International Studies: What you need to know about IELTS

The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by the British CouncilIDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English, and was established in 1989. IELTS is one of the major English-language tests in the world.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration.

IELTS – insideoaumedia

Why is IELTS important?

More than 10,000 organisations globally trust IELTS, so when you take the test you can be confident that it is recognised by educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies around the world.

As one of the pioneers of four skills English language testing 30 years ago, IELTS continues to set the standard for English language testing today. Governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom use IELTS to process immigration applications.

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How does IELTS work?

IELTS has been developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts and will test the full range of English skills needed for success in your new job or study placement abroad.

You’ll be assessed on the following elements:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Make sure you’re familiar with how the IELTS test works and find out more about the IELTS test formats.


Choosing the right test

There are two IELTS tests available – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. The test you choose should be based on what it is you want to do.

IELTS Academic – measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment. It reflects aspects of academic language and evaluates whether you’re ready to begin training or studying.

Take this test if you want to: 

  • study at an undergraduate level or postgraduate level anywhere in the world
  • apply for Student Route visa (Tier 4) at a university that is a Student route (Tier 4) Sponsor in the UK
  • work in an English-speaking country for a professional organisation.


IELTS General Training – measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and tests reflect both workplace and social situations.

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If you are taking the IELTS test to support a UK visa application to work, live or study in the UK, you may need to take the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Academic or General Training or the IELTS for Life Skills test.

Take this test if you would like to:

  • study or train below degree level
  • work or undertake work related training in an English-speaking country
  • emigrate to an English-speaking country
  • get another job in your own country.

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