History of the IELTS from Past to Present

The IELTS is nowadays a worldwide utilized English test for foreign speakers who wish to study and work in the UK. If you check some essay writing websites, you can even see tips on IELTS, in specific. Well, the test itself started as the English Proficiency Test Battery (EPTB) was developed in 1963. It wasn’t used, though, for the first three years. It was in 1965 when it got put to test. Then students started taking it to try and get the best grades allowing them to pursue education in UK universities. The EPTB had three subtests that focused on listening and reading comprehension and reading speed. It didn’t test my writing and speaking skills, though. Yet, it remained in use for almost 20 years when it was finally replaced in 1980.

Later the ELTS (English Language Testing Service) come into play. It was comprised of six modules. Five of them included life and physical sciences, social studies, medicine, and technology, whereas the last was “general academic” questions. The problem here was that very few students took this test due to problems with its administration. So, then came the…

Beginning of IELTS

The 1980s saw the first steps of the International English Language Testing System. It began to be implemented as an English as a foreign language testing device in 1989. Its creators were the British Council, Cambridge, and The International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges. It consisted of four modules that covered not only listening and reading but also writing and speaking. From the very start, IELTS had two versions. One was utilized for general purposes whereas the other was utilized for academia. With only six years in existence, it surpassed the ELTS with about 43,000 yearly test takers by 1995.

IELTS Being Changed

In 1995 the IELTS saw some substantial revisions. First, field-specific modules in writing and reading were taken away. Instead, they were put together into one writing module and one reading module. Also, some structural and administrative changes took place. It was allowed for students to take the speaking assessment on a different day than their first three modules. Timing and length limits were made the same for both the academic and the general training types of the IELTS.

Then Again

Of course, this wasn’t the final revision. In 2001, the speaking part saw some revisions. The number of tasks was reduced. The speaking part saw the addition of examiner scripts and new specific scoring criteria. In 2005, the evaluation of the writing part was also changed to include not three but four evaluation areas. The same year saw the implementation of computerized IELTS, too. In 2015, a new type of IELTS got put into practice. This was the IELTS Life Skills Test with only speaking and listening modules that take no more than 22 minutes.


Nowadays thousands of students in over 140 countries all over the globe take IELTS every year. This puts IELTS among the most popular standardized assessments in the world. Over 1,100 test centers exist. The major English-speaking countries all accept IELTS scores for academia and work.

IELTS consists of listening, speaking, reading, and writing sections. The listening comprises four sections, each consisting of 10 questions. The allotted time is 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to fill in the answer sheet. The passages are played only once and are unique in their topics and speakers. The first two are, respectively, conversation and monologue and cover general interests. The second two are a conversation and a monologue covering academic subjects.

The speaking section is also the same for general and academic IELTS. Here the test-taker is interviewed (with recording) according to a three-part structure continuing for about 14 minutes. It begins with familiar topics, then a topic covered in the specific booklet, and the part ends with more in-depth questions on the topic from part 2.

The reading section differs in the general training test and the academic test with the difference being the subject of the material. The academic test includes, well, of course, three academic texts. The general training section is comprised of some more texts but changed to be more appropriate for the general public. One time is allotted for the reading section with the number of questions being as many as 40. The general training test has 12 different types of exercise. The academic one, though, has 11 different types. 

Then comes the writing section. It has different tasks for the general test and the academic one. Still, both consist of two writing tasks with an overall duration of one hour. The first task is 20 minutes and is worth fewer points than the second one which is harder and has 40 minutes allotted to it. The latter comprises a “discursive essay”. There, test-takers need to argue on certain positions. Or, another opportunity is to present different solutions for specific problems. It’s recommended that the short essay goes no more than 150 words with the longer one being recommended to comprise about 250 words.


So, nowadays when you go browse some writing service for college, you’d find writers who are all probably been subjected to academic writing at some point in their lives. If they’re foreigners, they’ve probably even taken the IELTS. After all, this is one of the most widely-used assessment devices all around the globe. It’s recognized in all the main English-speaking countries as a test to check for general and specific English language proficiency.

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