What is IELTS?

The international English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration, with over 2 million tests taken in the last year.

IELTS assesses all of your English skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking, and is designed to reflect how you will use English at study, at work, and at play, in your new life abroad.

The IELTS test is developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment. It has an excellent international reputation, and is accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

IELTS is the most widely accepted English language test that uses a one-on-one speaking test to assess your English communication skills. This means that you are assessed by having a real-life conversation with a real person. This is the most effective and natural way of testing your English conversation skills.

You can take IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training – depending on the organisation you are applying to and your plans for the future.

Whatever your reason for taking IELTS, make the most of your language skills.

Which version of IELTS is right for you?

Check with the organisations you wish to apply to before you book your test!

There are two versions of IELTS to choose from:

1. IELTS Academic
2. IELTS General Training

Make sure you know which one you need before you book your test.

What do you want to do?    The version you need

1. I want to:

- study at university at undergraduate or postgraduate level; or

- join a professional organisation in an English-speaking country

You should take IELTS Academic

2. I want to:

- train or study at below degree level

- work or undertake work-related training in an English-speaking country

- emigrate to an English-speaking country

You should take IELTS General Training

How to prepare for the IELTS test

IELTS measures your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, and assesses your ability to communicate for work, study or life in an English-speaking country.

The first step is to make sure you understand the IELTS test format. You need to know what will be expected of you on test day.

Understand the IELTS test format

- Study the test format to make sure that you know what to expect.
- Look carefully at the content of each part of the IELTS test: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
- Get to know the different types of questions that you may be asked in each part.

Once you are familiar with the IELTS test format, you will need to undertake a number of focused preparation activities.

Recommended preparation activities

- Examine our IELTS practice test papers and answers.
- Take practice tests under timed conditions.
- Practise with the British Council's IELTS online preparation resources, available free when you book your test with the British Council.
- Buy IELTS self-study books and materials.
- Consider taking an IELTS preparation course with the British Council.
- Review our IELTS test day advice.