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What you should know about IELTS

1. Assistance for special needs

If you have a disability or condition which might require special arrangements, you should discuss it with your IDP IELTS test centre as soon as possible. Each case is considered individually and you will need a current medical certificate from a specialist. Depending on your requirements, test centres will require three months to put arrangements into place. Special arrangements include the following:

  • A4 enlarged print (usually 18 point bold) and Braille test papers, an amanuensis to write answers, a Braille word-processor – for those with visual difficulties.
  • Special amplification equipment, lip-reading version of the Listening module – for those with hearing difficulties.
  • Extra time for the Reading and Writing modules, use of a word processor – for those with learning difficulties (eg dyslexia).

Once you have booked your IELTS Test, please contact your local test centre immediately to advise them of your special requirements.

For more information on Special Circumstances please visit the Cambridge English Language Assessment Special Circumstances website.

2.Before you test

Five to seven days before your test you will receive an email message and/or SMS to confirm your test details. This will include the date, time and location of both your Listening/Reading/Writing test and your Speaking test. Maps to the test venue locations will also be included.  

Ensure that your email account security is set to accept emails from IDP. Please contact your test centre if you do not receive a confirmation email.

As you approach your test day ensure you remain organised. Here are some tips:

  • Review your preparation materials in the lead up to your test day.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the test venue locations and transport options before test day so that you arrive on time.
  • Get your bag ready. Make sure that you have ready your passport, stationary, reading glasses, water in a clear bottle, and all other necessary items for the test the night before.
  • Rest and relax - get plenty of rest the night before your test.
  • Eat and drink well. You can keep your mind active by eating healthily and regularly.

3.Tips and requirements for test day!

All candidates taking the IELTS test outside of their country of origin must present with a valid & original passport on all their test days. Your passport must be valid at the time you take the test. If you do not bring your passport, you cannot attend the test. Certified copies will not be accepted. Driver's licences, national ID cards, student cards, birth certificates, and any other forms of identification will not be accepted. If you have changed your passport, please inform us before the test day.

What can I bring into the test room?

  • Passport
  • HB pencil, eraser and sharpener
  • Water in a CLEAR plastic bottle (No labels)

What can't I bring into the test room?

  • Digital devices (mobile phones, iPods etc.)
  • Analogue and digital watches
  • Wallets and keys
  • Jackets, hoodies, scarves, gloves
  • Baseball caps, beanies, hats or hoods
  • Cases for pens or glasses
  • Pieces of paper
  • Highlighters, rulers and correction fluid
  • Any cans or coloured liquids
  • Food of any kind


  • Set your alarm early to allow for enough time in the morning to cope with any unforeseen issues, so that you can be as relaxed as possible for your test. Plan to arrive at the test centre 15 minutes before the registration starting time.
  • On the morning of an exam, make sure you eat breakfast.
  • Remember to wear warm clothes such a cardigans, jumper, sweater, pullover or jersey.
  • Arrive at the test centre before the scheduled test start time. If you arrive late, you will not be admitted to the test room, you will not be allowed to take any of the test components and you will not be eligible for a refund or transfer.
  • Personal belongings other than stationery will not be permitted into the exam room. You will be provided with a complimentary mechanical pencil with eraser.
  • Please use the bathroom before you register. Once inside the test room you may go to the bathroom once the writing test has begun (9:15 AM approx.). However, you will not be allowed to go to the toilet at all during the last 10 minutes of the Reading test or during the duration of the Listening test (from approx.11:00 AM).
  • Drink lots of water. If you don’t drink enough you could dehydrate and you may suffer from headaches, tiredness and poor concentration. Water will not be provided, so please take your own.
  • If you feel nervous take deep breaths. Taking several long, slow, deep breaths will help to calm you down and help you feel more relaxed.
  • Make sure you read each question carefully and listen to instructions given by the invigilators. Ask an invigilator if you are unsure.
  • If your mind goes blank, don't panic! Put your pen down and go back to taking several long, slow, deep breaths until you feel more relaxed again. Eventually you will settle down again and you will be able to continue with your questions.
  • If you find that you are stuck on a question, take a deep breath, move on to the next question and come back to the other question later when you have more time to concentrate on difficult questions.
  • Do not waste all of your time on one question when there are others you could easily answer.
  • During the writing, make sure you divide your test time according to the marks allocated for each task.
  • You cannot leave the test room until after the test has finished.
  • If you try to gain an unfair advantage over other candidates, copy the work of another candidate, disrupt the test, take an electronic device or mobile phone into the room, you will be removed from the test room and you will not receive your results.

Please read the full IELTS Test and Payments Terms & Conditions.

4. Info about the Listening / Reading / Writing Test

The Writing, Reading and Listening components are usually conducted on Thursdays or Saturdays.

If you are taking the test in one of our Australian Centres, the Writing component will be conducted first, followed by the Reading Component. The Listening component is conducted last.

The Writing/Reading/Listening test is approximately 3 hours in duration, and registration usually starts at 8am. No latecomers are allowed into the test room once the test commences. In the interests of keeping your test experience as stress-free as possible, please do not make any plans until mid-afternoon on test day.

