International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardized test administered by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, The British council and IDP education private limited. IELTS is developed to test ability of reading, writing, listening and speaking English. There are two formats of this exam: Academic and general training. The test scores of academic version are accepted by several universities in United States and other English speaking countries like Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand for admission to their educational programs. The test scores of general test are normally used for immigration purpose. IELTS is designed without a bias towards any accent or style.
IELTS is looked as a test of English proficiency. Anybody who may be seeking admission to a college or university in United States or other English speaking countries must take the Academic version of this test. Those, who are planning to migrate to United States, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia and other English speaking countries must pass the general training test with acceptable scores.
The test is divided in four sections- listening, reading, writing and speaking. The listening test has four sections with increasing difficulty level. It examines perception of English language and its interpretation. The reading section is based on reading comprehension. The writing section tests expression of ideas in the language. The last test is a spoken English test where a test taker interacts orally with an examiner. The listening and speaking sections are same in both versions of exam. The reading and writing sections of academic version are more difficult in comparison to that in general test.
In the listening test, cassettes of each section are played one by one followed by sets of questions. There are intervals between each play while which the questions are to be answered. The total time, cassettes are played is 30 minutes and a total of 10 minutes are given to transfer answers on OMR sheet. In the reading test, three sections comprising 3 to 5 texts followed by sets of questions are given. The total number of questions is 40, which have to be answered in 60 minutes. In the writing test, two writing tasks are given. In academic version, one of these tasks includes description of a given diagram or figure, while in general version, the test taker has to write a letter. The other writing task is used to be an essay. The written test is allotted 60 minutes of time. The speaking test is divided into three parts. In the first part, a personal interview of the examinee is taken by an examiner. In second part, views on an extempore topic have to be presented. In third part, examiner and examinee discuss on same topic which was given to the examinee in second part. The speaking test is finished in 10 to 15 minutes.
The test score and individual scores of each subtest are scaled on a band of 0 to 9. A candidate is issued a test report form in which IELTS scores are mentioned. These bands cover from expert users (score of 9) to non users (score of 0 or 1). The reasonable score is normally 6. For admission to reputed institutions through IELTS academic test, score must be 7 or above.
There are more than 300 testing centers of IELTS in 120 countries. This test is conducted on 48 test dates in a year. The registration of this test can be done online or by US mail. The contact information of testing centers in each country is available on the official website of IELTS. The testing center can be contacted by phone, mail and fax and inquired.
The exam fee of IELTS is $140 or 90 GBP.