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IELTS® stands for “International English Language Testing System.” It is a standardized test consisting of many parts that aims to comprehensively evaluate an examiner’s proficiency in the English language. The British Council, Cambridge ESOL, and IDP: IELTS Australia are co-owners of the test and developed it in 1989. Many companies around the world require foreign applicants to take the IELTS® test before accepting the latter as employees.
There are two versions of the test: the Academic version and the General Trading version. The Academic version is usually for people who want to pursue a college education in foreign universities, especially within English-speaking countries. The General Trading version of the test is offered to those who are looking for job opportunities, training courses, and high school education abroad. Migrating individuals and families are also recommended to take this type of exam. The Speaking and Listening test components are identical in both versions of the IELTS®, but the Reading and Writing parts are different.
Registering applicants can freely choose their examination date, as the tests are conducted 20 times or more in a year. The IELTS® test is broken down into four parts, all of which have time constraints. About 30 minutes are allotted for Listening, an hour each for Reading and Writing, and the Speaking parts runs from 11 to 14 minutes. Depending on the test centers, the first three parts of the test are finished in one session, while the Speaking part of the test is performed seven days after. All in all, the entire test lasts for two hours and 45 minutes.
All tests go through a computerized scanner to produce accurate results. The results are analyzed and marked based on a nine-band scoring system. The four test parts are individually scored, marked by numbers from one to nine. The test is only used to evaluate English proficiency, so it does not really determine whether the applicant has passed or failed. It is up to the company or the organization to set their own standards and minimum grade requirement to qualify an examiner as a “passer."
Applicants who are not happy with their test results are allowed to take the IELTS® test again an unlimited number of times. A 90-day waiting period, however, is required before taking the test again. For those who want to study and prepare beforehand, the system also provides Official IELTS® Practice Materials that include test samples and additional tips on how to take the test effectively.