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IELTS is the most trusted English test in the world – here’s why



Date Published

30 August 2023

IELTS is the world’s most trusted English test. But don’t just take our word for it – the figures speak for themselves. We have millions of test takers and more than 11,500 organisations, including top-ranking universities, employers, and governments, who continue to trust IELTS as a reliable measure of language for higher education and international migration. So what makes IELTS the test that you can really trust?

1. The right skills

Unlike some online English tests which just give you a general idea of test takers’ level of English, IELTS goes much further. By offering separate Academic and General Training tests, we make sure that successful test takers can really use English to communicate effectively in different English-speaking environments. We design the tests specifically to meet the needs of the organisations that use the results.

IELTS Academic covers the skills test takers need for success in their studies, including the kinds of written and spoken English they will require at university and beyond. IELTS General Training focuses on using English in everyday life and is ideal for test takers who want to live and work in an English-speaking country.

IELTS covers the four language skills in depth with separate tests of Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The tests look at the ability to use English effectively, including a face-to-face Speaking test for every test taker. The tests are marked by highly trained examiners, working with detailed marking schemes. Using human examiners allows us to focus on the skills test takers really need, not just those which are easy for computers to mark.

2. Results you can rely on

You can be confident that every IELTS test score is accurate and fair.

The IELTS tests give us detailed evidence of what each test taker can do in English, using precisely calibrated questions to give an accurate picture of their skills.

We validate the scores using data collected from millions of test takers around the world, and specialist teams run quality control processes to ensure that IELTS scores are always consistent, wherever and whenever the test is taken.

Our Quality Assurance processes – including double marking of a large sample of test takers’ answers – meet international quality standards. IELTS is also officially accredited by the UK exams regulator Ofqual and has been awarded the prestigious ALTE Q-mark.

3. Accessibility

IELTS tests are taken and recognised all over the world. We have testing centres in more than 4,000 locations in over 140 countries and territories. In fact, we run IELTS tests every day of the year! Test takers can choose the place and date which is most convenient for them. We also offer IELTS Online, which allows people to take a full IELTS test from their own homes, giving test takers added flexibility and choice.

Our test centres are experienced in meeting the needs of test takers who have special requirements due to temporary or permanent disabilities, and our specialist teams work hard to help every test taker demonstrate their true level of ability. Examples of this can include allowing test takers extra time to complete the test or providing modified versions of the test papers.

4. The truly global test

English is a world language. It isn’t enough to know just one kind of English. Learners need to be familiar with different varieties of English and have the flexibility to adapt to a wide range of accents and ways of speaking.

That’s why IELTS tests include accents from the UK, North America and Australasia, and we accept either British or American spellings.

5. Secure testing

Whether the test is taken in a test centre or online, IELTS tests are backed by multi-layered security to prevent malpractice, giving you confidence that the results you see really reflect the test taker’s true level of English.

We use a wide range of techniques to ensure that test takers are who they say they are, that they do not have access to questions in advance, and that results cannot be interfered with at any stage. Our security measures range from the handling of test materials, through to biometric checks on the test day and extensive statistical analysis of test takers’ performance before we issue the results.

Our online IELTS Results Service lets organisations check test takers’ results quickly and easily, including the photo taken on the day of the test to confirm their identity.

6. Expertise and support

IELTS is owned and run by an international partnership of organisations dedicated to supporting education and culture – British Council, IDP IELTS, and Cambridge University Press & Assessment. Together, our experts develop and deliver the IELTS tests through our network of regional offices and test centres.

Our teams around the world work closely with universities, employers, immigration authorities and the other organisations that use IELTS test results. We provide support at every stage, from considering the most appropriate band scores to set for admissions or recruitment, through to verifying the results of individual test takers through the IELTS Results Service.

We also work with the English language teaching profession worldwide to support test takers preparing for their tests, helping them develop skills that will be useful throughout their education and working lives.

Our Stakeholder Relations teams regularly gather feedback from organisations all over the world to help us improve the service we offer to everyone who takes IELTS or uses the test results. To take just one recent example, we introduced IELTS One Skill Retake based on feedback from test takers, universities, and other organisations.

7. Proven by research

Every aspect of the IELTS tests is backed by a unique programme of academic and practical research, led by specialist teams in each of the IELTS Partner organisations. This research ensures the ongoing relevance and quality of the IELTS tests and helps us continually improve the tests and the service we offer.

We have been running our research programme for over 30 years, drawing on data from millions of test takers. We use this as part of the continuous quality control processes which underpin every IELTS test and to drive new developments – every update and enhancement to IELTS is backed by research evidence.

We work with universities and researchers all over the world, funding independent research on all aspects of language testing, and we share our research in academic journals, at conferences and on our website. Read our latest Research Reports.

Join over 11,500 organisations which trust IELTS

If your institution doesn’t already accept IELTS scores, we’ll be very happy to discuss how we can help you to recruit applicants with the language skills you really need. When you recognise IELTS, you’ll get access to the IELTS Results Service as well as other benefits, including being listed on our website which is visited by millions of people every year.