Who Needs IELTS?

Welcome, friend!

Here’s your one-stop shopping... I mean reading... for all questions and answers related to #IELTS. A database—if you will—like this doesn’t exist, so I figured why not give it a go right here and now.

There are a number of questions that I regularly get asked regarding this test. I strongly feel that it’s definitely worthwhile to share in-depth answers to these questions. No question is too small or insignificant. My promise to you is that I’ll share one with you in each post—honestly and completely.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

This is by far the number one question about IELTS: Who needs IELTS?

Your first reaction may be, “No one!” While that is funny, it doesn’t answer our question.

Do YOU need IELTS?

Well, apparently everyone does or, at the very least, it seems like everyone does, right?! In all seriousness, IELTS is for people who wish to: work, study, or live in a new country. That could very well include you. Usually, emphasis on usually, taking IELTS applies to people who are moving to a new country where English is the mode of communication in those three areas: jobs, schools, or general life.

IELTS for Life

For example, if I‘m from South Africa (which I’m not but I DO want to visit) and wish to move to Canada, I need to take IELTS. It might sound completely insane being that I’m going from one country where I’m communicating on a daily basis in English to another country where I’ll be doing the ... EXACT! SAME! THING!— but it’s completely true.

And yes, if I were that person moving from South Africa to Canada, I’d have to take IELTS as there would be ZERO way around it. Is your mind blown, yet? Well, you’re not alone. As unfortunate as it is, it’s a requirement for immigration. This probably seems completely ridiculous, to you, right? Okay, perhaps, a bit MORE than asinine. Just remember that we are here to figure out who needs IELTS.

We’ve already covered that if you move from one country to another, you need to take it. Done! This means that if you are part of the “general life” category, you need to take it. What about the others? Do we just leave them to figure it out on their own? Definitely not!

IELTS for Work

Picture this—my friend—you are given an opportunity to relocate to your DREAM job in New Zealand from where you currently live, Argentina— scuba diving with sharks, anyone?! Oh, maybe it’s just me— what do you do?

Well, aside from jumping for joy and doing a little dance, (if you are so inclined) you now have to register and take IELTS. SURPRISE… only it’s not because you already know the secret that if you move from Country A to Country B, even if they share a border, you’ll more likely than not, have to take this particular test. The same line of thinking applies to careers and universities. I won’t provide you with an example for those who are interesting in attending university abroad because I’m sure you get the picture by now.

If you have a sneaking suspicion that there must be another alternative, you’re not wrong; perhaps you’ve even heard of it.

The Competition

For a long time, IELTS was not widely accepted in the U.S. If you wanted to send your IELTS score to an American institution, that mostly likely was not possible. This was because IELTS wasn’t even on the American radar. This test began to slowly but surely creep into the American scene around the early 2000s . Why was the this the case?

Well, like all businesses, this was because they had their own English proficiency test, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or more commonly known as TOEFL.

TOEFL, the American competitor, held a dominating position in terms of the overall American market for many decades. If you wanted to: attend an American university, start a job in the U.S., or move to America, the odds were that you only had one option, TOEFL.

BUT— at LOT has evolved since then, and more often than not, you’ll find that in the U.S., most of these institutions (universities, employers, or governments) accept IELTS. Flashward to now where the landscape has shifted dramatically—and positively. In fact, it’s changed so much that this means that applicants in all three of the main categories are given a choice, and normally they register with IELTS as it is GENERALLY more universally recognized and accepted. 

Are you still with me?

What Score Do You Need?

Okay, so we’ve covered people who wish to move to a new country. What if that’s not you? Let’s say that you want to move to a new country for the other two reasons, here’s a very useful link to figure out what score you need to get. Oh, and yes, it can also be used for determining which governments accept IELTS, so guess what? It can be used for anyone who is taking IELTS. Yay!

My suggestion would be to look at this list first and determine if your particular organization requires IELTS. If so, what is the minimum score? You do this so that you don’t accidentally spend a lot of money on registering for a test that you don’t need. Sound good? Good!

Nurses Unite!

Great news, we have enough nurses! The previous statement has been made ZERO times in human history because, as you’re already aware, there is—and always will be—a need for nurses. 

So, what does this actually have to do with IELTS? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. This is the part you’ve been waiting for!

Here’s an example, my friend. Let’s say you are a nurse in South Korea and you wish to continue your wonderful (and much appreciated) profession in the U.S., what’s the next step? Well, you guessed it, not only do you have to take IELTS but you also need a Band 7 (out of 9, where 9 is the maximum) on the Speaking test.

A Band 7 is REALLY difficult, but I’ll save that discussion for another post. The main reason for the Band 7 is not to make your life miserable—although it may sure seem like it! It’s to ensure that the patient receives the right dose because there is a MASSIVE difference between 15mg and 50mg of ________ (whatever pill you are giving a patient). 15 and 50 may sound incredibly similar but they are not the same. I know you knew that but I figured I’d share it with you anyway.

But, What If I’m Not a Nurse?

For other jobs where English is the main mode of communication, being able to clearly articulate your thoughts in writing (usually via email because it’s 2020) AND swiftly getting your point across during a presentation (which very well could be via Zoom because Covid-19) is where IELTS comes into play.

This exam is the liaison between something new you want: life, job, or school, and actually attaining it. It’s the way that you can prove that you are able to comprehend and be understood by others in English. How else could you do so without having some barometer for capturing someone’s ability or inability to communicate effectively, in this case, the English language?


Sure, you do have to go to the immigration interviews, but those who work there normally aren’t trained linguists whose main job is to ascertain—via the use of detailed rubrics—to what degree someone’s command of English is.

This is where IELTS examiners come into play. While that is a post for another day, it is worth noting that the people who mark your test are HIGHLY-TRAINED, English as a second language (ESL) professionals who eat, sleep, and breathe rubrics. Okay, that might be an exaggeration… but just a tiny one! 

You can check out the public versions of these rubrics here. To see the qualifications for examiners, you can check them out here. Plus, the training process is rigorous, and not every prospective examiner actually becomes certified as one.

In a Nutshell

You’ve already learned that taking IELTS is for you if you are: moving to a new country, attending university in a different country, or accepting that exciting job offer in a new land. All three of these areas are major life events. While these reasons are very broad, be sure to check first if your institution requires that you take it. In the end, you want to spend your time, money, and effort properly, right? I thought so.

Click here to gain weekly, IELTS insights sent straight to your inbox. This weekly series will set you up for success as you get all the information of what you need to know: before, on the day of, and after—you take IELTS. No fluff, just facts. I promise!

Until next time, happy IELTSing!

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