Taking the IELTS for US Schools

The IELTS is one of the standardized English tests accepted by a majority of US schools. Many international students have concerns on whether they can take the IELTS for US schools and what the requirements are. Here is an introduction about taking the IELTS for US schools.

Who accepts IELTS scores in US?

Traditionally, students take the TOEFL for US schools and the IELTS for schools in UK and Australia. However, there is an increasing number of US schools accepting IELTS scores these years as well. Over 3000 institutions and programs in US accept IELTS scores as a proof of your English language ability. You can search your preferred universities on Who Accepts IELTS Scores and you will find out whether they accept the IELTS and what is the minimum score requirement.

For example, if you search Harvard University on that website, it will tell that your IELTS band score should be at least 7 for applying to Harvard.

the IELTS score requirement of Harvard University-magoosh

Is there any specific requirement?

Pay attention that the minimum score requirement may vary for applying to different departments. Some departments may have higher requirements on specific sections. For instance, applicants of Harvard Graduate School of Education  should have IELTS scores of 7.5 or higher with individual section scores of at least 7.5. Therefore, if you look for the requirement of a specific department, check the official admission website of your schools.

It is also possible that some departments of your preferred schools accept IELTS scores while some departments don’t. Take Harvard University as an example, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences doesn’t accept IELTS scores while Harvard Business School accepts both TOEFL and IELTS scores.

It is also likely that some departments will prefer IELTS scores than TOEFL scores or even only accept the IELTS. For instance, if you want to apply to the Chemistry Department of MIT as a graduate student, the IELTS is the preferred test. Besides, graduate programs of MIT Biological Engineering Department only accepts IELTS scores.

What kind of students may choose the IELTS?

From what I mentioned above, you can see that the IELTS is now more popular for US schools. However, the TOEFL is still the most widely-accepted test in US. If you want to take the language test before deciding which schools to apply to, the TOEFL will be a better choice. Otherwise,  consider the following suggestions!

  1. If IELTS scores are the only or the preferred choice of your dream programs, you will definitely take the IELTS.
  2. If your programs accept both TOEFL and IELTS scores, then check out the difference between the two tests and decide which one to take based on your own advantages and weakness. If you are good at paper-based test, face-to-face interview and prefer a shorter test, the IELTS will be a better choice for you.
  3. If you have taken TOEFL for multiple times but haven’t got good scores, you can try the IELTS.


By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Kuangyan

    Kuangyan creates IELTS blogs at Magoosh. She is passionate about language education and has a MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. Kuangyan has experience of teaching English both in China and in US. In her free time, she drinks mocha, does yoga, takes photos and travels to different places to explore the exciting world.

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