There are many language certificates available for non-native learners of English, and it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally-recognised credential that many learners choose in order to study or live abroad.
The test takes three hours and consists of four parts: listening (40 mins), reading (60 mins), writing (60 mins), and speaking (16 mins). All parts are taken on the same day. The IELTS test has two different versions: Academic and General Training. Both versions of the exam measure your skills on a scale of 1 to 9 (“non-user” to “expert user”). Unlike other exams such as the Cambridge FCE (B1) or CAE exams (C2), which are designed for specific levels of English, no minimum score is required to pass the IELTS test.
Your IELTS score is valid for two years. However, you can repeat the test afterwards as many times as you would like. It is accepted by most British, Canadian, Irish, Australian, and New Zealand academic institutions, in addition to many United States colleges and other international organisations. Moreover, the IELTS is valid for immigration to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. In the UK case, it is the only language test approved by UK Visas and Immigration.
So, which exam to take? The obvious answer is: the exam that you’re required to take in your situation. If your intention is to study/live in an English-speaking country, the IELTS exam is likely to be right for you.