Who Can Register For The IELTS Exam?

Many students wonder if they can or need to register for or take the IELTS exam. This is especially true for native English speakers in countries like Singapore or South Africa. At the moment there is so much contradictory information that can be found online regarding this issue. In this article, we will take look at the eligibility criteria that need to be met when registering for the IELTS exam.

Eligibility Requirements For Taking The British Council and IDP IELTS Test?

To be eligible to take both the paper-based and the computer-delivered  IELTS exam you must be over the age of 16 and possess a valid passport.

There are no formal educational qualification requirements for taking the IELTS exam. The exam is merely an assessment of your English language capabilities and therefore only your current English level is important when considering whether or not to take the exam.

In fact, you do not even have to be a second language learner to take the exam. There are many instances when native English speakers might be asked to take the exam since we do not all have the same level of English language skills. We don’t all use English perfectly, just because it’s our first language.

In short, almost anyone can register for the IELTS test either in person or at a verified IDP or British Council IELTS test centre.

Who Should Take The Exam?

You should consider taking either Academic or General Training IELTS exam if you fall into any one of the categories below.

  • If you are planning to study in an English-speaking country like the UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand/USA or any university where you have to demonstrate your English language capabilities via a language proficiency test
  • If you are planning to emigrate to an English-speaking country like the UK, Canada/Australia/New Zealand for work purposes.
  • Being a medical professional, planning to work or study further in UK/Australia/USA.

When Is Better Not To Register For The IELTS Exam?

The IELTS exam is an advanced language skills test and it is designed to be taken by candidates who are at an intermediate or higher level of English. Most IELTS test takers are at a band score level of between 4 to 6, and to be honest, if you are at a level lower than that you probably should not even be considering attempting the IELTS exam until you have sufficiently improved your basic English language skills.

In such cases, it would be better to enrol in general English courses to improve your basic skills before you tackle the IELTS exam.

You should also not book an exam if it is not really a requirement of any of the tertiary institutions or visa immigration systems that you are applying to. Therefore it is really important to make doubly sure of the conditions and requirements of these types of organisations.

Honestly, you should only 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. This can greatly help you to get IELTS results you need.

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.