IELTS for International Students

IELTS for International Students

The IELTS is short for International English Language Testing System. IELTS for international students is a really important test worldwide. It shows how good you are at English.

If you are not a native English speaker and you want to live, work, or study in an English-speaking place, you might have to take this test.

If you are planning to study at a college or university in the U.S., you will probably need to take the IELTS Academic version. Your scores can help you prove that you are good at English for academic stuff. 

In this article, we will discuss more about IELTS for international students. Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • The IELTS is a test that checks how good you are at English
  • IELTS is used by many countries and universities around the world.
  • It has four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
  • Your score is between 1 and 9.
  • The cost of the IELTS exam can vary. It depends on where you take it, but it is around 250 to 350 euros.
  • You can take the IELTS test in different ways, either at a test center or online from home.
  • If you need to change or cancel your test, you might get some of your money back. But it depends on how soon you do it.
  • To prepare for the IELTS exam, you should practice writing, speaking, reading, and listening in English.
  • Some universities in the USA do not require you to take the IELTS test if you meet certain criteria.
  • There are scholarships available for students who do well on the IELTS test. This can help you with school fees and living expenses.

What is the IELTS for International Students?

The IELTS exam shows how good you are at English. It is run by the British Council, IDP IELTS, and Cambridge University Press & Assessment. They made it to see if you can use English in a school-like setting. 

As an international student, this is important if you want to study for a degree in places like the U.S., the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, or Australia. Lots of places all over the world recognize the IELTS for international students.

Why Do International Students Choose the IELTS Exam?

Here are the top reasons why IELTS is the top choice among international students:

  • IELTS is accepted by lots of important groups worldwide. This includes schools, immigration offices, and professional associations. Your scores can show how good you are at English, whether you are applying for a job or moving to a new country.
  • If you are moving to a country where they speak a different language, you need a language test that the government trusts. IELTS is the one trusted by immigration offices in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
  • You can take the IELTS almost anywhere in the world. There are lots of test centers in over 140 countries. You would not have to travel far to take the test.
  • IELTS tests four important parts of language: speaking, writing, listening, and reading. You get a score for each part, and your overall score is an average of them. So, it is important to practice all parts of English, not just the ones you are good at.
  • If you have a good IELTS score, it can help you get better job opportunities. Employers like to see that you are good at English because it shows you are serious about your studies and can communicate well.

IELTS Exam Structure 

The IELTS test has four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. You will do the listening, reading, and writing parts all on the same day. 

But, the speaking part usually happens a week before or after. So, for listening, reading, and writing, you get two hours and 45 minutes altogether. Here’s how the test breaks down:

1. Listening

In the listening part of the test, it takes about 30 minutes. You will hear four things:

  • A casual chat between two people.
  • Someone is talking alone, like giving a speech.
  • A talk between a few people in a school-like place.
  • A speech about a school subject.

This part checks how well you understand what you hear. It is about catching the main ideas, facts, feelings, and opinions. You will also follow how the ideas are explained when people talk.

2. Reading

In the reading part of the test, it lasts for 60 minutes. You will face 40 questions to test your reading skills. You need to understand the main ideas in the text. 

It is important to know how to read quickly to get the main points and also read carefully to understand all the details. You will also need to figure out the writer’s thoughts and feelings from the text.

3. Writing

The writing part of the test goes on for 60 minutes. It is of two types: General and Academic Writing. You will do two types of writing tasks:

  • Task 1: You will explain, describe, or summarize info from a graph, chart, diagram, or table using your own words.
  • Task 2: You will write an essay about a specific problem, argument, or point of view.

4. Speaking

The speaking part of the test takes around 11 to 14 minutes. There are three parts to it:

  • Part 1: You will answer questions about yourself and things you know about.
  • Part 2: You will talk about a specific topic. You will have one minute to prepare and then two minutes to speak.
  • Part 3: You will answer questions about the topic you talked about in Part 2.

How Is The IELTS Exam Scored?

The IELTS uses a band score system to grade your test. Each part of the test gets its score from one to nine, with half-point increments. Here is what each score means:

  • You are not using English.
  • You use English sometimes.
  • You cannot use English much.
  • You can use English, but not a lot.
  • You are okay with English.
  • You are pretty good at English.
  • You are good at English.
  • You are extremely good at English.
  • You are like an English expert.

At the end of your test, you will get four scores. These four scores will be added together and then averaged to give you an overall score. 

If your average score ends in .25, it gets rounded up to the nearest half-point. If it ends in .5, it gets rounded up to the nearest whole point.

When you are trying to get into university, most schools want you to have at least a 6.5 overall score, and each section should be no lower than 5.5. 

If you do not get a high enough score, you will know which parts of English you need to work on. 

Maybe you did well in listening and reading, but not so great in writing and speaking. If you do not agree with your scores, you can ask a senior examiner to take another look.

