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A Guide to the IELTS Indicator Test

What is the IELTS Indicator Test?

It’s a test introduced in March 2020 in response to Covid-19. For those applying to an educational institution, the IELTS Indicator is the online test that you can take  to safely demonstrate your language skills during the Covid-19 shutdown if it is  not possible to take the IELTS at an official test centre.

For many of you planning your future studies, proof of your English language competence by taking the IELTS exam has proved to be difficult this year.  Many test centres around the world suspended all IELTS exams and, although there are now around 90 countries worldwide that are open for testing again, there are still 31 countries where they are currently suspended. Also, those centres that have re-opened, there may be restrictions on the number of candidates allowed to take the test in any one session. 

The IELTS Indicator test is, as the name suggests, a mock IELTS exam which gives you your likely IELTS band score. Introduced with students in mind, it is only available in the Academic version, not General Training. Instead of going to an official IELTS testing centre, you simply do the test at home, online, in comfort and safety.  It is an official IELTS exam to be trusted as it is reliable, fair and accurate and uses standard IELTS marking procedures and official IELTS examiners.

Remember that IELTS Indicator will be available for a limited period of time in countries where IELTS exam centres have been temporarily closed or where testing is currently limited. For official information on all this, go to IELTS Indicator Test.

Is the IELTS Indicator Test any different to the regular IELTS?

The only real difference is the location: at home rather than a test centre. 

The test includes the four skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and the format is exactly the same as the in-person version. The Speaking test is delivered via video call with a fully qualified and trained examiner.  In each of the four areas, your performance is marked by IELTS examiners who give you an indicative score for each area and an overall band score. You receive your result within seven days.

How is the IELTS Indicator Test delivered?

The test is held once a week at a scheduled time.  It’s a live, online test with an allocated start time and duration. By “live”, I mean the Listening, Reading and Writing sections have to be taken in one sitting without breaks. You cannot stop and re-join the exam later. Just as with the in-person version, you will need around 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete the three sections (Listening 30 minutes, Reading and Writing 60 minutes each plus a few minutes extra to set up each part). You also must have a laptop or desktop computer with stable internet access as well as a microphone and a webcam. You cannot take the exam using a mobile or tablet device.

The Speaking test can take place a few days before or after the other sections. It is done via a Zoom video call. You will have to show the examiner your official identification you have chosen for IELTS, either your passport or your national ID card. Check out the official IELTS site on the test for more information. 

Registration and cost

It’s important to remember that you have to be at least 16 years old to take the Indicator test.  

Registration is simply done online. Go to any of the official IELTS sites such as https://www.ieltsindicator.com/book/ or https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/which-ielts-test/ielts-indicator and just follow the steps. 

The test costs US$149.00, considerably cheaper than the regular IELTS test. 

Why take the IELTS Indicator Test?

Why spend money on taking this test if you can take practice tests for free? 

The simple answer is that it can be used to give educational institutions useful and reliable information on your proficiency in English. In fact, many universities and educational institutions worldwide are accepting IELTS Indicator scores for entry purposes for those candidates unable to present the test in-person. 

However, before booking the exam, you must check with the admissions office of the institution you want to attend to make sure it accepts the test because not all of them do. For the list of universities that do accept it, go again to the official sites and remember that the lists are updated as more institutions are added so check it out every few days. 

Also, the test is not a substitute for the in-person IELTS and once testing resumes, your university or education provider may ask you to take the in-person IELTS, even if you have taken IELTS Indicator.

From the personal point of view, the benefit is that it allows you to accurately measure your abilities under exam conditions. Taking this test along with receiving expert help on this test and on studying for IELTS in general at, for example, could make all the difference. Take a look at the tutorials from IELTSPodcast, to help you prepare for your exam.        


Author: Sim K


Sim K


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