Everything You Need To Know About IELTS in Malaysia


Looking to further your studies abroad in an English-speaking country, such as the UK, Australia or USA? Or perhaps you’re planning to work or emigrate to a country where the primary language of communication is English?

If so, you may have come across a mandatory requirement to prove your proficiency in English.

There are a number of internationally-recognised English proficiency tests available, and one of the more popular ones is IELTS. This guide highlights some of the essential information that you need to understand about taking IELTS in Malaysia.

What is IELTS?

What It Is

IELTS - What It isIELTS, or International English Language Testing System, is an English language proficiency test that you can take in Malaysia. It measures your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English, and the entire test duration is approximately 3 hours.

IELTS (or other English proficiency tests such as TOEFL) is usually a prerequisite for those who want to study, work or emigrate to a country where English is the primary language for communication.

As a measure of English proficiency, IELTS is recognised by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including education institutions, employers, professional associations and government agencies. The majority of universities in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA accept IELTS as proof of English language proficiency.

With over 2 million tests being administered yearly, IELTS is arguably one of the most popular English language tests in the world.

Remember: The IELTS examination is NOT related to your pre-university or university programme. It serves as a supplementary test that is required for certain purposes and will not affect your grades in college or university.

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What Are the Types of IELTS Tests Available in Malaysia?

There are two types of IELTS tests that you can sit for in Malaysia:

  • Normal IELTS, or
  • IELTS for UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration)

Which type of IELTS test you take will depend on your visa requirements and / or the requirements of the university or organisation where you plan to study or work.

(i) Normal IELTS

This is the standard IELTS test, with two modules to choose from:

  • IELTS Academic, or
  • IELTS General Training

IELTS Academic measures proficiency that is typically required in an academic environment, while IELTS General Training measures proficiency in a practical, everyday context with focus on workplace and social situations. You will only need to take one module, and not both.

As a rough guideline, here are the differences between the two modules:

Consider...If You Want To...
IELTS Academic
  • Study at university at undergraduate or postgraduate level, or
  • Register with a professional body (e.g. medicine, accounting, engineering) in an English-speaking country

  • IELTS General Training
  • Study below undergraduate degree level (e.g. pre-university or foundation, secondary education), or
  • Train or work in an English-speaking country, or
  • Migrate to an English-speaking country
  • Both modules comprise of four parts — listening, reading, writing and speaking.

    Remember that every organisation sets their own English requirements, so you must check to ensure that you are taking the correct IELTS module.

    Important Note: If you are going to the UK for study, work or migration purposes, you may need to take IELTS for UKVI instead. It is absolutely crucial that you check with the respective institution.

    (ii) IELTS for UKVI (UK Visa and Immigration)

    If you are going to the UK for study, work or migration purposes, you may be required to take IELTS for UKVI.

    For certain categories of UK visas, you must submit an English language qualification that is in the form of a Secure English Language Test (SELT) that is approved by the UK government. SELTs have better security measures and processes, including CCTV at test centres, frequent audits and mystery shopping to improve the integrity of test results.

    IELTS for UKVI is one of the two Secure English Language Tests that is approved by the UK government.

    Here are the IELTS tests that have been approved for UK Visa and Immigration purposes:

    Consider...If You Want To...
    IELTS for UKVI (Academic)
  • Study at UK university at undergraduate or postgraduate level, or
  • Register with a professional body (e.g. medicine, accounting, engineering) in UK
  • AND
  • Have been informed that your English language qualification must be in the form of a Secure English Language Test (SELT)
  • IELTS for UKVI (General Training)
  • Study below undergraduate degree level (e.g. pre-university or foundation, secondary education), or
  • Train or work in the UK, or
  • Migrate to the UK,
  • AND
  • Have been informed that your English language qualification must be in the form of a Secure English Language Test (SELT)
  • IELTS Life Skills (B1)
  • Apply for UK permanent residency (known as 'indefinite leave to remain') or citizenship
  • IELTS Life Skills (A1)
  • Apply for a visa to join a partner or family member who is residing in the UK permanently (known as 'family of a settled person' visa)

  • For IELTS for UKVI (both Academic and General Training modules), you will be evaluated in all four components — listening, reading, writing and speaking. For IELTS Life Skills, you will be evaluated on your speaking and listening skills only.

    Again, it is absolutely crucial that you check with the institution where you plan to study or work on which IELTS version and module you should take.

