Guide to Scheduling Your IELTS Exam

Guide to Scheduling Your IELTS Exam

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IELTS (the “International English Language Testing System”) is one of the world’s leading English language proficiency tests, with over two million tests taken in the last year. If you want to work, study, or live abroad in an English-speaking country, scoring well on the IELTS can open doors for you all over the world.

Whether you’re at the very end of your IELTS preparation, or you’re still asking yourself “What is IELTS?” this post will guide you through how to schedule your IELTS exam on the day that best suits your needs.


When is the IELTS offered?

There are really two different kinds of IELTS test dates:

·   Global IELTS test dates are the days of the year when a test center can offer the IELTS. There are global IELTS test dates on three Saturdays and one Thursday every month.

·   Local IELTS test dates are the dates on which an individual test center actually does offer the IELTS. Test centers choose how often to offer the IELTS based on local demand – for example, the test center in Tirana, Albania only offers the IELTS on two out of the four Global IELTS test dates.

When scheduling your test, you’ll want to find out the local IELTS test dates that are most convenient for you. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on finding your local IELTS test center and choosing a test date.


What’s the best IELTS test date for you?


When choosing your test date you should consider these four things:

1. When will you be ready to take the IELTS?

It’s important to register for your IELTS test as soon as possible because space is limited in the testing facilities. However, you obviously don’t want to sign for a test date unless you are confident you will be fully prepared to take the IELTS by that time.

Try creating a study plan to help you estimate how long you’ll need to prepare for the IELTS before test day. Once you have an idea of when you’ll be ready for the IELTS, you can start searching for test dates that are available around that time.

2. Where is your local testing center?

The IELTS is offered at over 1,1000 test centers in more than 140 countries, so chances are there will be a test location in your area. You can look up your nearest test center on the IELTS website. On your local test center’s webpage you will find a list of dates that each version of the IELTS is being offered at that location.

If the Global IELTS test date that works best for your schedule isn’t being offered at your local test center, you may have to consider taking the IELTS at a farther away location.

3. Which version of the test are you taking?

There’s also a difference between the dates for the Academic IELTS exam and the General IELTS exam. Specifically, the General IELTS is only offered ¼ as often as the Academic IELTS (once a month for the General IELTS, versus three or four times a month for the Academic IELTS), so if you’re taking the General IELTS you’ll have less flexibility when choosing your test date.

4. Does a Thursday or a Saturday test date work better for your schedule?

A lot of people work or attend school during the week, which is why the IELTS is offered mostly on Saturdays. If you’re lucky enough to have a range of test dates to choose from, you can decide whether Thursday or a Saturday test date is more convenient for you.


How do you register for the IELTS?

Once you’ve decided which date you want to take the IELTS, it’s a good idea to register for your test date, so a spot will be reserved for you.

There are two ways you can register for the IELTS:

·      Online: There are several websites through which you can register for the IELTS. Three of the four main official IELTS websites have a page that allows you to register for the test. Many larger countries where the IELTS is offered (such as China and India) have their own pages just for registering for the exam. Just Google “IELTS [your country] online registration” if you’re not sure which site to use.

·      In person: You can also print out the IELTS registration form, complete it, and mail it to your local IELTS center (or wherever you plan on taking the test).

Once you’ve scheduled your test…

Now that you’re test date is coming up fast, make sure you’re absolutely ready to take the IELTS! Here are some tips for preparing for your test:

·      Familiarize yourself with the format of the test, so you won’t be surprised on test day (make sure you know the differences between the General IELTS and the Academic IELTS…you don’t want to study for the wrong test!)


·      Check out free test prep resources

o   Take a sample test (or more than one!) to get a feel for what kind of questions
you’re going to be asked on the real thing.

o   Learn about specific IELTS sections by checking out free test prep blogs -- like StudyUSA’s post on the General IELTS writing section, or Magoosh’s post on the Academic IELTS writing task 1.

·      Consider enrolling in a preparation course. Not everyone takes a course to prepare for the IELTS, but the structure and guidance of an official test prep course can really help you to improve your score.


When will you get your scores?

Your scores will be available on an official Test Report Form thirteen days after you take the IELTS. Some test centers let you collect your results in person; others will mail it to you. You will only receive one Test Report Form, so keep it safe – you won’t be able to get a replacement.

Test centers can also send copies of your Test Report Form to up to five recognized organizations for you, free of charge, which is great considering you will only be given one official copy of the Test Report Form.

You can preview your results online as soon as they become available, but this preview can’t be used as an “official” record of your scores.   

OK...You’re ready!

Congrats! Hopefully this post gave you all the information you needed to schedule your IELTS test date. But if you have more questions – or are struggling with the paperwork – don’t be afraid to find out more about IELTS registration!


By Molly Kiefer

Molly completed her undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has been tutoring the SAT, GRE, and LSAT since 2014, and loves supporting her students as they work towards their academic goals. When she’s not tutoring or blogging for Magoosh, Molly takes long walks, makes art, and studies ethics. Molly currently lives in Northern California with her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.