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Taking the IELTS English Proficiency Test

Many US colleges and universities now accept scores from the IELTS test.

For non-native English speakers who want to study at English-language universities, the International English Language Testing System, or IELTS test, is one of the most popular English proficiency exams.

Formerly used predominantly by English-speaking universities in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, the IELTS test is now widely accepted by colleges and universities throughout the US, including all of the Ivy League schools.

Before choosing the IELTS test, however, make sure it’s the right test for you and the schools you are applying to.

What is the IELTS?

Like other English proficiency tests, the IELTS test assesses writing, reading, listening and speaking skills, ultimately indicating the test-taker’s ability to communicate in the English language.

The IELTS test has two versions: the general and the academic. The academic test contains more challenging reading and writing sections than the general test, ensuring that test-takers will meet the superior language ability required by academic work.

The popularity of the IELTS test is growing fast. In 2007, more than 1 million took the IELTS test in a 12-month period, making it the most popular English language test among immigrants and higher education institutions around the world.

Is the IELTS test right for you?

Before signing up for the IELTS test, check the international student admission requirements of the colleges where you are applying. Although the IELTS test is widely accepted across the US and throughout the world, some colleges and universities may require a different proficiency exam, such as the TOEFL.

Remember that the IELTS is an international test, and includes listening and reading passages in British, Australian and North American English. Those planning to take the IELTS test should be familiar with all of these major variations of English.

How is the IELTS scored?

IELTS test scores are made on a band scale from one to nine.

The candidate receives a separate score for each section of the test: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The average of these four individual scores is calculated and rounded to create an Overall Band Score in accordance with a confidential band score conversion table.

These test results are available 13 days after the test is taken. Scores are valid for two years.

The IELTS test is $185 USD or the equivalent thereof in the currency of the country where the test is administered. The candidate may request up to five test report forms to be sent to institutions of his choice. The cost for additional test report forms is $15 USD each.

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Decided the IELTS test is right for you? Registration is available online or at an IELTS test center located in the US or in more than 120 countries worldwide. Regular IELTS test sessions are offered throughout the year. Good luck!