    If you are unsure which test you should take, please contact the organisation / institution that you will be applying to and seek clarifications on their requirements. You can also click here to check whether the organisation / institution that you are applying to accepts IELTS.

    Important Note: Once you have submitted your registration, no changes will be entertained so make sure you choose correctly!

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    How Is the IELTS Malaysia Test Structured?

    IELTS - Structure

    You will be tested in four language skills, namely, Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. For IELTS Life Skills under IELTS for UKVI, you will be tested on Speaking and Listening only.

    There will be four separate tests for each language skill, and the complete duration for all four tests is approximately 3 hours.

    Listening, Reading and Writing tests will be held one after another, without any breaks in between. As for the Speaking test, you can choose to have it on the same day or on a separate day, up to 7 days before or after the other tests, depending on availability.

    Here are further details about each test.

    Skills TestedDetails
    Listening
  • Approximately 30 minutes allocated
  • 40 questions
  • 4 sections of recorded conversations and monologues
  • Each section is heard once only (make sure you pay your fullest attention!)
  • A variety of voices and native accents will be used
  • Reading
  • 60 minutes allocated
  • 40 questions
  • 3 sections – all sections contain reading texts
    • Academic Reading
      Texts are generally related to academic topics of general interest that may be descriptive, factual, discursive or analytical in nature.
    • General Training Reading
      Focus of texts are generally on relevant topics of everyday life in an English-speaking country, work related and general interest.ake sure you pay your fullest attention!)
  • Writing
  • 60 minutes allocated
  • 2 tasks. Write at least 150 words for ,Task 1 and at least 250 words forTask 2.
    • Academic Writing
      Task 1 requires you to describe, summarise, or explain information, in your own words, based on a graph, table, chart or diagram. Task 2 involves essay writing. Academic, semi-formal / neutral style of writing.
    • General Training Writing
      Task 1 requires you to write a letter related to a situation to request for information or to explain about the situation. Task 2 involves essay writing as well. Personal style of writing.
  • Speaking
  • 11 – 14 minutes allocated
  • A form of face-to-face interview / conversation
  • 3 parts which includes a short self-introduction, speaking about a given topic, discussion, and question and answer (Q & A)
  • How Will You Be Evaluated

    You will be evaluated on all four linguistic skills, i.e. Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

    For IELTS Listening and Reading components, marks are given for each correct answer, whereas for IELTS Writing and Speaking components, examiners will use detailed performance descriptors as part of the assessment.

    For each language skill, you will be given a score from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest), as well as an overall score that is also on a scale from 1 to 9.

    There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Your results merely indicate your skill level and command of the English language. A higher score indicates that you are a very good user of the language, while a lower score indicates that you are a modest or limited user of English.

    The IELTS scores are used to determine whether you have met the minimum required level of English proficiency of the university / organisation where you plan to study or work. For example, Oxford University requires an overall score of 7.0, with at least 7.0 in each of the four components.

    Here is a summary of the IELTS Band Scores and what they mean.

    IELTS Band ScoresWhat It Means
    9
    Expert User: You have full command of the English language, and your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent
    8
    Very Good User: You have full command of the English language, with only occasional inaccuracies and inappropriate usage
    7
    Good User: You have operational command of the English language, but with some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings
    6
    Competent User: You have an effective command of the English language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings
    5
    Modest User: You have partial command of the English language, and can cope with overall meaning with most situations
    4
    Limited User: Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations, with frequent problems in understanding and expression
    3
    Extremely Limited User: You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations, with frequent breakdowns in communication
    2
    Intermittent User: You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English
    1
    Non-User: You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English
    0
    Did Not Attempt the Test: You did not answer the questions

    When Do You Need To Take IELTS

    Here are some circumstances where you may be required to take the IELTS test:

    • You are planning to further your studies abroad (undergraduate or postgraduate) in an English-speaking country
    • You are going to work abroad where the institution or the country primarily speaks English
    • You plan to migrate to an English-speaking country
    • You are aiming to pursue certain courses such as Nursing, Medicine or Dentistry (some universities in Malaysia may require you to prove your proficiency in English for the said courses).

    It is extremely important for you to work out a feasible timeline for taking IELTS, especially for those of you who are bound by a specific deadlines (e.g. for work or education). This is so that you don’t have to rush to take your IELTS tests, or risk getting your results late, which will affect your visa application process, among others.

