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Working and Living in Australia: International English Language Test System (IELTS)


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International English Language Test System (IELTS)

If you are emigrating on any of the General Skilled Migration visas, you’ll need to prove your English language proficiency by sitting a test. Passing the International English Language Test System (IELTS) is an important step in coming to Australia to work and live. Passport holders of English speaking countries - UK, Republic of Ireland, USA, Canada or New Zealand – usually don’t have to take this exam.

What is IELTS?

IELTS is an acronym for International English Language Testing System. It is a required part of the immigration process for anyone wanting to live and work in Australia. Your English language proficiency is tested as part of your visa application process.

What is involved in IELTS testing?

The IELTS test covers four parts of English language fluency and takes nearly three hours to complete. The following sections and the time allotted for each one during the test are:

  • Listening – 30 minutes
  • Reading – 60 minutes
  • Writing – 60 minutes
  • Speaking – 11 to 14 minutes

Make no mistake; this is a rigorous test requiring education and preparation if you are not a native speaker of the English language. There is a 9-band scale of proficiency. The two hardest - ‘competent’ and ‘vocational’ – are required for skilled migration to Australia.

What’s on the IELTS test?

It’s a good idea to review samples of IELTS questions before you actually sit for the exam. You can also order practice materials from Australia for about $50 which will help you prepare.

IELTS respects international diversity and is fair to anyone who sits the test, regardless of nationality. It’s worth noting, however, IELTS aggressively and persistently prosecutes people trying to obtain fraudulent IELTS tests. If you are caught, your employment and immigration will be jeopardised.

More information about the test is available from the IELTS website.

Who’s behind IELTS?

IELTS is joint project owned by:

  • British Council
  • IELTS Australia and the
  • University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL)

The organisation supports more than 800 testing centres. You can take an IELTS test in over 130 countries. For well over 20 years, IELTS is recognised as the most reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English. Globally, over 6000 organisations and more than 1.5 million people have taken the test.

Other useful information can be found in our Visas to Work and Live in Australia section. 

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