Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Are you taking IELTS for the first time?

If you are new to the world of IELTS, you probably have some questions.

The information below should serve as a good introduction for you, and also help set you on the path to reaching your IELTS score and whatever goals lie beyond!

What does IELTS stand for?

IELTS is an acronym for the International English Language Testing System.

Why are there two different versions?

The Academic version is for candidates who need a certain score to enter university.

These are usually non-native English speakers who want to attend an English-language university.

The General version is for candidates who need a certain score to work in another country, immigrate, or for other visa requirements.

Where can I take the test?

Go to to find a testing center near you.

Testing centers are all over the world, usually in language schools or universities, and sometimes in British Council or IDP offices.

When can I take the test?

Exams are offered 3 Saturdays a month and sometimes on Thursdays.

However, not all testing centers offer that many exams.

You have to check with your local center.

How long is the exam?

The first three sections of the exam, Listening, Reading, and Writing, are finished in a 3 hour period in the morning.

Then, the 15 minute Speaking exam is usually held in the afternoon on the same day.

Sometimes, though, centers offer Speaking exams the week before or the week after.

How long should I prepare for the exam before I take it?

This all depends on your English level.

If you are an intermediate student, you should prepare for at least 3 months.

If you are upper-intermediate to advanced, you could get by on a 60 day or a 30 day study plan.

However, no matter what level, preparation is intense.

You need to study 5-6 days a week, and do a wide variety of activities which strengthen your overall English ability and your testing skills.

Is the test in American or British English?

Both! The Listening exam will feature a variety of accents.

The Reading, also, will feature passages drawn from both American and British publications.

The version of English you speak/write with also doesn’t matter- if you spell ‘color’ or ‘colour’, you get the same amount of points.

As long as the language is correct in either American or British English, you will be fine.

What are the examiners like?

The examiners are almost always native speakers, and they can be male or female, young or old.

Keep in mind, though, that the examiners have all undergone exactly the same training, all over the world, and they are checked and rechecked constantly to ensure they are following the testing requirements and grading correctly.

The examiner you speak to on test day could be serious or relaxed- do not let a serious face make you nervous.

Just remember to smile and be respectful and nice, and the examiner will do the same.

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