The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS/ˈaɪ.ɛlts/, is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by Cambridge English Language Assessment, the British Council and IDP Education Pvt Ltd, and was established in 1989. IELTS is one of the two major English-language tests in the world, the other being the TOEFL.
There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version:
The Academic Version is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
The General Training Version is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organizations across the world. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and New Zealand. In Canada, IELTS, TEF, or CELPIP are accepted by the immigration authority.
No minimum score is required to pass the test. An IELTS result or Test Report Form is issued to all candidates with a score from “band 1″ (“non-user”) to “band 9″ (“expert user”) and each institution sets a different threshold. There is also a “band 0″ score for those who did not attempt the test. Institutions are advised not to consider a report older than two years to be valid, unless the user proves that he has worked to maintain his level.
In 2007, IELTS tested over a million candidates in a single 12-month period for the first time ever, making it the world’s most popular English language test for higher education and immigration. In theory tests performed on native English speakers must show 9.0 results in 100%. This result however was never achieved.
In 2009, 1.4 million candidates took the IELTS test in over 130 countries, in 2011 there were 1.7 million candidates whereas in 2012, 2 million candidates were tested.