Understanding what IELTS is all about - an introduction

Do you want to work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language? If so, you will need to take the IELTS exam, a globally recognised test that proves your English level to overseas institutions. But what is it exactly, and how can it help you? This article discusses all of these and everything you need to know about the test. Read on.

What is the IELTS Test?

IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It is designed to assess your English proficiency. It has four sections – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total time for the test is two hours and 45 minutes. The Speaking section is conducted face-to-face with a trained IELTS Examiner. All other parts of the exam are completed in the presence of an invigilator in a silent testing room.

How was It Developed?

The exam was designed to provide an accurate and fair assessment of English language proficiency with questions developed by language specialists from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It is a thorough test with content that reflects everyday situations. Moreover, it is unbiased and designed to test individuals from all backgrounds.

IELTS Exam Types

IELTS Academic

This exam version is intended for those who want to study at an English-speaking university. However, you can also take this exam for professional purposes.

As it features vocabulary within an academic setting, the exam's purpose is to measure whether you are ready to begin studying in English.

You can take this exam face-to-face on paper or using a computer. Candidates usually take the test at an approved IELTS test centre, but from 2022 people in certain countries will have the option to take the test online at home.

IELTS General Training

This IELTS English test is intended for those applying to study below degree level in an English-speaking country, school or college. You can also take this exam for employment training or work experience.

Moreover, the General Training IELTS certificate is required for migration to the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It features everyday English language skills used in the workplace and social environments. You can only take this exam on paper and on a computer.

young man studying with laptop, pen and notebook

Why Take IELTS?

Taking the IELTS exam has many advantages, especially if you are planning on studying or living in a country with English as its native language since you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. The English language has over 379 million speakers worldwide and is the third most spoken language in the world. So, by levelling up your mastery, you are also paving the way for plentiful job opportunities.

What Score Do I Need?

Your score reflects a better understanding of the language and shows your ability to communicate in English. Since each university, immigration body, workplace, and institution, has specific IELTS score requirements, the score you need will depend on what you want to do in the country you are aiming for. But the higher your score, the better.

IELTS Score Scale

IELTS is graded on a scale of 0 to 9, with a grade of 0 given when test takers do not attempt the test and 9 for takers with excellent command of English, showing accurate, fluent and appropriate use of the language. Featured below is a more comprehensive view of the band scores.


The examinee has a complete understanding of the English language and shows appropriate, fluent and accurate use of the language.


The examinee has an excellent understanding of the English language with occasional inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They can handle detailed and complex argumentation well; however, they may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations.


The examinee has an excellent understanding of the English language with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in unfamiliar situations. They understand detailed reasoning and generally handle complex language well.


The examinee effectively commands the language with some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. In familiar situations, they can understand and use reasonably complex language.


The examinee has partial command of the language and can cope with overall meaning in most situations but is likely to commit many mistakes. However, they should be able to manage basic communication in familiar situations.


The examinee's understanding and competence are limited to familiar situations, and they cannot use complex language.


The examinee only understands and conveys general meaning in highly familiar situations with frequent breakdowns in communication.


The examinee has extreme difficulty understanding written and spoken English.


The examinee cannot speak English apart from a few isolated words.


The examinee did not answer the questions.

multiethnic students taking exam on shared desk

The Advantages of IELTS

This exam provides many benefits and opportunities for your future, especially if you are looking for better opportunities outside your home country.

Globally Recognised Test - The exam results are accepted by over 11,000 organisations all over the world. So, you can use your certificate for education, immigration or work purposes in prominent English-speaking countries.

Flexible Exam Options - You can choose when, where and how you want to take the test for your convenience since there are over 1,400 test locations worldwide across 56 countries. Depending on your purpose, you can also choose between the two versions of the exam.

Enhanced Employment Prospects - Excellent English communication skills are essential almost anywhere in the world. So, demonstrating excellent command of the language can open up many opportunities to pursue careers in a foreign country. In countries such as Canada and New Zealand, examinees must go beyond conversational English and attain competent command of the language. You can show this level of proficiency by achieving a score of six and above.

Real-Life Applications - Unlike automated speaking tests, IELTS mimics real-world conversations that can help you better prepare for life in a foreign country and interactions with neighbours and colleagues.

Achieve Future Goals - Ensure that you study for the IELTS exam with a clear goal in mind. That’s because having a goal you want to achieve motivates you to study harder. Because of that, you can improve your English skills much faster.

Prepare for the IELTS Exam with a Goal-Oriented Teacher

Do you need help passing the IELTS test? Make preparations for your future success with the help of a professional IELTS teacher online at Understand IELTS. We offer complete IELTS preparation courses designed to cover all four test sections. We also provide test-taking tips and strategies to help you achieve your desired score.

Enrol in our IELTS online writing classes to prepare for the exam. Get timely feedback on your progress and answers to any questions you have. Get in touch with us today to know more about us and our course offers.