Frequently Asked Questions

What is an RO?
A Recognizing Organization (RO) is any organization which accepts IELTS scores. Organizations which provide third party services to clients such as education, recruitment, travel, legal or migration services are not considered ROs.
I'm ready to become an RO. What are my options?
You have two options: Postal ROs and STED ROs. Learn more here.
I am already a Postal RO. How long does it take to subscribe to online verification or e-download services?
Signing up to the IELTS Online Verifications Service is quick and easy. All applications are managed by Cambridge and are usually completed within a week’s time. Please click here to complete the application form.
Converting from a Postal RO to a STED RO is almost instantaneous in the system, however, can take up to a couple of months to be implemented across the network. While Cambridge updates the RO’s status in the system once the request comes in, it may take a couple of weeks for all global test centres to be updated on the organization’s status change.
What is the IELTS Global Recognition System?
The Global Recognition System (GRS) is a centralized database of all the IELTS Recognizing Organizations. The GRS is updated by the IELTS Central Team on a weekly basis. New ROs can register themselves for the GRS by completing the online registration process. This is separate from the Online Verification Service and ROs are encouraged to register with the GRS first. Candidates can use the GRS to check that their chosen organization accepts IELTS results (i.e. is an RO) and to see what IELTS score is required.
What are Test Report Forms (TRFs)?
The Test Report Form (TRF) is the official statement of results that IELTS candidates receive on their results release date. Test centres print the TRF using special TRF paper.
Who can I contact if the online results don’t match the copy of the TRF sent by a candidate?
If you are unable to find a match, or if the information available online is different from the TRF sent by the candidate, please send a query with a copy of the TRF to [email protected], managed by IELTS Quality & Compliance (Q&C). Similarly, if a forged TRF is discovered, Q&C should be informed and the TRF sent to Q&C. Q&C can only verify results that are less than two years old.
What makes IELTS a good test of English language proficiency?
IELTS tests the complete range of English language skills that will commonly be encountered by students when studying in an English-speaking environment. Assessment of performance in IELTS depends on how the test taker’s ability in English relates to the language demands of courses of study, not on reaching a fixed “pass” score. A particularly attractive feature of the IELTS is the live, face-to-face interview during which time the examiner, an experienced ESL professional trained, certified and monitored by IELTS to deliver the speaking component, evaluates the student’s English speaking abilities.
How is the test structured?
The test is designed to cover the full range of ability from “non-user” to “expert user.” Test takers are tested in all four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The first three modules – listening, reading and writing – must be completed in one day. The speaking module is usually taken on the same day, but depending on cultural conventions in some regions of the world, may be taken in the period seven days before or after the other modules. To reflect different learning and test taking styles, IELTS uses a variety of question (task) types: short-answer questions, sentence completion, note/summary/diagram/flow-chart/table completion, labeling a diagram which has numbered parts, classification, multiple choice and matching.
How is IELTS scored?
IELTS provides a profile of a test taker’s ability to use English. Test takers receive scores on a band scale from 1 to 9. A score is reported for each module of the test. The individual module scores are then averaged to produce an overall mean band score. Overall band scores and individual skill scores are reported in increments of half bands (e.g., 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, etc.).
Who marks the IELTS?
Scoring is carried out at the test center by trained, certified clerical markers for the listening and reading sections and certified IELTS examiners for the writing and speaking. All markers and examiners around the world are closely monitored by senior examining team members and by Cambridge ESOL.
When are test results available?
Test results are available 13 calendar days following the test.
How are test results delivered?
Official Test Report Forms (TRFs) are sent directly from the test center where the test taker took the exam to the receiving institution. Each test taker also receives one personal paper copy for his/her records. Test takers can send up to five copies to institutions of their choice for the original test fee, and can send additional copies for a nominal administrative fee up to two years following the date of the exam. A free electronic score download system is also available for all recognizing institutions upon their request. A free TRF Verification Service is also available for extra security for all recognizing institutions to verify the authenticity of paper forms.
How long are IELTS results valid for?
IELTS results are valid for two years. As a general rule, based on research in the area of language attrition, it is recommended that a TRF more than two years old only be accepted as evidence of level of ability if accompanied by further support that a test taker has actively maintained or tried to improve his/her English language proficiency.
How should IELTS scores be interpreted?
Both the overall band score and the scores recorded for each individual module should be considered when assessing applicants’ English proficiency. The appropriate band score required for a given course of study is ultimately something that must be decided by the institution in the light of knowledge of the level of difficulty of the courses and the experience of international students taking them. Language skills should be matched to expectations, needs and programs/courses. For example, if a course has a lot of reading and writing, but no lectures, listening comprehension might not be quite as important, and a lower band sub-score in listening might be acceptable if the overall band score met the minimum requirement set for admissions. However, for a course where there are frequent lectures and spoken instructions, a lower sub-score in listening might be unacceptable even though the overall band score met the minimum admission requirement.
What if my organization is already registered but I don’t have access to the IELTS Online Verification Service?
Each registered organization has a nominated TRF administrator. This person can add colleagues as users of the online service. Contact your administrator to request user access.
What if I am registered to receive results electronically (STED) but cannot locate a candidate number in the system?
If you are unable to locate a candidate number in the e-download service, please email the concern to [email protected] to confirm the nature of the issue. If you'd like to register for this service, click here


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