How Much Does the IELTS Exam Cost?

The cost of the IELTS can change. It depends on which country you are in. Here are some examples of how much it costs in certain countries in 2024:

  • Brazil: 840 BRL
  • Canada: CA $319
  • China: NTD 7,000
  • Denmark: DKK 1,895
  • Finland: EUR 250
  • France: EUR 235
  • Germany: EUR 229
  • India: 13,250 INR
  • Iran: IRR 30,500,000
  • Italy: EUR 238
  • Japan: 25,380 JPY
  • Mexico: MXN 3,600
  • Netherlands: EUR 225
  • Norway: NOK 2,950/3,000
  • Spain: EUR 220
  • Sweden: SEK 2,500
  • Switzerland: CHF 369

How to Take the IELTS Exam?

You can take the IELTS test in different ways. Let’s have a look at them:

  • At a test center with pen and paper, on a computer at a test center, or online from home. Most people prefer the online option, which is available in many countries.
  • If you choose to take the test online, real people will supervise you during the listening, reading, and writing parts. For the speaking part, you will talk to a live examiner through video chat.
  • If you go to a test center, they will give you everything you need. But if you are taking it at home, make sure you have a computer, good internet, and some specific apps installed.
  • During the test, your computer will be locked, and you cannot use anything else. Make sure your room is quiet and private, and do not have any extra stuff nearby.
  • After the test, you will get your results in about 13 days for the pen-and-paper test and a few days for the online one. You will be able to see your results online, and they will mail you an official copy if you need it.
  • If you do not do well, you can take the test again whenever you are ready. Just remember, if you want a better score, you will need to practice and improve your English skills.

How To Cancel or Reschedule the IELTS Exam?

If you need to change or cancel your test, here is how it works:

  • If you cancel more than 14 days before the test, you will get back 75% of what you paid.
  • If it is between six and 14 days before, you will get back 50%.
  • But if it is five days or less, sorry, no refund.

You can change the test date more than 14 days before it’s supposed to happen, but you will usually have to pay 25% of the original fee.

Please make sure the new date is within three months of the original one. If it is longer than that, it counts as canceling. And you cannot change the date if it’s less than two weeks away. That’s also treated as canceling.

How To Prepare for the IELTS Exam?

To get ready for the IELTS test, you will need to spend some time practicing. How much time depends on how good you are at English right now. 

It is a good idea to start preparing at least two to four weeks before your test date. You can find practice tests and other helpful stuff on

You must make a plan for studying and stick to it. That way, you will be ready when it is time for your test.

Study tips weeks before the IELTS

In your IELTS study plan, make sure to do the following:

  • Practice writing in English within a specific time limit.
  • Take notes in English to improve your skills.
  • Talk to yourself in English and practice speaking with anyone who speaks the language.
  • Read English stuff like news articles, blogs, and books.
  • Watch English shows, and movies, and listen to radio, videos, and podcasts.
  • Learn a new word every day.
  • Before the real test, do practice tests to get used to the format and types of questions.
  • Treat practice tests like the real thing by checking answers and timing yourself.

Study tips for the day of the IELTS

Before your test, try to use English as much as possible. On test day, follow these tips:

  • Arrive early at the test center so you have time to register and get ready. 
  • If you are taking the test at home, make sure your space is set up before it starts.
  • Read all the instructions carefully before you begin.
  • Stick to a study routine to make the most of your time. 
  • Take breaks so you do not get exhausted.
  • Keep an eye on the time during the test. There will be a clock on the wall in the test center, or on the screen if you are taking the test online.
  • After each section, review your answers before moving on. You will have time to check. But once you move on, you cannot go back.

How to Study in USA Colleges without IELTS?

If you are thinking about studying in the US without taking the IELTS test, you might still have options. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Some universities in the US do not always ask for an IELTS score if you have studied in a country where English is the main language.
  2. Sometimes, these universities might want you to join special English classes first, such as the Intensive English Language Program.
  3. If you are applying for a master’s degree, you might need a letter from your old school saying you studied in English.
  4. You can also join summer programs in the US to improve your English before starting your studies, even if you do not have an IELTS or TOEFL score.

List of Universities & Colleges in the USA Without IELTS Exam

Here are some of the universities and colleges in the USA that accept students without the IELTS exam:

US Universities without IELTS examAlternate exams to give in 2024
University of DaytonPTE / Duolingo
Northwood UniversityEIKEN / IB/ Cambridge English Test / ELS / PTE Academic
University of DelawareEnglish Language for Internationals (ELI)
State University of New YorkPTE / Duolingo / Cambridge English Scale
University of New Orleans (UNO)English Language for Internationals (ELI)
University of ColoradoDuolingo
California UniversityPTE
Rice UniversityDuolingo
Drexel UniversityJoining the University Preparation Summer Program or FCBP Program
National Louis UniversityPTE
University of IowaTOEFL / On-campus English Proficiency Evaluation (EPE)
University of North AlabamaTOEIC

Top Universities in the USA Without IELTS Exam

Here are some top universities in the USA where you can apply without taking the IELTS test. These colleges do not need you to have an IELTS score:

1. Drexel University

Drexel University
Drexel University

Drexel University is a private school with over 26,000 students and lots of different programs to choose from. If you are an international student who does not want to take the IELTS or TOEFL tests, there are two ways you can still study at Drexel:

  1. You can join the University Preparation Summer Program.
  2. You can enroll in the FCBP program.

To study for a master’s degree at Drexel, you need to have finished one year of college already.

