IELTS Explanations

According to Abbreviationfinder, IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and is a globally recognized test to prove English language skills. More than 6,000 educational institutions, government institutions and organizations in 120 countries recognize the IELTS as a mandatory language certificate for English – over 1,700 in the USA alone. This makes the IELTS test one of the most widely used English tests in the world.

The IELTS exam is very similar to other English certificates such as the TOEFL in terms of its basic structure, but there are also some decisive differences in the examination structure and acceptance. While the TOEFL test is primarily based on American English, the IELTS tests both British and American English . This fact, as well as the fact that the test is carried out by Cambridge University, the British Council and IDP Education Australia, contribute to the fact that this test is particularly popular in England, Australia and New Zealand. The TOEFL is often accepted as an alternative, but the IELTS is usually the preferred variant. The test is valid for 2 years.

Structure of the language test

IELTS is offered in two different test versions, which are aimed at different user groups:


This test is mainly taken by students who want to study at a university in an English-speaking country or a German university. Most universities in Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand, as well as nearly 1,800 institutions in the USA (the number is steadily increasing) accept the test as an admission requirement. More and more German universities and technical colleges are also demanding the IELTS for courses with international components (Bachelor / Master). People who work in the medical field must take the IELTS test to get a work permit in the above countries.

General training

This variant is completed by people who need proof of their general knowledge of English, for example for work or for immigration.

IELTS tests practice-oriented English as it is needed for work, study and everyday life. In both variants offered, the test takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes and consists of four modules:

  • 1. Listening (approx. 30 min.)
  • 2. Academic Reading or General Training Reading (approx. 60 min.)
  • 3. Academic Writing or General Training Writing (approx. 60 min.)
  • 4. Speaking (approx. 10-15 min.)

The first three modules have to be completed in one day; the speaking module can be completed up to a week before or after the written part by arrangement with the test center. Besides the Cambridge exam, IELTS is the only internationally accredited English test in which oral language skills are not tested on the computer, but in a real conversation with an examiner. The entire test is rated on a scale of 0 to 9 points, provided that at least 6 points are usually required. In contrast to the TOEFL, which can also be taken online, the test is carried out exclusively by hand under supervision in a test center.

IELTS levels

  • B1 : 4.0 to 5.0 (5.0 is the boundary between B1 and B2)
  • B2 : 5.0 to 6.5 (5.0 is the boundary between B1 and B2)
  • C1 : 7.0 to 8.0 (8.0 is the limit between C1 and C2)
  • C2 : 8.0 to 9.0 (8.0 is the limit between C1 and C2)

Where can the exam be taken?

You can take the exam up to three times a month at currently 14 locations in Germany (Aachen, Berlin, Bremen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Freiburg, Frankfurt / Main, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig, Mannheim, Munich, Stuttgart). Registration is via the British Council website. The IELTS test fee is 200-210 euros.

You can also take part in the IELTS at numerous language schools abroad . Various German language travel agencies offer special language courses in English-speaking countries where an IELTS certificate can be obtained (see English exam courses )

IELTS preparation

Thorough preparation for the test is very important in order to gain an understanding of the test format. This is why the British Council offers a range of preparation materials for the IELTS exam. The following exercises are recommended for targeted preparation:

  • Completion of the practice tests offered on the Internet, the British Council’s online preparation resources
  • Carrying out the practice tests under test conditions
  • Preparatory language courses at home and abroad
  • Editing of preparation books and relevant literature
  • Observance of the information on the conditions of the test day

IELTS Explanations