Statement regarding ABC Radio program Background Briefing

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Background Briefing program on 22 May 2011 highlighted that candidates are attempting to cheat in IELTS tests to gain higher band scores needed for immigration and residency in Australia.

The program found no evidence that attempts to cheat had been successful. This is despite a promotional trailer for the program implying that ways to cheat had been uncovered.

IELTS actively participated in the program to send a message to candidates who may be considering attempts to cheat. During the course of the full radio program it becomes clear that the varied attempts to cheat will be foiled by the IELTS security systems.

The program highlighted many of the features of IELTS, including rigorous systems for recruiting, training and managing IELTS examiners and the close working relationships with the government departments and other organisations that use and rely on IELTS scores.

IELTS clearly states:

  • IELTS has highly effective security and quality control systems to prevent and detect attempted fraud and cheating. Security screening and procedures before, on and following test days are designed to take account of a full range of techniques that could be applied as part of a fraud attempt.
  • Fraudsters claim to be able to help candidates to achieve better results, or will try to sell fake question papers. This is an attempt to exploit innocent candidates, leaving them vulnerable to serious legal consequences. IELTS collaborates actively with public authorities in many countries to counter this criminal activity.
  • The development of IELTS tests is based on extensive research to ensure that each test is a valid and reliable measure of English language proficiency for education, migration or professional accreditation purposes. The test continues to be effectively used for immigration purposes in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
  • The test is of consistent difficulty wherever and whenever it is taken – IELTS is not an easy test however it is designed to be fair.
  • Candidates cannot improve their scores simply by taking the test over and over again within a short time period. To improve their scores, candidates must improve their English language skills. Improving language skills is a slow and intensive process. This is important information that was not addressed in Background Briefing.
  • IELTS is a high stakes test and life-changing opportunities can depend on results gained in the test. Security is a matter that IELTS takes very seriously. Participation in stories such as Background Briefing is demonstration of the commitment of IELTS to quality, integrity and transparency.