2. University of Colorado Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder
University of Colorado Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder is a great school in the USA. If you want to study there without taking the IELTS test, you need to show that:

  • You are from a country where English is spoken
  • You have studied for a year in the US as a student
  • You have finished two years of school in an English-speaking country

Also, instead of the IELTS, you can take the Duolingo English test to get accepted at the University of Colorado.

3. University of Dayton

University of Dayton
University of Dayton

The University of Dayton is known for its great programs at different levels. They have undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral courses. 

They even have a special program where you can get both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at the same time.

If you want to join the University of Dayton without taking the IELTS, you can do an Intensive English Language Program (ELP) there. Another option is to take the PTE or Duolingo tests instead of the IELTS.

4. California State University, Los Angeles

At California State University, Los Angeles, they are known for their great education and helping the community. If you went to a school where English was the main language, you do not have to give your IELTS scores when you apply.

5. Rice University

Rice University is one of the top schools in the USA. If you have already finished a degree where English was the main language, you might not need to take the IELTS test. You can ask the admissions office if they can waive these tests for you.

6. University of Iowa

The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa

University of Iowa offers over 200 majors. It is one of the best universities in the USA.  If you want to study at this prestigious university, you may not need to take the IELTS. They accept international students who can understand English well enough for their classes.

Can You Get Scholarships for Universities in the USA without the IELTS Exam?

If you are thinking about taking the IELTS or already did and want to study in the USA for free, we have got some options for you. 

If you are aiming for a Master’s degree in the USA without the IELTS, do not worry. Here are some scholarships you can check out and apply for:

Fulbright Scholarship

The Fulbright scholarship is paid for by the US government. It is given to both graduates and professionals. Every year, about 4,000 students get this scholarship and go to study in the USA without needing IELTS. It is a fantastic opportunity if you are thinking about studying in America.

Aga Khan Foundation Scholarship

The Aga Khan Foundation’s International Scholarship Programme is for people from countries that are still developing. They want to help students like you who need support for their studies.

This scholarship gives priority to young professionals who are under 30 years old. So if you are thinking about applying, please keep the age factor in mind. It could be a great opportunity for you to get help with your education.


IDP IELTS Prize is a special scholarship program by IDP Education. It is a group that helps students study abroad. They give it to students like you who do well on the IELTS test, scoring 7.5 or higher.

This scholarship gives you money to help pay for school and living costs while you study in a country where English is the main language. You could get up to $5,000 as a one-time payment, Also you can get some extra cash for things like travel, rent, and books, etc.

You can use this money for lots of different study programs, like college degrees, language courses, or professional training. It is a great way to help with your education expenses.

The IELTS Academic Excellence Scholarship

The IELTS Academic Excellence Scholarship is a special award for students from other countries who do well on the IELTS test. The British Council and IDP Education Australia are the ones who give it out.

This scholarship is meant to encourage students like you to pursue your education in places like the UK, US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. 

If you win, you could get up to £2,000 (or the same amount in your local money). You can use this cash for school fees, rent, and other school-related stuff. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which IELTS is required for international students?

If you are thinking about higher education or getting a professional job, you can take the IELTS Academic test. But if you are planning to study in high school, work, or move to an English-speaking country, the IELTS General Training test might be the one for you. It all depends on what you want to do.

2. Do all international students need IELTS?

If you have been taught English all along and have good grades, the school might not need you to take the IELTS test. It is all about how well you have done in English and your grades.

3. Is 7.5 IELTS easy to score?

Getting a 7.5 score on the IELTS exam is pretty good because the test is challenging. Some say it is a good enough score for schools like Harvard or the University of British Columbia.

4. Who is eligible for IELTS?

Anyone who is at least 16 years old can take the IELTS exam anywhere in the world. It does not matter if you are a boy or a girl, where you are from, or what you have done before. The only time there might be a rule is if a school wants your IELTS scores for admission.

5. Can I get a visa without IELTS?

You can get a study visa even if you do not take the IELTS test. Some countries allow it if you have good grades and meet their other requirements.


When you want to study in the U.S., being good at English is super important. It is not just about getting into the school you want, but also about making the most of your time there. 

The IELTS for international students is a great test to help you figure out how good you are at English and what you need to work on if you are not there yet.

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