The Nuts & Bolts of Being
an IELTS Test Center in a
College Setting
2010 NCTA Annual
Atlanta, GA
• Deborah Smith
Testing Center Manager
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
• Akiko Aharonian
Testing Office
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
• Richard Halstead
Regional Manager - US Test Center Network
IELTS International, Los Angeles, CA
What is IELTS?
• Four skills test – Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking
• English as an international language
• 2 modules – Academic and General Training
• Pen and paper delivery, face to face Speaking test
• 3 international test partners – Cambridge ESOL, British
Council, IDP: IELTS Australia
Test Format
Total time = 2 hours 55 minutes
4 sections, 40 items (40 minutes)
Academic Reading
General Training Reading
3 sections, 40 items (60 minutes)
3 sections, 40 items (60 minutes)
Academic Writing
General Training Writing
2 tasks (60 minutes)
2 tasks (60 minutes)
1:1 oral interview (11-14 minutes)
Expert User
Very Good User
Good User
Competent User
Modest User
Limited User
Extremely Limited User
Intermittent User
Non User
Did Not Attempt the Test
• Over 6,000 organizations globally
• 3,000 US institutions and programs
• Test Report
Form Verification
• Electronic score
Candidature and test centers
• over 1,490,000 candidates tested globally in 2009
• US candidature:
• students applying for graduate and undergraduate study in
the US, Britain, Canada and Australia
• applicants for immigration to Canada and Australia
• healthcare professionals applying to work in US hospitals
and for US permanent residency
• test locations in 130 countries
• 40 US anchor test centers operating 45 test locations
Why become a test center?
• Develop a new income stream - testing at your center and
• Provide professional development opportunities to campus
• Open new markets - attract new students to your campus –
offer wrap-around products
• Provide a service to your students and the community
Application Process
• Application form and computer requirements
• Business case questionnaire
• Site visit
access / secure storage / staffing / testing rooms /
promotion / candidate processing / customer service
• Service Agreement
Set up
• Business plan including marketing plan
• Where will the center be housed and managed?
• Provide office and storage space
• Computer with internet, printer, scanner
• Recruit
• IELTS Administrator
• Examiners (Speaking and Writing) from faculty and local
• Clerical Markers (Listening and Reading)
• Invigilators
Local test administration
• Local promotion of testing services
• Processing and confirmation of candidate online
registrations, including collection of fee
• Test rooms to deliver paper based test and face to face
Speaking test
• Marking completed onsite and results issued from
• Candidate customer service
• IELTS staff and materials management
• Breakdown of income and costs / one candidate (2010)
Test fee collected from candidate:
Less fee remitted to IELTS International:
$ -80.00
Less estimated local costs testing one candidate: $ -63.50
Estimated gross total per candidate tested:
$ 41.50
Becoming an IELTS Center
• Establishing a Service Agreement Between IELTS Inc. and
your institution. This is a contractual document that will
need to be reviewed and authorized by the Dean, Director
or appropriate governing authority at your institution.
• Key obligations of the Service Agreement:
– Establish test dates and capacity
– Make all the necessary arrangements and meet all
reasonable costs for IELTS test delivery and
– Register candidates and collect all test fees
Becoming an IELTS Test Center
• Key obligations of the Service Agreement:
– Provide all staffing for administration and delivery of
the test (recruiting, hiring, training).
– Adhere to the IELTS Code of Practice with particular
reference to the security arrangements
– Attend the mandatory IELTS Annual General Meeting
held every 18 months for updates and training.
Staffing your IELTS Test Center
• IELTS Administrator: designated staff person who
oversees all facets of test delivery and staffing.
• Administrative Staff: personnel who register candidates,
respond to inquiries, enter test scores, issue test results
• Clerical Markers: trained to grade the listening and reading
answer sheets
• Proctors (Invigilators): if you have an existing proctor pool,
they can be trained as IELTS invigilators
Staffing your IELTS Test Center
• Examiners: experienced educators with a recognized
qualification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other
Languages (TESOL)
– Recruit from ESL/English Language Programs
– Application process includes review by Examiner
Trainer and interview
– Induction: general overview of IELTS prior to training
– Training: 4 day intensive training program, center to
provide copies of all training materials and meals
– Certification: assessment tool for the marking criteria
University of Washington
• Changes in screening methods for English Proficiency
• Testing Center capacity and resources
• The impact of University overhead charges
Test fee collected from candidate:
Less fee remitted to IELTS International:
$ -80.00
Less estimated local costs testing one candidate:
$ -63.50
Estimated gross total per candidate tested:
$ 41.50
Less 18% overhead rate on revenue (18% of $185)
$ -33.30
Estimate gross total per candidate tested:
University of Arizona
• Marketing / Candidature
– Regional demand for test is still developing
– Marketing challenges
• TOEFL versus IELTS
Undergraduate PBT 500 iBT 61 IELTS 6.5
PBT 550 iBT 79 IELTS 7.0
• Off-Site Testing = Test Portability and Accessibility
– Extended services to Phoenix and Las Cruces, New