Is There an IELTS Exam Age Limit?

is there an IELTS exam age limit?

Are you old enough to take the IELTS? Or are you too old to take the IELTS? Never fear–I’ve dug up the facts on the IELTS exam age limit.

Is 16 the Minimum IELTS Exam Age Limit?

If you Google “IELTS exam age limit,” a lot of the top results seem to say that you can’t take the IELTS if you’re under 16. This is wrong, wrong, WRONG! But I don’t mean to be too harsh on the people that say this. The supposed 16 age limit is a pretty common misconception, actually.

So why do people think you can’t take the IELTS under the age of 16? Where does this weird idea come from? Well, the truth is, it’s not such a weird idea. And it’s not far from the truth. The official makers of the IELTS do recommend against taking the IELTS if you’re younger than 16. But they absolutely do allow younger test-takers to register for the test without restriction.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the IELTS minimum age policy, right from one of their own official websites. According to the official terms and conditions for IELTS test registration:

  • IELTS is made available worldwide to all persons, regardless of age, gender, race, nationality or religion but it is not recommended to persons under 16 years of age.
  • Why does the IELTS recommend against taking the test before you’re 16?

    So, if you’re under 16 and are thinking of taking the IELTS, should you worry? Why do the test-makers say this is usually a bad idea?

    One of the biggest reasons is that IELTS scores expire after two years. So how is that a problem for younger test-takers? Well, the main reason people take the IELTS is to get into university or get a skilled migration visa to an English-speaking country. Generally, people don’t start uni or go overseas for work unless they’re at least 18.

    With some simple math, you can see the problem. For any test-taker under the age of 16, IELTS scores will almost certainly be expired by the time they start university or go abroad for work.

    If you’re under the age of 16, is there any reason to take the IELTS?

    Absolutely! Some high school foreign exchange programs, bilingual high schools, and international schools ask for IELTS scores. In addition, some countries like to see IELTS scores even for younger immigrants. Canada, for example, will consider IELTS scores for international migrants as young as 14.

    And of course, if you’re one of those ambitious and talented students who start high school at 17 or younger, it makes sense to take the IELTS before your sixteenth birthday.

    Are you ever too old to take the IELTS?

    The IELTS has no rules for maximum age and doesn’t even recommend a maximum age. Just as you’re never too old to have fun, you’re never too old to take the IELTS. (This is an especially apt comparison, as I’ve actually tutored elderly pensioners who are studying English and taking the IELTS just for fun!)

    By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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    • David Recine

      David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!