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HFS Language Lab: IELTS 

If you’re visiting the UK to study, chances are that you already speak some English. However, if you’re looking to improve your English skills and eventually prove your expertise with a qualification, sitting the IELTS exam and gaining the certification may be a positive step for you.  

If you’d like to study for the IELTS exam and sit it whilst in the UK, speak to your study centre and enquire what options they can offer during your stay in London. In the meantime, read on to judge whether this examination is the right one for you. 

What is IELTS? 

IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System, and is the most popular English language proficiency test in the world for non-native English speakers looking to prove their skills. It is a qualification required by many organisations worldwide, including universities and colleges, government departments and immigration authorities, professional associations and multinational companies and employers. Over 3,000,000 people take an IELTS test every year. 

Where can I sit the IELTS exam?

IELTS is accredited by the British Council, who promote cultural and educational opportunities all over the world. The IELTS exam can be sat in their offices (of which there are some in London, but also in other major world cities and capitals) or at any accredited study centre – basically, somewhere that fits the British Council’s standards and has been given permission to host the exams. Test centres can be found in over 1,600 locations spanning 140 countries. Find out how to apply for IELTS here

What does the IELTS test cover?

There are two types of IELTS test, and which you sit should be determined by what you need it for. The IELTS General Training test covers conversational English is everyday social and professional situations, and the IELTS Academic test takes this further to include academic language suitable for higher educational studying or training. Both include aspects of speaking, listening, reading and writing English, to ensure that those who pass are both well understood and can demonstrate understanding. 

What format does the IELTS test take?

The listening, reading and writing parts of the test all take place back-to-back and last in total about 2.5 hours. The speaking test can be completed immediately thereafter, but requires a different type of examiner; so some study centres instead allow students to sit this part of the exam later on (and it can be done up to 7 days after the rest). The speaking portion of the exam takes up to 15 minutes. 

Why should I take IELTS? 

Everyone’s reasons for taking IELTS are different, but if you wish to demonstrate your English language skills, it’s very much the ‘go-to’ level qualification. Employers all over the world often request an IELTS pass as minimum language level and lots of government departments and immigration authorities in English-speaking countries require this too. 

At present, you don’t need to have an IELTS qualification to enter the UK for studying purposes (so you may study for it and take the exam during your stay), but requirements change all the time and it’s still too early to say what impact Brexit may have on such stipulations. 

If you’d like to speak to another overseas student who has already taken the IELTS exam or would like more information on what is involved in studying for and taking the exam, get in touch with the HFS London team. Whilst not all students choosing to study and homestay in the UK decide take the IELTS exam, many do; and we can help you make a decision on whether you’d like to, too.  

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