Who accepts IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests for academic education taught in English as well as for global migration. IELTS is accepted worldwide by more than 9,000 institutions, such as universities, corporations, immigration offices and international professional organisations.
There are three versions of the IELTS test: Academic, General Training and Life Skills. Circumstances define which test is required, with institutions generally specifying which IELTS option they accept or prefer.
IELTS Academic - accepted at universities and professional registration bodies
If you wish to attend a university or other higher education centre that offers study programmes in English, you should take the IELTS Academic test. Thousands of the world’s most esteemed universities and colleges will accept your IELTS results as proof of your English language skills.
Most European and Australian academic institutions require the IELTS Academic certificate, because it is based more on British and Australian English. A growing number of universities in the U.S. also accept this test certificate as evidence of competence in English, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Universities and colleges have different score requirements, with higher scores required for the Reading and Writing sections of the IELTS Academic test in particular. Universities typically require an overall band score of 6.0-6.5, although some top European institutions may expect a band score of 7.0 at undergraduate level, and over 7.5 for graduates.
In the IELTS 9-band grading system, a score of 1.0 indicates non-speakers of the language, whilst band 9.0 means an expert level of competence. A score of 6.0 therefore indicates a ‘competent user’, who generally has an effective command of the English language, while a band score of 7.0 is evidence of a good command of English in complex and detailed language contexts.
The Academic IELTS is also useful for those who wish to join a professional body in an English-speaking country. Professional registration bodies will accept an IELTS Academic result in many fields such as accounting, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and teaching.
IELTS General Training - accepted at high-schools and for visa and employment purposes
You should choose the General Training IELTS as proof of your language competence and general communication skills if you wish to emigrate to an English-speaking country. You should also take this IELTS version if you intend to undertake secondary education (high-school) in an English-speaking environment. IELTS General Training is required as a condition for permanent residency by governments in more countries than any other English language test. The IELTS certificate is accepted for visa and employment purposes in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
To support the policy of English for international opportunities, the British Council IELTS offers a number of scholarships for students from the following countries who wish to study in an English-speaking environment: Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Although the IELTS certificate is slightly more popular in Europe than in the U.S., both the Academic and General Training versions are accepted by over 3,300 American universities and other institutions. These include prestigious U.S. universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and many other top American academic institutions.
IELTS Life Skills - accepted by the UK government for visa and immigration purposes
The IELTS Life Skills is a new type of test introduced and approved by the UK Government for Visas and Immigration (UKVI) purposes. The new test has been designed to meet specific immigration requirements. You will need to demonstrate only appropriate Speaking and Listening skills during the test. IELTS Life Skills is available at two levels, corresponding to levels A1 and B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).
Before you register for your test, you should check the English language requirements for your visa category. The British government requires IELTS Life Skills A1 if you are applying for a UK Visas and Immigration family, spouse or partner visa. You should take the IELTS Life Skills B1 to obtain a citizenship/residence visa. The test is available at UKVI-approved locations throughout the world. Please take into account that an English test in not the only requirement for a visa, in many cases the proper student insurance or other occupational insurances need to be arranged before a visa will be granted.
Other uses of your IELTS scores
Your English language skills will be especially appreciated if you are thinking about working in an international environment or considering volunteering abroad. The IELTS language certificate is very well-known among multinational employers, and will be a huge asset on your CV when you are applying for jobs.
If you have any doubts about which IELTS test you should take, or what score you need to achieve, contact the relevant institution or authority directly to ask about their English language requirements. The British Council website also has a comprising database of detailed IELTS scores for many of the organisations that require evidence of English language proficiency.