Ensuring quality and fairness

Fair to test takers

The IELTS approach is recognised as being fair to all test takers, whatever their nationality, cultural background, gender or special needs.

The IELTS test:

  • provides a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking
  • assesses language skills, not specialist knowledge — topics covered in IELTS vary from test to test and are general enough so that all test takers will be able to answer questions on them
  • is focused on assessing practical communication ability
  • offers a choice of two types, to serve both academic and non-academic purposes
  • features a one-on-one, face-to-face speaking component
  • accepts all standard varieties of native-speaker English, including North American, British, Australian and New Zealand English
  • ensures test questions are extensively trialled with people from different cultures to confirm they are appropriate and fair.

Systems and safeguards to ensure quality

Consistent and secure delivery of the test is ensured by rigorous training and continual monitoring of test locations and examiners.

Ensuring reliability of results

The IELTS test is subject to the highest quality controls, security procedures and integrity management practices.

These safeguards include:

  • detailed code of practice for delivering the test to test takers
  • advanced security measures and stringent procedures for checking test taker identity
  • unique test versions – test takers will never sit the same test twice
  • double marking
  • Test Report Forms that are printed on security-enhanced paper
  • online score verification for organisations through the Results Verification Service

Ensuring consistent assessment of Writing and Speaking tests

  • Both the Writing and Speaking tests are assessed by trained and certificated examiners.
  • Examiners work to clearly defined criteria, are subject to extensive quality control procedures and are qualified English language specialists with substantial relevant teaching experience.
  • Selected Speaking and Writing performances are second-marked by a team of IELTS Principal Examiners/Assistant Principal Examiners and feedback is provided to each examiner.
  • Where there is a significant difference between a test taker’s Writing and/or Speaking score and their Reading and Listening scores, double-marking is carried out.
  • Routine analysis is conducted on each test version to ensure that the performances of test materials, test takers and examiners are in line with expected standards.
  • Test takers who feel that their score does not reflect their performance may apply to have their tests re-marked. An Enquiry on Result (EOR) is re-marked by a senior examiner.