The international English language testing system (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test, and is now required for Private Hire driver licensees in London.
IELTS assesses all of your English skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking, and is designed to reflect how you will use English at work in the UK. The IELTS test is developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment. It has an excellent international reputation, and is accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including TfL.
IELTS is the most widely accepted English language test that uses a one-on-one speaking test to assess your English communication skills. This means that you are assessed by having a real-life conversation with a real person. This is the most effective and natural way of testing your English conversation skills.
Whether you take IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training, TfL require an overall score of 4 as part of your driver licence renewal/application.
IELTS test format
The IELTS test assesses your abilities in all four skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking – in less than three hours.
The IELTS test format is tried and trusted by organisations and test takers worldwide, and has not changed significantly for over 20 years.
You will take the Listening, Reading and Writing components of the test on the same day one after the other, with no breaks in between them (approximately 3 hours in total). They are always taken in this order. The Speaking component will either be after a break on the same day as the other three tests, or up to seven days before or after that. This will depend on your test centre.
Two versions of the test
There are two versions of IELTS; IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.
Everyone takes the same Listening and Speaking tests, regardless of which version they take. The Reading and Writing components differ in content, depending on whether you are taking IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training.
IELTS is designed to assess English language skills at all levels, and uses a 9 band scale.
You will receive a score for each test component – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. These individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an overall band score.
IELTS results are easy to understand and apply, and you will receive your scores within 13 days of taking the test.
Transport for London requires Private Hire drivers to achieve an overall band score of 4 for their licence.