The English Language Testing Service (ELTS), as IELTS was then known, was launched in 1980 by Cambridge English Language Assessment (then known as UCLES) and the British Council. It had an innovative format, which reflected changes in language learning and teaching, including the growth in ‘communicative’ language learning and ‘English for specific purposes’. Test tasks were intended to reflect the use of language in the ‘real world’.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organisations across the world.
IELTS Academic and General Training both incorporate the following features:
- IELTS tests the ability to listen, read, write and speak in English.
- The speaking module is a key component of IELTS. It is conducted in the form of a one-to-one interview with an examiner. The examiner assesses the test taker as he or she is speaking. The speaking session is also recorded for monitoring and for re-marking in case of an appeal against the score given.
- A variety of accents and writing styles have been presented in test materials in order to minimise linguistic bias. The accents in the listening section are generally 80% British, Australian, New Zealander and 20% others (mostly American).
- IELTS is developed by experts at Cambridge English Language Assessment with input from item writers from around the world. Teams are located in the USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other English-speaking nations.
- Band scores are used for each language sub-skill (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). The Band Scale ranges from 0 (“Did not attempt the test”) to 9 (“Expert User”).