What Is The Best Date To Book The British Council IELTS Exam?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam is a well-known language proficiency test that is jointly hosted by the British Council and the IDP. The test is an accurate assessment of a student’s English language skills and their ability to cope in an English speaking environment. It is a necessary requirement for entry into English speaking countries like New Zealand, the UK, Australia and Canada for both migration and study purposes. Even native English speakers from countries like Singapore or South Africa, have to take the IELTS exam. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot book your IELTS test on any day that you like, as the organisations hold the IELTS exams only on certain days of the year. Let’s take a look at how to pick the best possible date to take the IELTS exam.

When Is The British Council IELTS Exam Held?

The British Council offers the IELTS academic test on 48 pre-determined dates, while the General Training test occurs about 24 times a year.  These are usually on a Saturday or a Thursday. The Computer-Delivered IELTS tests are available 3 times a day for the entire year, except for public holidays. Places are available on a first-come-first-served basis. The speaking test can be booked on the same afternoon or within a 7-day window.

The day on which you take your IELTS test can also have an effect on your score. Therefore it is important to consider all possible factors before you book your exam with the British Council IELTS exam. I’ve written this article to provide you with all the facts about choosing the best date to take the IELTS exam

When Is The Best Date To Book Your British Council IELTS Exam?

Honestly, the best time to book your test is when your English level is at its best and you are well aware of the strategies and skills needed to ace your exam. It’s much better to prepare first and then book your test. Use the time between your preparation and booked test date to continually improve your skills through practice with official IELTS Tests. Unfortunately, most students do not heed this advice, mostly because they have an unrealistic opinion about their current level of proficiency as well as the actual level of difficulty of the IELTS exam.

Such students book tests under false assumptions about the test’s difficulty and their actual levels of English Language proficiency and realize, all too late, that they have made a great error in judgment about the time they need to prepare. Remember that you have to pay separately for each time you attempt the test and taking the test multiple times can be quite expensive. Even if you decide to postpone your test, you will not be refunded if you postpone within 5 weeks of your scheduled test date.

During the registration process, you will be allowed to choose up to five organisations that will receive your official IELTS score. Since different institutions and universities have different application deadlines and admission policies, it’s important to make sure that you know the date on which your chosen organisations will receive your results. Remember that your results will be available online, but it can also take an additional two weeks for universities and other organizations to actually receive those results.

One needs to plan for the worst-case scenario. If you do not obtain the required band scores on your first attempt of the IELTS Test, then you would need sufficient time to prepare and take a second test.  Obviously, this depends heavily on your individual circumstances and levels but in my opinion, an extra month would suffice.

When Should I book The IELTS Speaking Test?

The speaking test can be booked up to a week after your initial assessment (listening, reading and writing tests). Whether you choose to take the speaking test on the same day or later on in the week, depends on your individual circumstances. Some test takers travel great distances to take the IELTS exam, and therefore booking the speaking test on a separate day would not be practical.

However, if you are fortunate enough to live close to your test centre, I suggest that you book the speaking test on another day. This is because the other three test sections take a combined time of 2 hours and 40 minutes and this can quite exhausting for candidates. It would be much better to go into the speaking test, focused and refreshed.

If there are no test centres nearby, then I suggest that you research the nearby areas of your IELTS test centre to find a spot where you can relax and unwind, and maybe get a bite to eat before you take the speaking test.

How Do I Pay For The IELTS Exam?

There are a number of convenient payment methods that you can use to pay for the IELTS Exam. You can easily pay online using a debit or credit card on the official IELTS website or you can pay in person at any Official IDP or British Council IELTS Test centre. This can be done during the online booking procedure, which can be found on the IDP and British Council websites.

If you are using the online registration facilities, it’s important to make sure you receive a confirmation email, that gives you a booking payment update and provides information about your test date and test location.

If you feel that you are not currently at a level of English language proficiency that is necessary for the IELTS exam, then you should consider enrolling for an IELTS preparation course with an experienced IELTS tutor.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.