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When Should I Take the IELTS?

Deciding that you are going to take the IELTS exam is a big decision. You will have to commit a lot of your time to studying to make sure you pass the test. You will also have to make a lot of other decisions, as well. Where will you take the test? Where will you send your scores? What score do you need?

One of the decisions that you will need to make is when to take the exam. If you take the exam too soon, your scores may be invalid by the time you need them. If you take the exam too late, though, your scores will not be ready in time, or you may not get the results that you need. You can avoid this from happening by carefully planning when to take the test, so you will have the scores you need, when you need them.

Taking the Exam Too Early

You have to plan way ahead to take the IELTS exam too early. However, once you have taken the IELTS, the scores are not valid forever. Because your English language skills change over time, the scores you receive on an IELTS exam are only valid for two years after the date of that exam.

If you are planning to use your IELTS scores in the distant future, make sure they will still be valid when you need them.

Taking the Exam Too Late

On the other hand, taking the exam too late can also be a problem. After an IELTS exam, it takes 13 days for the scores to get reported. Even if you end up getting the scores you need, if you needed to send your IELTS scores under 13 days after the exam, you will not be able to make it happen.

Giving Yourself Time for a Retest

Another thing that you should consider is giving yourself time to take the exam again, just in case you don’t get the scores you need the first time. If you are trying to get into an English speaking school, and need a Band 6 to enroll, you don’t want to get a 5.5 on your exam and not have time to retest.

You can prevent this from happening by planning ahead. When you enroll for the IELTS, find out when you need to send your scores, first. Take into account the fact that it takes 13 days for your score to come out, after the exam. Then, when you sign up to take the IELTS test, don’t take the last exam offered before your deadline. Instead, sign up to take the test a few weeks before your deadline. This way, you will have time to take the test again if you don’t get the scores you need.


Taking the IELTS exam on time is crucial. If you take the exam more than two years before you need to send your scores, they will be invalid and you will have to take the test again. If you take the test less than 13 days before your scores are needed, they will not be reported, yet. Additionally, the later you take the exam, the more you risk not having the scores you need to get where you want to go.

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