IELTS is an English Language Proficiency test that is required to be taken by non-native students for study in countries where the medium of instruction is English. Among the popular study destinations IELTS is accepted by universities in UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. IELTS is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council, and IDP: IELTS Australia.
It has become a mandatory test for students of many nationalities to get student visas to Australia. You cannot be granted an Australian student visa without an IELTS score if you are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and many other countries, TOEFL is not accepted.
All other study destinations either require you to take the TOEFL or IELTS. IELTS is however not accepted by most universities in USA. TOEFL is required for study there.
The test is conducted by the British Council. You can contact your local British Council office to find out where your nearest test centre is located. Most centres normally have a testing session about once a month. You should contact the test centre to find out the date of the next test and collect the IELTS handbook and an application form. The filled application form should be sent back to the test centre with the test fee. You will be given a date and time of your test.
The British Council also runs short courses to prepare you for IELTS. Check details about the same from your test centre.
The test results are normally made available within two weeks of taking the test. You can also ask for more copies of your test results.
The test has different sections:
The Listening Section - Duration : 30 minutes
Academic reading/general training reading section - Duration : 60 minutes
Academic writing/general training writing section - Duration : 60 minutes
Speaking Section : Duration : 11 - 14 minutes
Total test time : 2 hours and 45 minutes
You will receive a separate Band Score. The four Band Scores, one for each section are added together and averaged for an Overall Band Score. Each Band has a statement giving a summary of the English at that level. There are nine Band levels, from one (non-user) to nine (expert user).
The minimum score accepted for a course ranges from 5.0 to 7.5, depending upon courses and institutes you are applying to. The most common requirement is a band score of 6 to 6.5.
Test Reports have a validity of two years.
You can retake the test if you donot achieve the desired score but not before three months of the first test date.