IELTS ‘English Language Testing System', is an international standardized test of English language proficiency. It is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd, and was established in 1989.
There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version:
- The Academic Version is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
- The General Training Version is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organizations. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
No minimum score is required to pass the test. An IELTS result or Test Report Form is issued to all candidates with a score from 1 (no knowledge) to 9 (expert user) and each institution sets a different threshold. Institutions are advised not to consider valid a report older than two years, unless the user proves that he has worked to maintain his level.
In 2007, IELTS tested over a million candidates in a single 12-month period for the first time ever, making it the world's most popular English language test for higher education and immigration.
In 2009, 1.4 million candidates took the IELTS test in over 130 countries.