What does IELTS Stand for?

The IELTS (which stands for International English Language Testing System according to gradinmath) is a standardized test that measures the English proficiency of non-native speakers. It was developed in England over 25 years ago. It is now accepted by many universities around the world, including the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, as proof of English language skills as part of university admission. The IELTS (also known colloquially as the IELTS test) is a joint product of the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the Cambridge English Language Assessment, which is also used for the CAE and theCPE is responsible.

Trial versions of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

There are two IELTS versions:

  • the IELTS Academic
  • the IELTS General Training

Applicants to study abroad usually have to complete the IELTS Academic. The IELTS General Training is mainly used in the area of immigration.

For this reason, this text in the following refers exclusively to the IELTS Academic.

Examination content and test structure of the IELTS

The IELTS Academic tests the four areas of competence:

  • Listening (Listening)
  • Reading (Reading)
  • Writing (Writing)
  • Talk (Speaking).

The IELTS takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes in total.


The listening unit takes 30 minutes to complete. Here the test participants hear various voice recordings from everyday situations and university contexts and then answer questions about them. There are different types of questions, including multiple choice, the completion of sentences, tables or texts and questions that require a freely formulated answer.


The reading exam unit lasts 60 minutes. There are three longer texts to be read from books, magazines or newspapers that do not require any special knowledge in a certain area. As in the listening comprehension unit, the participants then have to answer questions of various kinds about the texts.


The writing examination unit is also 60 minutes long and consists of two tasks. The first task is to describe, summarize, or explain the information in a figure, table, or diagram. The second task involves writing an essay on a point of view, an argument or a problem.


The speaking test section lasts 11 to 14 minutes and is divided into three sections. First, participants answer the examiner’s general questions about everyday topics such as home, family, work, studies, and interests. Then a short lecture is to be given on a specific topic, before further questions are asked on this topic in the last part.

When the speaking exam takes place depends on the test center in which the IELTS is taken. It takes place either on the same day as the exam in the other areas or within a week before or after the exam date.


IELTS rating scale

Each of the four test areas is rated on a scale from 1 (low) to 9 (high) points. The total number of points (Overall Band Score) results from the average of the four individual points.

Similar to the TOEFL, there is no “pass” or “fail” in the IELTS. All universities set their own requirements for the applicant’s score. So here you have to inform yourself in advance in each individual case.

It is possible to repeat the IELTS as often as you like in order to improve the number of points achieved. There is no “blocking time” between the individual attempts.

The IELTS result does not have a fixed period of validity. However, the organizers recommend universities to only recognize the results for two years. Here, too, it is advisable to find out about the conditions of the respective university of your choice in individual cases before taking the test again.

Preparation for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

In order to achieve the best possible result, it is advisable to prepare for the IELTS beforehand. This also applies if the English language skills are already very good. In addition to the language skills, a good understanding of the test structure and the requirements can also influence the result. The British Council offers various learning aids to prepare for the IELTS on the official IELTS website. For example, some practice questions and online tools are available free of charge. There are also fee-based, more detailed learning materials.

Official IELTS website:

IELTS test centers and exam dates

There are numerous test centers around the world where interested parties can take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). In Germany, the test is administered by the British Council and can be taken in 14 German cities. There are also a number of test centers in Austria and Switzerland.

The official IELTS website provides an overview of all test centers and upcoming exam dates. Registration also takes place there. The registration period ends approximately one week before the respective exam date. However, it is advisable to register early as the exam dates can quickly be booked up depending on the time of year and location.

When planning the exam date, you should also take into account the deadlines of the universities to which the test results are to be sent. The test results are usually available less than two weeks after the test.

Costs and payment options

The costs for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) differ depending on the country in which the test is to be taken.

  • In Germany the fee is currently EUR 215.
  • In Austria, test participants pay EUR 200.
  • In Switzerland the cost is CHF 335.

Payment of the fees is possible in Germany and Austria by credit card or bank transfer, in Switzerland it is still possible to pay via Post Office.