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In Canada, IELTS is the most popular English-language test that's used for work, study, and migration. It is also recognized by over 10,000 organizations in 140 countries around the world. Developed in consultation with experts from around the world, the IELTS test is researched and monitored to ensure that it is fair for all candidates, regardless of their background.

As an IELTS examiner, I've seen people of all ages and backgrounds, and from a wide variety of countries take the IELTS. In fact, meeting people from different countries is one of the perks of being an IELTS examiner!

Over the years I've learned that the reasons for taking the IELTS vary as much as the people who take the test.

This blog provides some information about who takes the IELTS and some of the reasons why people choose to do so.

Higher education/Professional field

There are two versions of the IELTS: the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training. Before registering for the test, candidates must decide which version they'll take. Candidates should consider their goals and needs when determining which version to take. If you are not sure whether you should take the IELTS Academic or General Training, I strongly recommend that you get some advice from the organization you are applying to (i.e. the school, government body, etc.).

The IELTS Academic is taken by those planning to study for higher education, such as in a university or college. For these candidates, their admission to an undergraduate or postgraduate program or courses may be based on the results of the IELTS Academic.

Another group of people who may take the IELTS Academic are those planning to work in a professional field such as engineering or accounting.

Training and migration

The General Training version is usually taken by those wishing to study, work or get training for their jobs in an English-speaking country. This test is also taken by those wishing to migrate to an English-speaking county such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the UK.

Non-native speakers only?

Some people are surprised to learn that both non-native and native English speakers may have to take the IELTS, depending on their needs and goals. As an examiner, I've met native speakers who plan to attend university, those who are migrating, or those who are seeking career opportunities. In some cases, native English speakers, just like non-native English speakers, are required to prove their language ability; many do so by taking the IELTS.

Widely accepted

One of the reasons IELTS is so popular with so many people is that it's accepted by more than 10,000 organizations in over 150 countries. A wide variety of organizations, such as universities, colleges, schools and governments, as well as professional and industry bodies, accept IELTS results.

I suggest you check the IELTS Global Recognition System which gives a comprehensive listing of organizations that accept IELTS as well as the required band scores for each one.

Living or working in Canada

For those applying to live or work in Canada, you may be aware that there are Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirements.

IELTS testing is widely available in test centres around the world and across Canada. For those in Canada, there are more than 100 locations across the country, with up to 48 test dates a year. Check here for global test dates.

For those located outside of Canada, IDP has test centres in more than 145 countries. Please visit here for information on a test location in the country where you're living.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of reasons people choose to take the IELTS, and there are many opportunities to take the exam wherever you may be located. Before making any decisions, I suggest you take your time, do your research, and consider your options carefully.

Good luck on your journey!

By Lyla Hage