and Paper based IELTS. Your Computer delivered test result will be available to you 3-5 calendar days after your test date. Whereas, your Pen and paper based test result will be available only after 13 calendar days after your test date. You will only receive one copy of your Test Report Form, unless you are applying to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), or the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA).  In this situation, you can receive two. Proof of application to CIC and UKBA must be provided. TRF will be available for download in the candidate’s login portal. You can also download the previous TRFs to a certain period if you have given a test after attending one.

17. How many test report forms (TRFs) am I entitled to?

You will only receive one copy of your Test Report Form, unless you are applying to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), or the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) – in this case, you can receive two. Proof of application to CIC and UKBA must be provided. Up to five copies of your TRF will be posted to the relevant institution(s) you have listed on your IELTS application form. Regular postage is free of charge. Charges for courier services and/or overseas postage will be passed onto you. Additional TRFs beyond these five can be requested from the test centre which issued the results. Please note, an administration fee may be charged for additional TRFs. If you have lost your TRF, please contact the test centre which issued your results.

18. How can I order more Test Report Forms if my test centre has closed since I took the test?

If the test centre where your test was taken has closed we can still send a copy of your Test Report Form to organisations for two years after your test. Check our list for contact details. To request a Test Report Form you will need to complete an Additional TRF application form. Ask your test centre for details. It is very important that you complete your family and given names exactly as they appear on your identification document. Submit the form by clicking the Submit button at the end of the form. Include a scanned copy of the passport or identification document that you used when you sat the test (this is done after you click the submit button on the Additional TRF application form). Test Report Forms can only be sent to institutions and organisations. Additional copies will not be sent to students, their families or friends. There is no charge for this service.

19. How soon can I re-sit the test?

There are no constraints on the number of times you sit for the test. However, we strongly recommend you do additional preparation before taking the test again. If you are planning to take the test once again for any of your lost modules, you have to attend all the modules of the test as such. So, proper preparation for all four modules is suggested if you are planning re-sit the examination.

20. What if I am not happy with my result?

If you are not happy with your IELTS test results and believe that your performance deserves better scores than what you received, you can apply for a revaluation, known as an Enquiry on Results (EoR). However, you will have to pay an enquiry fee, which will be fully refunded if your bands score changes. Candidates need to submit the EOR form for sending a revaluation request. Test takers will have the option to select the modules they need to revaluate. IELTS rechecking fee in India is INR 11,625 for both Pen and Paper based IELTS and Computer Delivered IELTS and it is INR 11,810 and INR 10,450 for UKVI IELTS and Life skills respectively. Note that IELTS Examiners and markers follow strict assessment guidelines and are regularly monitored. The IELTS testing process has the highest quality control procedures.