What is IELTS?
IELTS : International English Language Testing System
IELTS tests the complete range of English language skills which will commonly be encountered by students when studying or training in the medium of English. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules. There is an option of either Academic or General Training Reading and Writing Modules. Academic is suitable for candidates planning to undertake higher education study. General Training is suitable for candidates planning to undertake non-academic training or work experience, or for immigration purposes.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand academic institutions. American academic institutions are increasingly accepting IELTS for admissions purposes.
IELTS is accepted by many professional organisations including the New Zealand Immigration Service, the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Australian Medical Council, the UK General Medical Council and the UK Ministry of Defence.
IELTS is jointly managed by The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), The British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia.
The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) is an internationally recognised body in the provision of academic and vocational examinations. In the field of English language alone, UCLES examines more than 400,000 candidates each year. Please see ( for further information, or contact
The British Council has wide experience and knowledge of test administration. With a network of examinations offices in over 100 countries, The British Council administers over 500,000 examinations overseas on behalf of British examining boards. Please see ( for further information, or contact
IDP Education Australia is Australia's international education organization. It undertakes a broad range of activities from student advisory services and educational publications to project consultancy and English language teaching and testing. Please see ( for further information, or contact
All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules. If you are planning to undertake academic study it is recommended that you sit for the Academic Reading and Writing Modules. If you are planning to undertake non-academic training or apply for immigration to Australia or New Zealand it is recommended that you sit for the General Training Reading and Writing Modules. Please ask at the IELTS centre if you are unsure of which module to take.
Module Test Duration Test Section Score
Listening 30 Minutes 4 Sections Band 0-9
Reading 60 Minutes 3 Passages Band 0-9
Writing 60 Minutes 2 Tasks Band 0-9
Speaking 10-14 Minutes 3 Rounds Band 0-9
IELTS Results
Results are returned to the candidates within two weeks in the form of a Test Report Form (see next item).
  • Candidates receive scores on a band scale from 1 to 9
  • Candidates receive a score for each module of the test as well as an overall score.
  • Overall Band Scores and Listening and Reading Band Scores are reported in half bands; Writing and Speaking Band Scores are reported in whole Bands.
  • There is no pass or fail mark.
  • The IELTS Handbook provides a written Interpretation of Results.
  • Results are valid for two years.
The Test Report Form 
IELTS provides a profile of English language ability in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
A Band Score for each of the four modules as well as an overall score is recorded on the Test Report Form. This allows receiving institutions to clearly identify the candidates' strengths and weaknesses. These Band Scores are recorded on the Test Report Form along with details of the candidate's nationality, first language and date of birth. The Test Report Form indicates whether it is for an Academic or General Training candidate.
Marking at the test centre ensures that test results are available without any administrative delay.
A valid Test Report Form bears a centre stamp, a validation stamp and the IELTS administrator's signature. Test Report Forms should be sent directly from the test centre to the receiving institution or organisation. Photocopies should not be accepted.
Interpretation of Results
Each Band corresponds to a descriptive statement giving a summary of the English of a candidate classified at that level. Overall Band Scores can be reported in either whole or half Bands.
The nine bands and their descriptive statements are as follows:
9 Expert User
Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
8 Very Good User
Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
7 Good User 
Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6 Competent User
Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest User
Has 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.
4 Limited User
Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely Limited User
Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
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.
1 Non User
Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
0 Did not attempt the test
No assessable information provided.
What else is new?
Educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects in relation to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
IELTS Australia Pty Limited and the British Council have designated funds to be made available for suitable research projects on IELTS. Financial support will be limited to a maximum of $30,000 per selected project.
Research will be expected to commence by January 2003 and completed by September 2003. Final reports on findings and conclusions should be submitted by December 2003. Applicants shall be required to submit final reports in a format meeting specifications for publication.
Institutions/individuals are invited to submit a written application (maximum of 10 pages, unbound) in accordance with the format and content requirements. All applications received will be treated on a confidential basis. The decision of the review committee will be final. Proposals from researchers and institutions with established links with IELTS are welcomed.
Application forms and submission guidelines are available from:
Ms Sasha Hampson
Program ManagerTesting Services
IELTS Australia
IDP Education Australia
GPO Box 2006
Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: 61 6 285 8222
Fax: 61 6 285 3233
Ms Helen Bird
UK and Ireland IELTS Manager
IELTS Research
British Council
14 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN
United Kingdom
Tel: 44 20 7389 4726
Fax: 44 20 7389 4140
IELTS MA Dissertation Award 2002
For 2002, the entry procedures and timetable for the award are given below:
Submission and evaluation procedures
The full dissertation abstract, accompanied by both the Introduction and Method chapters together with a reference from your supervisor, should be submitted to:
Dr Lynda Taylor / Stuart Shaw
EFL Division
University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate
1 Hills Road
United Kingdom
  • The IELTS Research Committee, which comprises members of the three partner organisations, will review the submissions and shortlist potential award winners.
  • For all shortlisted dissertations a full copy of the dissertation will be requested and a further reference may be sought.
  • Shortlisted dissertations will be reviewed and evaluated by the IELTS Research Committee according to the following criteria:
    • Rationale for the research
    • Contextualisation within the literature
    • Feasibility of outcomes
    • Design of research question(s)
    • Choice and use of methodology
    • Interpretation and conclusions
    • Quality of presentation
    • Use of references
    • Contribution to the field
    • Potential for future publication
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