IELTS (International English Language System)

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a standardized test that measures the English language skills of non-native speakers. It was developed 25 years ago in England. In the meantime, it has been accepted by many universities around the world, including in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, as proof of English language skills within the framework of university admission. The IELTS (collectively also known as the IELTS test) is a joint product of the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the Cambridge English Language Assessment, which is also responsible for CAE and CPE.

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

There are two versions of IELTS:

  • the IELTS Academic
  • the IELTS General Training

Applicants for studies abroad usually have to complete the IELTS Academic. The IELTS General Training is mainly applied in the area of immigration.

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

Test contents and test structure of the IELTS

The IELTS Academic examines the four areas of competence:

  • Listening comprehension (Listening)
  • Read (Reading)
  • Writing (Writing)
  • Speaking (Speaking).

The IELTS takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes.


The Listening session takes 30 minutes. Here, the test participants hear different speech 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 examination unit in the Reading area lasts 60 minutes. There are three longer texts from books, magazines or newspapers that do not require any special knowledge of a particular field. As with the listening comprehension unit, the participants have to answer questions of different kinds.


The writing test unit is also 60 minutes long and consists of two tasks. The first task consists of describing, summarising or explaining the information from an illustration, table or diagram. The second task is to write 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 general questions about everyday topics such as home, family, work, studies and interests. Afterwards, a short lecture is to be given on a specific topic, before further questions are asked in the last part of this topic.

When the Speaking examination takes place depends on the test centre where IELTS is taken. It takes place either on the same day as the examination in the other areas or within one week before or after the examination date.

Rating scale of the IELTS

Each of the four test areas is rated on a scale from 1 (low) to 9 (high) points. The overall band score is the average of the four individual scores.

Similar to TOEFL, there is no „passed“ or „failed“ at IELTS. All universities set their own requirements for the number of applicants. Here you have to inform yourself in advance in each individual case.

It is possible to repeat the IELTS as often as you like to improve the score. There is no „blocking period“ between the individual attempts.

The IELTS result has no fixed validity period. However, the organisers recommend that universities only recognise the results for two years. It is also advisable to inform yourself about the conditions of the university of your choice before you take the test again.

bPreparation for 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 linguistic skills, a good understanding of the test structure and requirements can also influence the result. On the official IELTS website, the British Council offers various learning aids to prepare for IELTS. For example, some practice questions and online tools are available free of charge. In addition, there are also more detailed learning materials with costs.

Official website of the IELTS:

Test centres and examination dates of the IELTS

There are numerous test centres all over 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 centres in Austria and Switzerland.

The official IELTS website provides an overview of all test centres and upcoming exam dates. There you can also register. The registration period ends approximately one week before the respective examination date. However, it is advisable to register early, as the examination dates can be booked out quickly depending on the season and location.

When planning the examination date, account should also be taken of the deadlines of the universities to which the test results are to be transmitted. The test results are usually available almost two weeks after the test.

Costs and payment options

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

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

Payment of the fees is possible in Germany and Austria by credit card or bank transfer, in Switzerland there is still the possibility of payment via Post Office.