Is it Possible to Cheat on the IELTS?

Is it possible to cheat on the IELTS? The most likely answer is “no.” IELTS test centres have strict security rules that make cheating almost impossible.

Is it possible to cheat on the IELTS by bringing in a “cheat sheet”?

Sneaking a copy of the IELTS answers into a test centre is not possible. The questions seen on test day are not published anywhere else beforehand. So there is no way to get an actual answer key before one sits the IELTS.

Some would-be cheaters might consider bringing in a vocabulary guide or grammar rules. This too is regarded as cheating, and test centres take measures against this practice. IELTS test-takers must empty their pockets before they enter the testing room to sit their exam. And of course, books and notepads are not allowed either. Not only that, but hats, scarves, and heavy jackets may not be worn in the testing room. This makes it very difficult to hide any pieces of paper containing tips and tricks for better IELTS performance.

The smuggling of digital information is also blocked by the IELTS’s security measures. Cell phones, handheld computers, and cameras are not allowed on test day. (The ruling against cameras additionally prevents test-takers from recording the IELTS’s unpublished test questions and passing them on to other would-be cheaters.)

Even if a test-taker is able to secretly bring an illegal item into the test centre in spite of security, actually using this information would be difficult. Test centre staff regularly move about the test stations and monitor test-takers. If an IELTS test-taker pulls out a cell phone or piece of paper, they’re likely to get caught.

Is it possible to cheat on the IELTS by sending someone else to take the exam for you?

The IELTS has also taken measures against test center identity fraud. People who take the IELTS must submit a copy of government-issued photo identification when they register for the exam. This identification must be presented again on test day. The officials at the testing site will carefully at the identification and at the face of the actual test-taker to make sure there’s a match. Then the test-taker’s photo will be taken right at the IELTS centre. After the IELTS is completed, the test day photo will be forwarded to an IELTS security office, where it will be carefully compared to the face on the government ID that was used for IELTS registry.

The takaway

If you clicked this article, hopefully you are simply curious about IELTS security, and are not actually thinking of cheating on the IELTS exam. If you are thinking of cheating, I strongly advise against it. With the IELTS test’s tough security rule, even trying to cheat would be a lot of work, and you would probably be caught.

It would be less work to simply study for the exam and do your best when you sit for it.

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!

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