What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is jointly owned by British Council; IDP IELTS; and Cambridge University Press & Assessment. It is designed to assess the English language proficiency of those wishing to move, study or work in a country where English is the main language of communication. The IELTS test assesses your ability to read, write, listen, and speak in English and is graded on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest).

Which test should I take?

IELTS scores are accepted by thousands of organisations worldwide, including universities, employers and professional registering bodies. If you are unsure which test to take, you should speak to the organisation that has requested an IELTS test from you and ask which one they require. Please bear in mind that it is the test taker's responsibility to select the correct module. Test takers also need to contact receiving organisations to ensure that that they are sure of the correct entry requirements.

Your choice of test will depend on whether you wish to study or work in your chosen country. As a general guide:

  • The Academic test is for people who want to study an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course in an English-speaking country, apply for a Student Route visa (Tier 4) to study at a university in the UK or register with a professional body.
  • The General Training test is designed to measure English skills in a broader social and educational context. This module is suitable if you are joining a training programme below degree level or you are wishing to work in an English-speaking country. The General Training test is suitable for those wishing to emigrate to countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.


If you are looking to work or study in the UK you might need to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT), for example, IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) (academic or general training) or IELTS Life Skills.

UKVI and Life Skills tests must be taken under controlled conditions at an authorised UKVI IELTS test location. SELT test takers will receive an IELTS for UKVI or IELTS Life Skills test report form that shows that their test has met these requirements.

Find out if you need to take an approved SELT test, which test you should take, and what level you need to achieve, you should visit. Further information is also available on the UKVI website.

Please note that we do not offer IELTS for UKVI at The University of Manchester IELTS test centre.

For further information of the test taker journey, from registration and preparation to test format and results, please read the IELTS information to candidates booklet.

IELTS on computer or IELTS on paper?

IELTS on computer test takers complete the listening, reading and writing sections on a computer at The University of Manchester test centre. Candidates use headphones to complete the listening section. Answers are submitted using a keyboard and a mouse. The Speaking section is completed with a trained IELTS examiner face-to-face and not on computer. Results are generally available online 2 to 5 days after the test.

For the paper test, test takers write their answers for the listening, reading and writing with a pen or pencil on a paper answer sheet. The audio for the listening test is played through a sound system and headphones are not provided. The test day staff will check that all test takers can hear the audio before starting the listening test. The Speaking section is completed face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. Results for IELTS on paper are available online 13 days after the test. Paper test report forms are posted out to candidates to the address provided to the centre.