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Ensuring quality and fairness

IELTS is recognised and trusted by individuals and organisations worldwide for its fairness, reliability and high quality standards

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. Test takers can feel confident that 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; the topics covered are general enough for  all test takers will be able to answer questions on them
  • is focused on assessing practical communication ability
  • serves both academic and non-academic purposes through a choice of two versions
  • features a one-on-one, face-to-face speaking component
  • recognises all standard varieties of native-speaker English, including North American and British
  • ensures test questions are extensively trialled with people from different cultures to confirm they are appropriate and fair.

Find out more about the test format

Systems and safeguards to ensure quality

We ensure that delivery of the test is both consistent and secure through rigorous training and continual monitoring of test centres and examiners.

Ensuring reliability of results

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

  • stringent procedures for checking and verifying test taker identity
  • unique test versions - test takers will never sit the same test twice
  • double marking
  • printing Test Report Forms on security-enhanced paper
  • an online Results Verification Service

Learn more about how the test is developed

Ensuring consistent assessment of Writing and Speaking tests

  • Writing and Speaking tests are assessed by trained and certificated examiners
  • Examiners are qualified English language specialists, with substantial relevant teaching experience, working to clearly defined criteria and  subject to extensive quality control procedures
  • Selected Speaking and Writing performances are second-marked by a team of IELTS principal examiners/assistant principal examiners who provide feedback 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 scores do not reflect their performance may apply to have their tests re-marked by a senior examiner.

Find out more about IELTS examiner recruitment and training