IELTS test day: Step by step


This is it, the day of your IELTS test. You chose IELTS for good reasons, you took a preparation course, and did lots of practice on your own. Now you’re ready for your IELTS test.

Step 0: The day before your IELTS Test

Good IELTS test performance actually begins the day before with getting a good night’s rest. It may seem obvious, but the stress and pressure of a big test often encourages people to stay up late practicing or worrying over their weak points. It’s far more useful to do your preparation in advance and then spend the night before the test resting. This will help your brain to be in top shape for the long day of testing ahead.

Sitting the IELTS test is clearly the most important part of test day and, clocking in at nearly 3 hours long, it’s a bit of a marathon. But this doesn’t mean other details about the test day can be overlooked. As in all things, it pays to be prepared.

Your IELTS test day walkthrough starts here.

Step 1: Getting to the IELTS Test Centre

The test starts promptly so it’s best to arrive early. Arriving early allows you to ask questions, take your time getting registered, and maybe even relax for a few minutes. It’s recommended to arrive an hour before your test begins. If you arrive after the doors close, you will not be allowed to sit the IELTS test.

Here are the registration times for ILSC’s centres:

  • Vancouver, New York, San Francisco: 8:00 – 8:45am
  • Montréal, Toronto, North York, Thunder Bay: 8:15am – 9:00am
  • Mississauga, Scarborough: 8:30 – 9:15am

Look up the address of the IELTS test centre and make sure you know how to get where you need to go. If you’re taking public transport, be sure to leave early to avoid unforeseen delays and drivers should pay attention to parking restrictions. You won’t be able to leave once you’re registered, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve paid for enough parking.

Once you’re at the centre you’ll give your personal belongings to an attendant (including wallets, watches, and electronic devices) and then be directed to registration to have your picture taken and fingerprint registered.

Step 2: Sitting the IELTS test

After registration, you will be seated in a waiting area with only your Passport/ID, candidate number, and a transparent water bottle if you choose. (Pencils will be provided in the test room.) Next, the proctor will take you to your examination room where you’ll be seated by an invigilator.

From this point on, testing conditions are in effect and you will need to be accompanied to the washrooms, to the cloakrooms, etc.

If you have taken practice tests or completed a preparation course you will be familiar with the test format. The invigilator will clearly state the requirements and expectations and read out instructions before each part of the IELTS test.

The test will begin at:

  • Vancouver, New York, San Francisco: 9:00am
  • Montréal, Toronto, North York, Thunder Bay: 9:15am
  • Mississauga, Scarborough: 9:30am

Once the test begins, there are no breaks until the end of the test. Toilet breaks are permitted for some sections, but you will not be compensated for lost time while you are out of the examination room.

Step 3: Speaking Test

The break between the written and the speaking test will vary depending on the interview slot you’ve been assigned. In some cases the speaking portion of your IELTS test may actually take place another day, but if this is the case you will be informed about this in advance.

The first slot for the speaking test begins at:

  • New York: 12:30pm
  • San Francisco: 1:00pm
  • Vancouver: 1:15pm
  • Montréal: 1:20pm
  • Toronto, North York, Thunder Bay, Mississauga, Scarborough: 1:40pm

All candidates must report to the waiting room 30 minutes before their scheduled interview time at our Canadian centres, or 10 minutes before at our US centres. If your interview is any time after the first slot, you will have time to leave the test centre for lunch but must report 30 minutes before your scheduled time.

After your speaking interview, the IELTS test is complete. Congratulations! Now all that’s left is to wait for your results, which can be arranged for you to pick up or be sent directly to the organization of your choice.

Interested in IELTS Preparation Classes? ILSC offers the IELTS Mastery Program and IELTS Mastery: 6.5 and also has general IELTS preparation and evening classes to get you ready for your test.



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