IELTS Overview

THE WORLD'S MOST POPULAR ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST

About the Test

There are two levels of test: academic and general. Academic-level tests are taken by those who wish to attend university or college or want professional-level registration. General-level tests are reserved for those who are migrating to an English-speaking country or who don’t plan to take courses at a post-secondary level. In the majority of cases, Columbia students will be taking the academic level test. Check with the school if you have questions.

There are four components to every test:

Test Components
Listening Reading Writing Speaking
4 sections,
40 items
30 minutes
3 sections,
40 items
60 minutes
2 tasks
(150 & 250 words)
60 minutes
An 11 to 14 minute-long personal interview with examiner.

IELTS Quick Facts

  • Accepted as proof of English proficiency by more than 9000 organizations
  • Test fee is $309
  • Test length is 2 hours and 45 minutes
  • Acceptable identification is either passport or permanent resident card
  • No refunds for no-shows, cancellations and date changes within five weeks of test date
  • Register online or in person
  • Payment by Visa, Mastercard, cash or debit, depending how you register

Test Day

What to bring

  • Your confirmation letter, which will contain information about the test location and schedule.
  • Your passport or permanent resident card, whichever one you used to register for the test. If you don’t bring the correct identification you won’t be allowed to write the test.
  • Non-mechanical pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener and a clear water bottle (if desired).

Don’t bring

  • Purses or bags
  • Wallets or money
  • Phones
  • Recording devices
  • Food
  • If you bring any items that aren’t permitted, they will be stored in a locked area. Personal items are left at your own risk.

Visit the IELTS website

Registration and start time

Registration opens at 7:45 a.m. and closes at 8:45 a.m. Late arrivals will not be admitted. Testing starts at 9:00 a.m.

Schedule

The test is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. The listening, reading and writing components are taken in the morning without a break. A lunch break is provided after the writing test. Speaking interviews are normally scheduled in the afternoon of the test date. You can confirm your speaking interview time when you arrive on the day of your test—be prepared to stay until 5:30 p.m. We will contact you prior to test day only if your speaking interview is scheduled for another day.

Identification

Your identity is confirmed on test day using your passport or permanent resident card. As an additional security measure, your photo will be taken and will appear on the form you receive with your IELTS test results. Your finger may also be scanned on test day.

Test Results

Your test results will show a “band score” for each of the test components (listening, reading, writing and speaking) and an overall band score (an average of the four components), rather than a pass or fail. A band score is a scale from 1 (“non-user”) to 9 (“expert user”).

Test results are mailed out 13 calendar days after your test date by regular post. You can also pick up your test results in person. Only you can pick up your test results and you must bring your passport or permanent resident card, whichever you used to initially apply for the test.

Only one copy of your test results will come to you. Up to five additional copies of the test result form will be sent directly to the institutions you specified on your application form.

You can order more copies of your test results within two years of your test date. Visit the policies page for more information on the process to follow and a link to the form you’ll need to fill out.

Test results are valid for two years from the date of your test.

The IELTS Test Centre can’t give advice on what test versions or scores are required by different institutions. Please contact the institution directly.