What is the IELTS English proficiency test?

IELTS, also known as the International English Language Testing System, is globally recognised as the world’s most popular English assessment test for higher education and global migration. It was developed by world-leading experts in language assessment, is trusted by over 700 Canadian organisations and used by millions of test takers worldwide.

It was the first test to be recognised by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Immigration Quebec as proof of English language proficiency for such government programs as Express Entry and other Canadian programs.

So, if you’re looking for a credible English proficiency test, IELTS is the place to start!

3 million

IELTS tests worldwide annually


Educational institutions accept and trust IELTS


Number of test locations in Canada

About the IELTS test and what it includes

Test format

There are four parts to the test which you will be assessed on: reading, writing, listening and speaking. These are all completed inside a test venue, and you also have a choice of whether you’d like to sit the Listening, Reading and Writing parts of your test on paper or a computer. The Speaking section is always carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS Examiner.

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General or Academic

There are two types of tests: Academic and General. If you are moving to Canada to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level at university, you should take the Academic test. If you’re applying to an immigration program, such as Express Entry, in order to establish yourself in Canada, you should take the General Training test.

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How it is scored

You cannot fail the IELTS test; it is designed to assess English language skills at all levels. You will receive IELTS scores based on each for the four skills on a scale of 0–9, and you will also be awarded an overall band score.

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How do I book an IELTS test?

When you book your IELTS test through British Council, not only will you find plenty of test sittings available at convenient times and locations to suit you, but you will also have access to lots of free learning materials to prepare you for your exam. From online resources to webinars, practice tests and more, British Council will make sure that you have everything you need to study for your test.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an English proficiency test?

What is the best English proficiency test & which one should I take?

How do you get an English proficiency certificate?

How do you take an English proficiency test?

A group of test takers sat in booths with headphones on, sitting IELTS on computers.