IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, a very popular international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.
IELTS, which was established in 1989, is often spoken of in the same breath as TOEFL but there are several differences between the two. Which test you take depends on your individual goal – Why are you taking an English proficiency test? Do you want admission in a higher education institution? Or do you need to prove your English skills to work in or immigrate to another country.
There are two kinds of IELTS tests: Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS.
Academic IELTS is useful if you want to enroll in schools or universitiesto pursue higher education and for working professionals such as doctors, nurses, consultants who want to study or practise in another country. It’s becoming increasingly common for universities in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America to demand an IELTS certificate in order to enroll in bachelors and masters programmes because most university-level education nowadays is delivered in English, even in non-native speaker countries.
General Training IELTS is for those planning to undertake non-academic training or gain work experience, or for immigration.
While there is no minimum score to pass the test, all candidates are scored on a gradient from band 1 (non-user) to band 9 (experrt user). Each institution (school, university, or professional organization) sets its own minimum acceptable grade. Most institutes in non-native speaker countries require students to achieve band 4 or 5 in order to take admission or continue their studies at a higher level. Most universities in English speaking countries require a minimum of band 6.
IELTS test results are only valid for a period of two years, and most institutions require students to submit a certificate issued recently.
IELTS is now the world’s most popular test, with more than 2 million candidates taking the test every year.