Information and advice about your IELTS test day

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. Your confirmation email will provide you with timings and procedures on the test day. If you arrive late, you may not be allowed to take the test. You will receive an email at least one week before the test so you will know at what time your test starts and the venue address.

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 us at least three months in advance.

Your Speaking test may be offered on the same day as the other sections of the test, or up to a week before or after. You will receive notification in advance if your Speaking test is on a different day to your main test day.

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.

What health / protection measures do you have in place in view of the Covid-19 pandemic?

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 computer-delivered tests all equipment will be sanitised prior to each session. 
  • Our staff will be wearing masks. 
  • It is mandatory for all candidates to wear masks in all areas of the venue, e.g. waiting areas, registration and check-in areas, cloakroom areas, when being taken to their desks in the test room or when going to the bathroom. As cases of Covid-19 are on the rise again, in order to ensure heightened safety at the test venue, it is now required to wear masks throughout the whole test session – i.e. from entry into the exam venue to exit post-test. If you are exempt from wearing a mask for health reasons (e.g. asthma), you must provide a medical certificate confirming the exemption. This should be presented when you register on the day of the test. 
  • You must also maintain a 1.5 metres 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 or wash their hands to help ensure a safe environment. We will also ensure that there is liquid soap in the bathrooms so that test takers can wash their hands.
  • We will not provide pens or pencils to test takers who will be asked to bring their own stationery on the test day. 

Self-declaration of symptoms

Candidates with symptoms compatible with Covid-19 should not attend their test. The World Health Organisation’s website provides general sanitary information and basic hygiene measures related to Covid-19.                       

If a candidate shows symptoms prior to the test date, they should contact the Examination Centre in order to reschedule their exam to an alternative date. 

Before the start of the test candidates will be required to sign a self-declaration confirming that they are not in quarantine, have not been in contact with anyone suspected of Covid-19 in the past 14 days, and that they have no Covid-19 compatible symptoms.

How long does the test take?

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

Your Speaking test may be offered on the same day as the other sections of the test, or up to a week before or after. You will receive notification in advance.  

Please note:

*In the computer-delivered Listening test, the timings are slightly different from the paper-based test. This is because the paper-based test requires users to transfer answers to an answer sheet. This step becomes redundant when answering directly on a computer. 

  • Before the start of each part of the Listening test you will have some time to read the questions.
  • After the end of each part of the Listening test you will have some time to review your answers.
  • At the end of the Listening test, you will have 2 minutes to check your answers.
  • The timing of the Listening test is between 30 – 34 minutes.

What do I need to bring into the test room?

You need to bring:

  • your ID/ identification document
  • a pencil and a pen (a pencil will be needed for Listening and Reading)
  • an eraser
  • face mask

We recommend you bring:

  • a transparent bottle of water.

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

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 venue. Therefore, we strongly recommend leaving valuables like mobile phones and computers at home.

When is my identity checked?

The IELTS test location 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. 

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 get 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 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 about an incident on test day, please ask your invigilator for a Complaint Form for Candidates to complete. This form needs to be submitted on the same day. No complaint can be processed after your results have been released by your test centre. 

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 10 minutes after the Listening section to fill in your answer sheet. You will not have 10 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.

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. 

All 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 venue.