IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. Australian has been using this test for prospective migrants since 1998.
IELTS is used for some VISA and most university applications, with higher results required for successful university and academic paths. Academic students and general applicants take a different version of the test.
The test has four sections:
40 minutes. Answering a series of questions regarding four different conversations. The questions can be read in advance, and are in the same order as the corresponding answers in the conversations.
1 hour. Comprehending a series of written texts, totalling about 2500 words. Answers may be multiple choice, short answer, labelling diagrams, or making short summaries.
I hour. Two short writing assignments on two different topics, minimum of 150 words for the first topic, 250 words for the second. Answers must be relevant to the topic.
10 – 15 minutes. An interview in three sections. Talking about personal background and reasons for taking the IELTS. Talking on a topic with I minute preparation, and then answering questions about that topic with the interviewer.
The testing time is slightly less than three hours. Sometime the speaking section on a separate day, up to a week before or after the other sections of the test.
The IELTS test is written. This means that handwriting must be legible. Marks will deducted for incorrect spelling or poor grammar. This is the point of a language test.
Please note that the level of English language required for a particular university course may be different to the English required for working in that same field. For an example, an individual would need a 7.0 in the IELTs to study dentistry, but perhaps a 7.5 to work as a dentist after graduation.
IELTS test require a minimum level in all sections, not an average. If you VISA requires a 7.0 in the IELTS you must gain this or better in all sections of the test.
Different VISAs require different IELTS scores. Talk to the immigration lawyer about the best visa option, and the best language coaching for the test.