When choosing which IELTS exam to take, the most important consideration is why you need an IELTS qualification.
So let’s start by looking at the different versions of the test and which institutions require each type.
There are three versions of the IELTS exam – Academic, General Training, and the lesser known Life Skills test.
Each has been designed for a specific purpose and most institutions specify which version they require or prefer from applicants.
More than 10,000 institutions around the world accept IELTS as proof of English language proficiency, including universities, professional bodies, immigration departments and multinational companies. But which IELTS test does each accept?
1) IELTS Academic – required by universities and professional registration bodies.
It is essential to take the Academic test if you want to apply for a place at a university or other higher education institution in an English country or in a non-native English-speaking country where courses are taught in the English language.
Most academic institutions in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and across Europe require an Academic certificate for both undergraduate and postgraduate study.
The USA has traditionally favoured TOEFL over IELTS but the IELTS qualification is now becoming much more widely accepted in US universities, schools, and within professional organisations.
* Important – Individual universities and colleges have different score requirements, so it is essential to check the exact requirements of the institution you want to apply to.
For example, a university will typically require an overall IELTS band score of 6.5 with no component less than 5.5. They may also require higher scores in the Writing and Reading sections of the test.
It is also common for there to be different band score requirements for different courses at the same university.
The average band requirement is 6.0-6.5 but the top universities may ask for a band score of 7.0 at undergraduate level and 7.5 or over for postgraduate courses.
Find out more about the IELTS Band Score System via this link.
IELTS Academic is also generally preferred by professional bodies in English-speaking countries and required for registration. This is particularly the case in fields such as,
2) IELTS General Training is for people wanting to work in or emigrate to the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada or New Zealand. It is widely accepted for,
Your test result is used by the various institutions to help them decide if you will be able to study, work or live successfully in the country to which you are applying.
3) IELTS Life Skills - accepted by the UK government
for visa and immigration purposes.
Many people who are researching which IELTS test to take are unaware of the existence of the IELTS Life Skills test. Indeed, it is the newest of the tests, having only been introduced in 2015.
It is specifically designed to meet UK immigration requirements and tests only Speaking and Listening skills.
On this website, I focus on Academic and General Training. They are the most popular tests and the ones this website has been created to prepare you for.
However, I have included a few more details about the Life Skills test on the following page in case you are interested: What is IELTS? – Life Skills Test
It is well worth considering taking the IELTS exam if you want to work in an international environment. The IELTS certificate is valued and well respected by multinational employers worldwide. It will look impressive on your CV when you apply for jobs and may make every difference to your success in securing high-level employment.
The British Council website has a very useful search facility that will give you valuable information on employers, governments, immigration authorities and professional bodies around the world that accept IELTS, and the minimum band score requirements for each.
Use it if you‘re not sure which IELTS test would be most appropriate for the industry you want to work in. The website also has a database of thousands of educational institutions across the world that accept IELTS. Find it here.
The information on Academic and General Training given on this page should also help you to decide which IELTS test to take.
For details on the test format of the two main versions of the test, visit this page: IELTS Test Format – Academic & General Training.
Want to watch & listen to this information? Click on this video.