    Pro Tip: Not all universities require you to take English proficiency tests. Some universities accept other qualifications which you may already have, such as SPM English 1119 (GCE-O). It pays to check with the university before making a decision.

    How Can You Register for IELTS in Malaysia

    You can register as an IELTS Malaysia candidate with British Council by:

    • Registering online
    • Registering through counter / post

    As an Authorised British Council IELTS Registration Centre, you can also register to take IELTS with EduAdvisor. Click here to start your registration.

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    How Much Is the Fee?

    The test fees for each IELTS tests are as in the table below:

    Normal IELTSRM795
    IELTS for UKVI
    for both Academic and General Training
    RM1,105
    IELTS Life Skills
    for both B1 and A1
    RM830

    All of the test fees stated above already have GST included.

    On Your IELTS Test Day

    There is no need to bring your stationery as they will all be provided. You are only allowed to bring along your original ID document and a clear and transparent water bottle. You can leave all your other belongings with a personnel in charge on that day for safekeeping.

    Also, you will be required to have your photograph taken on that day to serve as another form of security measure and it will appear on your Test Report Form (results report).

    The Listening, Reading and Writing tests will be held consecutively, without any breaks in between. Therefore, remember to take some light food and empty your bladder prior to entering the test room. As for your Speaking test, you can choose to have it on the same day or on a separate day, up to 7 days before or after the other tests, depending on availability.

    Important Note: You must remember to bring along your ORIGINAL identification document (IC or passport) for verification purposes. You will NOT be allowed to sit for the tests if you are unable to provide your original ID documents for verification.

    Getting Your IELTS Results

    Your IELTS results will be available 13 days after you completed all the tests. Your results will be in a Test Report Form, which showcases the scores for each of your skill tests, as well as your overall band score.

    To obtain your Test Report Form, you can:

    • Collect your Test Report Form from the test centres directly on the 13th day, or
    • Have your results mailed to you on the 13th day, or
    • Check your results online on the 13th day (results will remain online for 28 days only), although the online preview of your results should NOT be used as an official confirmation of your results
    Remember: You will only receive one copy of your results so make sure you keep it safe.

    You can also request to have your Test Report Form to be sent to institutions / organisations (up to five of them) that you are applying to – for free. You can fill in the details of the institutions / organisations in the form when you register as an IELTS candidate.

    Requests for more than five institutions, or requests to send your Test Report Form to any organisations after your test day, will be charged RM37 per Test Report Form. Do note that test centres are NOT allowed to disclose your results over the phone or by email.

    Remember: In most cases, your IELTS Test Report Form is only valid for two years. Institutions / organisations typically do not accept results that are more than two years old.

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    What Can You Do If You Are Unhappy With Your IELTS Results

    If you have not achieved the band score that you were aiming for, it’s not the end of the world. Here are a couple of things you can do.

    #1. Retake your IELTS examination

    You can register to retake as soon as you feel you are ready. Do note that you will need to make a significant effort to improve your proficiency in English. Otherwise, your IELTS score will unlikely improve.

    #2. Remark your test(s)

    You can apply for a review of your test(s), otherwise also known as Enquiries on Results at the centre where you took your tests. The review will normally take around six to eight weeks. You need to submit your application for review within six weeks after your test date. There will also be a fee charged, which will only be refunded if your score on any skill test increases.

    Why Take IELTS with British Council?

    As the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunity and cultural relations, there are many reasons why you should take IELTS with British Council Malaysia.

    #1. Free resources

    You will receive a set of IELTS preparation materials, which includes up to 30 hours of free online training. You will have access to over 300 interactive exercises, extra tutorial videos plus lots of mock tests to boost your confidence level!

    #2. Convenient dates and locations

    British Council has test locations in 12 of Malaysia’s major cities, from Kuala Lumpur and Penang to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. More test dates and test locations means more convenience for you! Check out the full list of test centres here.

    #3. Additional British Council IELTS workshops and preparatory courses

    You can also attend IELTS workshops or preparation courses organised by British Council. This can help you ensure you are absolutely well-prepared to take on the tests and score the bands that you are aiming for.

    Want to take IELTS in Malaysia? We are an Authorised British Council IELTS Registration Centre. Apply with us here.

    Want to register for IELTS in Malaysia?

    EduAdvisor is an Authorised British Council IELTS Registration Centre​. Leave your details below and a counsellor will be in touch!

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