Information and advice about your IELTS test day

If you are taking IELTS remotely at home or elsewhere, you can find out more about the setup and requirements in our IELTS Online section.

The information below only applies if you take your IELTS tests at a test centre.

You might feel a bit nervous about your IELTS test day. So that things go smoothly as possible for you, we’ve put together some information to help you understand what will happen on the day of your test.

You will need to arrive in good time for your IELTS test. If you arrive late, you may not be allowed to take the test. You will receive an email at least three days before the test so you will know at what time your test starts.

Switch off your mobile phone and any other electronic devices. You will be asked to place these with other personal belongings outside the test room.

If you have asked for special arrangements as a result of a disability or other condition, adjustments will be made for you on the test day. Please contact our staff at the test centre three months in advance.

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests take 2 hours 40 minutes and there are no breaks between the parts of the test.

Speaking tests are scheduled to take place either during the week before the written parts of the test, on the day of the written tests or one day after the written tests. You can confirm the final time and day of your speaking exams through the Registration System within 48 hours before your written exam.

Make sure you are prepared and have something to eat and drink beforehand. You will not be allowed to take food into the test room and you will only be allowed to take water in a transparent bottle.

The British Council takes your security seriously

Please note that security at a British Council IELTS test is very important. As an added measure, all participants will be required to have their photograph taken by IELTS administrative staff on their test day. Please make sure that you review the photograph instructions supplied to you after you have booked your test.

Watches – irrespective of their style and age – are not allowed in the test room. You will be required to leave your watch with your belongings in the secure baggage area. There will be a clock at the test centre.

What can I bring into the test room?

You can bring:

  • your ID/identification document
  • a pencil and a pen (a pencil will be needed for Listening and Reading)
  • a pencil sharpener and an eraser
  • a transparent bottle of water.

You will not be able to take anything else into the test room.

Please note that no highlighters or correction tape/fluid are allowed.

What do I do with my belongings on the test day?

There will be a secure area where you need to leave all your belongings. The British Council is not responsible for loss or damage to your personal belongings at the test centre. Therefore, we strongly recommend leaving valuables such as mobile phones and computers at home.

When is my identity checked?

The IELTS test centre staff will check your identity when you arrive.

Please bring the same valid ID/identification document (national identity card or passport) you used when you booked your test. Certified photocopies will not be accepted.

Invalid or expired ID/identification documents will not be accepted. If you cannot provide valid ID, you will not be able to sit the test.

When will I have my test day photograph taken?

Your photograph will be taken on test day as an additional security measure and will appear on your Test Report Form.

What if I need assistance during the test?

If you have any questions during the test, raise your hand to ask for help.

When you take the Listening test, check that you can hear the sound properly. Raise your hand straightaway and let the invigilator know if you cannot hear the recording.

Please remember that you will have ten minutes after the Listening section to fill in your answer sheet. You will not have ten minutes after the Reading section, so make sure that you write your answers on your answer sheet as you complete each section.

If you need to go to the bathroom during the test, raise your hand to attract the attention of the invigilator. Do not disturb other test takers.

What happens at the end of the test?

Stay in your seat until the invigilator gives you permission to leave the room.

If you think that there have been any issues that may have affected your performance, tell the invigilator straightaway.

If you want to raise an issue or make a complaint, please ask your invigilator for a Test Day Incident Form to complete.

Is it safe for me to take an English test with the British Council? I am enrolled for an exam session. What health/protection measures do you have in place?

The health of our test takers and staff is our priority. Before we open any test centre:

  • we ensure that we are following all local government safety guidelines as well as those of the British Council
  • we brief our test centre staff so they are up to date on what to do and how to prepare for the arrival of test takers.

We have put the following measures in place to make our test centres as safe as possible:

  • test venues will be cleaned thoroughly prior to each test session
  • in the case of IELTS exams on computer all equipment will be sanitised prior to each session
  • our staff will be wearing masks and/or face visors
  • you will be required to wear a mask in all common areas and maintain a one and a half metre physical distance at all times
  • if you would like to, you may also wear latex gloves although this is not required
  • we will provide sanitisers throughout the test venue and we ask that all test takers use them regularly to help ensure a safe environment
  • we will not provide pens or pencils to test takers who will be asked to bring their own stationery on the test day.