In order to ensure that the language ability of all test takers is assessed fairly and objectively, IELTS provides a comprehensive service for test takers who have special requirements, including specific learning difficulties, hearing difficulties and visual difficulties, medical conditions or infant feeding.
If you require a modified version of IELTS, you must give the test center three months’ notice. If your circumstances require special arrangements to be made, e.g. extra time, you must give the test center six weeks notice.
if you have special needs that may require a modified IELTS test version.
Special arrangements include the following:
- Extra time for medical conditions or infant feeding
- Braille papers
- Special Listening CD with necessary stops and pauses
- Lip-reading version of the Listening test
- Enlarged print or Speaking task cards in Braille.
Do you have a disability or special requirements?
We have a number of ways to help IELTS test takers who have special requirements, such as:
What do I need to do?It may take 3 months for some special arrangements to be made for you, so you should make your application as soon as possible through your IELTS test center.
What will the IELTS test center do?
Your center will:
- confirm the application deadline (this depends on the arrangements you need and is typically from two weeks up to three months before your test) ask for full details of your visual difficulty
- make the arrangements you need to take the test.
- If your center does not have the equipment or space you need (e.g. a separate room), they will do their best to help you to find a center that does.
There are lots of different options – choose what you need from the list below:
- Extra time
If you have visual difficulties, you will almost certainly need extra time to complete a paper. You can ask for an extra 25% of the normal time for the paper. You can ask for more than this if, for example, it takes you a long time to read the questions or write your answers. Remember, however, that too much extra time could make you very tired. You can also ask for breaks while taking a paper. Your center will tell you what you can have.
- Help with reading the question papers
If you cannot see or partially sighted, you may be permitted to use your own equipment to assist you in reading. You can ask to use the following types of equipment:
- handheld magnifiers
- screen magnification software
- screen reader software
- refreshable Braille displays.You can also ask for a reader. This is a person who will read and reread the questions to you. Please note, however, that in the Reading paper, the reader cannot read out texts to you and you are not allowed to use screen-reading software. Please also see section 8: Having someone read to you or write down your answers, below.
- Help with writing your answers
If you cannot see or partially sighted, you may be permitted to use your own equipment to write your answers in the following ways:
- Using any of the following machines:
- mechanical Braille keyboard
- electronic Braille keyboard, linked to a printer
- computer or word processor (though you will not be allowed to use the spellcheck, grammar check, thesaurus or similar functions
- Braille note taker.
- Speaking your answers to a person who writes them down for you. Please also see section 8: Having someone read to you or write down your answers, below.
- Writing your answers on a separate sheet of paper instead of using the computer-read answer sheet.
- Using any of the following machines:
- Braille question papers
Exam papers are available as:
- contracted (Grade 2) Braille
- uncontracted (Grade 1) Braille
- and from January 2016 in UEB (Unified English Braille)
- Enlarged print question papers
IELTS question papers are available in an enlarged font. We also take out any visual material which is not needed for answering the question. We then make large-print versions of the papers in A4 size. The print size looks like this:
(Usuallu 18 Point bold)
Special versions of the Listening test
Many of the questions in the Listening test ask you to make notes while you listen to a recording on CD. If you cannot see or partially sighted, you may not be able to do this. We can adapt the Listening test for you. The supervisor (the person who will give you your Listening test) will:
stop the CD before each part of the test to give you enough time to read the questions
stop the CD at certain points during each part to give you enough time to write one or more answers
stop the CD after each part to give you enough time to check your answers.
Special versions of the Speaking test
If you have visual difficulties, you can ask to:
have extra time if it takes you longer than usual to read any test material or decide what you want to say
have enlarged print or Speaking task cards in Braille
Having someone read to you or write down your answers
A reader is a person who will read the questions out to you. Please note, however, that they will not explain the questions to you or give you any advice. They can also read back your answers to you. You can also use screen-reading software to read back your answers to you. However, you must not use the spellcheck, grammar check or thesaurus functions.
In Reading papers, a reader is not normally allowed to read out texts to you and you are not normally allowed to use screen-reading software to do this.
If you want someone to write down your answers, you should note that:
you will be asked to spell certain words
you must also give the punctuation.
If you are having someone to help you with reading or writing down your answers, you should practice before your test. For example, make sure you can spell out the letters of the alphabet.
It may take 3 months for some special arrangements to be made for you, so you should make your application as soon as possible through an IELTS test center.
What will we do?
- confirm the application deadline (this depends on the arrangements you need and is typically from six (6) weeks up to three (3) months before your test)
- ask for full details of your difficulty
- make the arrangements you need to take the test.
Please note, all requests for special requirements are subject to approval.
What special arrangements can I ask for?
There are lots of different options – choose what you need from the list below.
1. Hearing aids, headphones and other equipment
In the IELTS Listening test, test takers:
- read some questions which are printed on a question paper
- listen to a recording
- write answers to the questions on a separate answer sheet.
If you have hearing difficulties, here are some ways we can help you:
- If you normally use a hearing aid, you may use it in the test, but remember to tell your center before the test.
- If you normally use devices such as wireless systems or personal FM systems, you may ask the center for permission to use this type of equipment. You need to ask your center at least 6 weeks prior to your test date.
- If you can hear with the help of headphones or special amplification equipment, you may ask the center for permission to use this type of equipment to hear the recording. You need to ask your center at least 6 weeks prior to your test date.
- If you are using headphones, the supervisor (the person who will give you your Listening test) must be able to hear and control the recording. This means they will listen to an external loudspeaker or use a second pair of headphones. You are not allowed to use a personal CD player, MP3 player or other similar device to listen to the recording.
- If you are using special equipment, such as special amplification equipment, you will normally sit the test in a separate room. Notify your test center at least 6 weeks prior to your test date.
2. Hearing-impaired (lip-reading) versions of the Listening test
You can ask for a hearing-impaired (lip-reading) version of the Listening test. Instead of playing a recording, the supervisor (the person who will give you your Listening test) will read out the material to you. They will read out each text twice. The supervisor will stop reading from time to time during the second reading. This will give you time to write your answers.
Make sure you:
- can lip-read a person who is speaking English
- practice with sample papers before the test.
It may be possible for you to practice lip-reading with the person who will give you your Listening test before you take the test.
3. Special arrangements for the Speaking test
If it takes you longer than usual to say things or to understand what people say to you, you can ask for extra time to complete the test. You are not allowed to use signing in a Speaking test.
4. Exemptions and endorsed certificates
If you have severe hearing and-or speaking difficulties, and the special arrangements listed above are not sufficient (for example, if you cannot lip-read), you can ask for exemption from taking the Listening test and/or the Speaking test. This means you do not have to take the test(s).
You must apply for exemption before taking your test. Ask your center for further information.
For IELTS, you can ask for exemption from one or two components. You will be given a score for the missing component(s) based on your performance on the other components of the test. This score will be used to calculate your Overall IELTS Band Score.
Your Test Report Form will have the following statement printed on it:
Due to extreme speaking-hearing (etc.) difficulties, this candidate was exempt from the Speaking-Listening (etc.) test(s). The Speaking-Listening (etc.) test Band Score(s) has-have been notionalized on the basis of the average of the other two-three Band Scores.