Guidance For The IELTS back to top


We've included this page for those of you who also have to take the IELTS or have a friend that does. Though NoteFull currently doesn't offer any courses for the IELTS, we know that a few students need to take it too, and so we wanted to help you as much as possible with this information as an extra resource. We hope it helps!


IELTS Basics & Information back to top


We've created this page for those of you who still have a bit of doubt about how to move forward in your careers and education. Most of you know that you will need to take an exam that measures English proficiency, but do not know which exam to take. This page will outline the differences between the TOEFL and the IELTS so that you can make the decision that's right for you and your goals as a professional or as a student.


Important Points About This Page back to top


We're excited to present this page as our first step in helping students succeed with the IELTS. An important point to notice is that spelling and punctuation on this section of our site changes to British standards since the IELTS requires this kind of spelling. We hope you enjoy the page and see more and more our commitment to offer more and more help. Good luck!


History of the IELTS back to top


IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. Academic, professional, and governmental institutions need a way to find out how much English a foreigner can speak. Rather than create and grade their own specific English tests, these individuals, groups, and institutions trust an unbiased group of organisations to do so.  The IELTS is jointly owned and created by three international organisations: British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). 


Which Exam Should I Take? TOEFL or IELTS back to top


If you are unsure whether you should take the TOEFL, the IELTS Academic version, the IELTS General Training version and are unsure about which one you should take, you should consider the following:


First, if you’re applying for citizenship, each country has its own requirements. You’ll need to take the TOEFL if you plan on immigrating into the United States. However, if you’re applying for citizenship to any other English-speaking nation, you’ll be required to take the IELTS General Training


Second, if you’re applying for acceptance to a higher educational or professional program, each institution has their own requirements. Your first step should be to inquire where you’re applying. Typically, when applying in North America (e.g., the United States and Canada), you may be required to take the TOEFL. Typically, when applying to institutions in other English-speaking countries (e.g., Australia, South Africa, or the UK) you may be required to take the IELTS Academic


Although not usually the case, if you are given the choice between any of the three tests, you may consider taking the easiest. This would be the IELTS General Training.


If you are given the choice between the TOEFL and the IELTS Academic the choice can be challenging, but is ultimately up to you. Please take a look at the following differences to help you make the best decision possible:






Internet Based

Paper Based


Educational Testing Service (ETS)

British Council, IDP, and Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)


North American (U.S.) English

British English


4 hours

2 hours 45 minutes

Experimental Sections

You may have 1 experimental reading and/or experimental listening set



Multiple Choice

Multiple choice, fill-in, passage selection  


Listen to a recording first, then answer multiple-choice questions 

Multiple-choice, matching, and fill-in questions about a recording as it plays. Recording is broken up into sections.


Student responses are recorded for later grading

Face-to-face interview with an examiner 


1 essay based on a lecture and reading; 1 opinion-based essay

1 essay based on a chart, table, or graph description; 1 opinion-based essay


If you’re still not sure, the best tool to use is what is most required in your application process. If applying to schools in the U.K. the IELTS might be a strong choice and if you’re applying to schools in the U.S. the TOEFL is the better choice because that is where each was created and where each is most often accepted.


Which Version of the IELTS is Right for Me? back to top


The Academic test is usually taken by candidates who are interested in applying to English-speaking undergraduate and postgraduate universities, higher education institutions, and some professionals (e.g., medical doctors and nurses) will be required to take this exam for migration purposes. 


The General Training test is recommended for candidates who are going to English-speaking countries for secondary education (e.g., high school), work experience, or training programs. Some countries require an IELTS score for immigration. These countries include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


Who Requires and Accepts the IELTS? back to top


To find out if your academic, professional, or governmental institution accepts or requires an IELTS score, click on the following link to do a quick search:


IELTS Global Recognition System


How Do I Register? back to top


If you fall into one of the categories above or know that you must take the IELTS, the next step is registration. 


Due to a high demand and limited seat availability you may not be able to test on the date of your first choice. To register, you’ll first need to check if there is an available spot at the location and date of your choice. Here is a link to check the availability:


Test Centre Availability


Once you find an open seat in the test centre and on the date of your choice you’ll need to fill out a series of forms that follow. Please note, you’ll also be prompted to upload a photo, but if you do not have one on hand, you can skip this step and send it in by mail with your remaining application materials. 


After you’ve registered you should receive an email confirming that your application has been received. It will include specific contact information about your centre. You’ll also receive instruction on how to move on to the next step. This step includes sending documents and payment to your test centre. You have 5 business days to submit all of the required documents. The required documents are as follows:


1. Copy of your valid unexpired passport. 

2. 2 passport size photos of yourself (photographs must be no more than 3 months old, taken against light background and without glasses.)

3. Payment of $185. You can pay with a money order, credit card (a form will be provided in the confirmation email), or cash (only in person).

4. Copy of your confirmation email. 


How Much Does the IELTS Cost? back to top


The IELTS costs $185 in US currency but can vary slightly according to your testing location. The following forms of payment are all acceptable: money order, cash (in person), credit/debit (American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. All payments must be made within 5 days of registration to secure your seat. 


How Do I Schedule an IELTS Exam? back to top


When scheduling your exam, you may find that the waiting period can be up to two months; so book well in advance! You can find your nearest IELTS centre online and you can also check the test dates to find an option that suits you and your schedule. Click on the following link to find a test centre near you:


IELTS Test Centres


Note that there are fewer test dates available for taking the General Training test. IELTS has 48 fixed test dates each year. The Academic version of the test is available on all 48 dates. The General Training version of the test is available on 24 dates.  Test dates usually fall on Saturdays, but are occasionally held on Thursdays as well. For a link to the IELTS calendar, click on the following link:


IELTS Test Dates


What's the Highest Score Possible for the IELTS? back to top


IELTS has four sections:  Reading, Listening, Writing, Speaking


Each section of the exam is scored and then converted into a band of 0-9. The individual band scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score. Each band reflects a level of English competence. All parts of the test and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole and half bands (e.g., 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0). 


The IELTS Band Score Scale


9 Expert user

8 Very good user

7 Good user

6 Competent user

5 Modest user

4 Limited user

3 Extremely limited user

2 Intermittent user

1 Non user

0 Did not attempt the test


How Long Does the IELTS Take and What's on it? back to top


The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are done in one sitting with no break. The Speaking test may be on the same day (usually in the afternoon) or up to seven days before or after the other sections of the test. Each test centre is a bit different, so it would be best to find out how and when to arrange your Speaking test by asking your centre (email address, contact number, and address should all be provided in the confirmation email you receive after registration). 








1 conversation between 2 people

1 monologue (1 speaker) about everyday topics

1 conversation between up to 4 people

1 monologue (1 speaker) in an academic context

30 minutes + 10 minutes to transfer your answers

40 questions




3 academic reading passages 

General Training:

2-3 everyday factual texts         

2 work-related factual texts        

1 longer text

 60 minutes



40 questions




150-word description of chart, graph, diagram,  or table

250-word formal opinion-based response

General Training:

150-word letter 

250-word personal opinion-based response

60 minutes

2 tasks



4-5 minute interview & introduction    

3-4 minute to prepare and respond to questions on prompt card

4-5 minute discussion of abstract ideas based on questions from prompt card in 2nd section

11-14 minutes

3 sections


In sum


174-177 minutes




Where Can I Find the Best IELTS Practice back to top


We are currently developing practice materials and instructional content to help you start improving your IELTS scores. In the meantime, please use the practice content provided on the IELTS website. Here is a link to help you get started on your studies right away:


IELTS Practice Test Samples

































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