What is IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is international standardized English language proficiency test that is trusted by universities, governments and businesses worldwide. It is jointly owned and managed by three organizations – the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. This test is similar to English language tests like TOEFL, TOEIC, PTE, and OPI/OPIc. Over 10,000 organizations trust and accept the test score as secure, valid and reliable indicator of ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation.

The test measures four key languages skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing. The content of the test is backed by dedicated research teams in the UK and Australia, it’s administered by centers in more than 140 countries around the world.

About 3.5 million people take this test each year.


How long is IELTS score valid for?

Most organizations accept IELTS score not older than 2 years.


General or Academic IELTS?

Academic test version measures English language proficiency needed for higher education. Fortunately, the test is accessible to all students, irrespective of their majors. 

General Training test version, not only measures English language proficiency in a non-academic context, but this is also suitable for immigration purposes in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Interestingly, in 2018, 76% of all the IELTS test takers took Academic version.

Read more: Computer Based or Paper Based IELTS?

Which countries do accept IELTS?

Whereas, IELTS Academic test score is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, European, Irish and New Zealand academic institutions, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada accepts IELTS General test score for immigration.


How to take IELTS test?

There are about 1,600 IELTS test locations in over 140 countries. You can select any location worldwide. Although the test costs about USD $200, it can be slightly different in different countries. Most test centers take speaking test on the same day, however, some test centers may schedule speaking test on a different day. Listening, Reading and Writing tests are scheduled at a single siting of 3 hour stretch.

You can cancel or reschedule your IELTS test only if the test day is more than 5 weeks away. However, you will still must pay about $50 administrative fee.

In case you are wondering how to register for the test, you can start here


How much score do I need?

Both Academic and General tests are scored on a banded system from 1 (the lowest) through 9 (the highest band). Nonetheless, Different organizations or universities set different thresholds. Even within same government, two different immigration programs may have different band score requirements. Certainly, most universities would accept at least 6.5, except some top universities like Harvard, London Business School who ask for 7 to 7.5.

Even though for immigration to Australia and Canada you would need minimum 6 band score, however, in reality, you will not stand a chance with that score. For Canada, you need 8 in listening and 7 for the other sections at least, to stand in competition. For Australia, you will require overall band score of 8.



Minimum Band Score

University of Toronto


6.5 overall no section less than 6

University of British Columbia


6.5 too 7.0 overall no section less than 6

McGill University


7.0 overall no section less than 6




Harvard University



Carnegie Mellon University



University of Wisconsin-Madison



University of Melbourne


6.5 overall no section less than 6

University of Auckland

New Zealand

6.5 overall no section less than 6

Read: Top 5 reasons why you should study in Canada as an international student


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