What is IELTS? Learn about IELTS

What is IELTS?

Learn more about the most trusted form of English
language testing for international students in the world.

IELTS Preparation Centre

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System is a test of English language proficiency and one of the world’s most popular and respected forms of English in education and migration.

Intended for non-native speakers who are looking to study or work in an English-speaking environment, IELTS training is an internationally recognised system for testing English language ability in four categories:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Since its introduction in 1989, IELTS preparation has become one of the most trusted forms of English-language assessment and is accepted by over 8,000 universities, employers and immigration organisations worldwide. IELTS testing methods focus on the candidate’s practical ability to use English in real-life situations. There are two different types of IELTS test:

  • Academic IELTS is for international students who wish to study at a UK university or join an institute of higher education.
  • General IELTS classes focus on English survival skills and social and workplace language, ideal for those who are planning to migrate to English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Once graded, your IELTS score is valid for two years.

IELTS 9-Band Scale

Students will be given a score of 1-9 for each part of the test. Your average score produces an overall IELTS band score, and you can be graded on whole or half points.

ScoreSkillSkill Overview
Band 9 Expert user Fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
Band 8 Very good user Fully operational command of the language with only occasional inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good user 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 Generally 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 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 Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely limited user Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
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. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 Non-user Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test No assessable information provided. Did not take the test.

IELTS FAQ

Answers to common questions about IELTS preparation and the IELTS exam.

IELTS stands for “International English Language Testing System” and is an exam to judge English language ability. It is accepted by institutes of higher education and immigration authorities in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Universities in the UK will not be able to issue you a final offer without a valid IELTS score.

Over 10,000 organisations worldwide, including educational institutions, employers, governments, immigration authorities and professional bodies, accept IELTS.

The test has four parts; listening, reading, writing and speaking and lasts three hours. Listening takes place first and lasts 40 minutes, then reading and writing (one hour each) and speaking which last up to 15 minutes.

There are two versions of IELTS, General and Academic. If applying to a university, a student will need to take Academic lessons. If only taking IELTS for a citizenship application or to study at below degree level, the General test is suitable. If you are unsure, academic covers both study and immigration needs. The format for both exams is the same, with the reading and writing elements slightly easier in the General test.

For an undergraduate degree, a minimum IELTS score of 6 is generally required, while at postgraduate level, this rises to 6.5. For specialist courses such as medicine, students will need a score of 7.0. Each university and course is different though, so research what is needed before applying.

When you should take the exam and how long you need to prepare depends on your current ability. It is advisable however that you begin preparation lessons two months before your exam date. To learn your current IELTS score, take a practice test.

In the UK, IELTS exams are held every Saturday throughout the year, and can be booked as late as a week before the intended exam date. It is advisable to book well in advance though as spaces fill up quickly, especially during July and August.

You can take a practice test at our Language Centre’s in London and Manchester. The test will last 90 minutes and covers all four parts of the IELTS exam. You will receive your results within 48 hours.

This depends on your current level and the score you wish to achieve. To improve your IELTS score by 1 point, the average student will need to take ten lessons at SI-UK’s Language Centre, as well as complete homework assignments.

You will receive your results two weeks after you take the exam.

Your IELTS score is valid for two years after your test.

Even if your English is of a high level, you will still need a score which can only be achieved by taking the IELTS exam. The writing part of the exam in particular has very specific requirements for students to meet and learning specific strategies and techniques with teachers will help you reach your goals.

All of our teachers are highly qualified native English speakers with 25 years experience teaching English to international students.

Yes. One of the key differences at SI-UK compared to other language schools is our small class sizes; a maximum of four students in Manchester and nine in London.

SI-UK provide a flexible timetable to students wishing to study IELTS. We are open six days per week, and students can select their own schedule.

Each week you will be sent a weekly plan with an outline of the topics covered in the lessons to help you decide when to attend. For example, if you specifically want to practice academic writing you can attending a designated writing class on Tuesday or Friday.

SI-UK offer a wide variety of lessons for students of all levels and ability, including:

Each week you will be sent a weekly plan with an outline of the topics covered in the lessons to help you decide when to attend. For example, if you specifically want to practice academic writing you can attending a designated writing class on Tuesday or Friday.

IELTS for UKVI is the requirement for visa and study for international students to study at a course at a particular level of the programme. The content and formats are the same as normal IELTS Academic is the same as normal IELTS, the only difference is that UKVI is a bit more expensive and must be taken in a specific UKVI test centre, which offer only limited exam timetable. To check which exam you should take, contact your counsellor today.

Study IELTS in London and Manchester

If you are interested in studying IELTS preparation classes in London, get in touch today for further information.

Contact SI-UK and begin your path towards hitting your target IELTS score!

The IELTS class is a very effective way of preparing yourself for the IELTS test. I learned to use my English in new ways.
Louise Karlsson
Sweden

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