The location for this part of the test is released once all applications have been processed. We will notify you of the test location by email, but can confirm that we normally conduct our tests at venues centrally located.

If you have not received this information 3 days before the test date, please contact us immediately.

5. Info about the Speaking Test

Your Speaking test is approximately 11-14 minutes in duration. It may be held the same day after your Listening/Reading/Writing test, or on a weekday before or after the Listening/Reading/Writing test during business hours. Check your test location page for more details before you book. 

All details including venue, date and time for your Speaking Test will be provided to you in your confirmation email.

Please note: IDP IELTS Test Centres generally do not provide a personal preference for Speaking Test dates and times. Speaking tests are usually conducted at the Test Centre itself which is centrally located in most cases.

To ensure we can conduct tests on time for all candidates, please make sure you arrive at your Speaking Test no later than 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. Only with a medical certificate or extraordinary circumstances can you change your allocated test time.

If you have not received this information 3 days before the test date, please contact us immediately.

6. Do I take all parts of the test on the same day? Which part do I take first? 

If you are taking your test in Australia with IDP IELTS then the Listening, Reading and Writing (LRW) components will be delivered on a Thursday or Saturday morning in one block; and the Speaking component will be delivered up to 7 days either before or after. For more information contact your preferred test location - click here.

7. Information about identity verification

If you are taking your test in Australia at an IDP IELTS test centre you will be required to use a valid passport when booking your test and then at each test day.Your original and valid passport is the only acceptable form of identification. If you are an Australian citizen or a refugee who does not have a passport, please contact us before booking your test. Your identity will be verified either at the test registration or on the test day, or at both times.

The process has been developed to meet or exceed the increasing test security expectations of key stakeholders (such as universities, government bodies, immigration authorities of Australia, Canada, UK and US).

This will include:

- Having your photograph taken.

- The photograph taken by the test centre will appear on the Test Report Form (you will be required to temporarily remove any covering from your face)

- Having your finger-scan taken (persons under the age of 18 excluded).

Why does IELTS now require the capturing of a photo and finger-scan?

- Greater reassurance for stakeholders regarding the reliability of the results

- Increased protection for genuine candidates

- Ensuring the candidate who sat the test is the person pictured on the Test Report Form (TRF)

- Ensuring the same person sits all components

What is finger scan? Is it different from fingerprint scan?
A finger-scan is different to a finger-print. The identity verification process collects a finger-scan as opposed to a finger-print. The finger scan is stored as a binary blob made up of number (1, 0 etc). An actual image of the finger-scan is not stored.

What security measures does IELTS take with my finger scan to ensure my privacy?
Every IELTS Test centre will take the necessary steps to comply with Privacy Protection legislation.

What can I expect on the test day, and how will my finger scan and photograph be used?

- You will have your initial photograph and finger-scan captured usually when you arrive to the venue for your Speaking test. This process takes approximately 1 minute.

- Verification is once again conducted at every entrance to a testing room. The finger scan will be matched every time you leave and return to the testing room.

- Your photograph will be shown on the Test Report Form.

- The finger-scan data obtained will not be disclosed to any entity except the IELTS Test Partners.

If you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact us.

8. Request for refund or test date transfer

If you seek to cancel or transfer your test registration you must do so five weeks or more before the test date. If your application for a cancellation is approved, the test centre will charge an administration fee of 25% of the total test fee.

If your application for a transfer is approved, you must select a test date within the next three-month period and this will be approved depending on availability for the selected test date. There may be limited availability for test dates in the first five-week period. Candidates who wish to transfer to a test date more than three months away should apply for a refund and then re-apply for the test.

Test takers who seek to cancel their registration or transfer test dates within the five-week period prior to the test date will only receive a refund if they can satisfy to the Administrator that their ability to sit the test has been affected by illness or serious cause. Serious causes include:

•    illness – e.g. hospital admission, serious injury or illness (does not include minor illness such as a mild cold)
•    loss or bereavement – death of a close family member
•    hardship/trauma – victim of crime, victim of a traffic accident
•    military service.

*If you cancel your test within five weeks of the test date for any reason apart from the ones mentioned above, you will not be eligible to receive a transfer or  refund.

You must lodge an application for refund or transfer no later than five working days after the test date. Candidates must complete a Request for Refund Form and attach the appropriate documentation and/or evidence. Acceptable documents may include a medical certificate which covers your registered test date from a qualified medical practitioner, a death certificate, or a police report. Statutory declarations and certificates signed by family members are not acceptable.

You will be advised within one week of lodging your application whether or not their request has been approved.

9. How soon can I re-sit the test?

There is no time limit on sitting the test. However, we strongly recommend you do additional study before taking the test again. Some test centres offer preparatory courses and language classes. Ask you IDP Education student adviser or contact your local test centre for more information.

10. What kinds of accents can be heard in the Listening and Speaking tests?

As IELTS is an international test, a variety of English accents is used in both of these tests.


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