IELTS Basics Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

In this lesson we will explain what the IELTS test is and look at frequently asked questions.

What is the IELTS Test?

IELTS stands for ‘International English Language Testing System’. If you want to study at an English-speaking University or live and work in a country whose first language is English, then there is a good chance that you need to do an IELTS test.
IELTS Facts:
 IELTS tests are taken over 2.9 million times each year.
10,000 different organizations (universities, schools, governments and businesses) in 140 countries accept the IELTS test.

Do I need to Do an IELTS test?

For Work

If you want to migrate (move) to the UK, Australia, Canada or New Zealand, then you probably need to take an IELTS General test. Depending on what you want to do in your country of choice, you many need an IELTS score between 4.0 to 7.0.

For more information use the links to the IELTS website below:
IELTS For Migration
IELTS For Work

For Study

If you want to study in the UK, the USA, Australia or Canada, then you probably need to take the IELTS Academic test.
If you want to study at a university in one of these countries, that you will probably be asked for a 7.0 IELTS band score (you need to check with the university that you want to study with about their IELTS requirements).

You can find out more on the IELTS website:
IELTS For Study

What skills are Tested?

For both the Academic and General tests, candidates are tested on the 4 skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

What’s the difference between the General and Academic tests? 


The Listening and Speaking tests are the same for both test types, but the Reading and Writing tests are a little bit different, as outlined below:
In the General Reading test, candidates are asked to read and answer questions about texts that you might see on a daily basis, for example a cooking recipe or a newspaper article.

In the Academic Reading test, the texts are more difficult and usually from an academic source.

The writing test is in two parts; Task 1 and Task 2.

In the General Writing test Task 1 students are asked to write a letter. In Task 2 they must write a short essay.

In the Academic Writing test Task 1 candidates must make a report of a diagram, however Task 2 is the same as Task 2 in the General test, though more formal (academic) language is expected.

How is the IELTS Test Marked?

At the end of the IELTS test you are given a band score between 0 and 9. 


The final band score you receive is an average of the band scores that you get in each skill. 
For example, a student gets a score for each of his tests as shown below:
Listening: 7
Reading: 6.5
Writing: 5
Speaking: 6.5
The average is: 7 + 6.5 + 5 + 6.5 / 4 = 6.25

The final band for this student is the nearest half or whole number = 6.5

I have a test soon. What Should I do to prepare?

The IELTS test is both important and expensive, so it is important that you only do it when you are ready. To prepare, you should familiarize yourself with the test formats of all the skills and with the types of questions that are asked.
It is a good idea to learn tips that help you answer these questions and to practice them in exam (timed) conditions.

We have many free lessons and interactive exercises on our site that help you do this.