IDP or British Council: Which is best for IELTS?

Which is best for IELTS, British Council or IDP? Where should you take your IELTS test?

  • There is no difference between the IELTS test at the BC and in IDP.
  • There is also no difference between examiners and marking in the BC and IDP.

Who owns IELTS?

Both IDP and the British Council are part owners of IELTS along with Cambridge English Language Assessment. This means they are all one company. Learn more information about the IELTS Test.

IELTS Test Difficulty Level

IDP and British Council conduct IELTS tests but they do not write them. All tests used at the BC and IDP are compiled by Cambridge English Language Assessment who is one of the joint owners of IELTS.

This means you will get the same tests if you are at BC or IDP.

IELTS Examiners & Marking at IDP & BC

All examiners for IELTS, both IDP and BC examiners, are trained in the same way, following the same guidelines.

Listening and Reading answers are marked clerically. They are based on right or wrong answers. Each right answer gives one point and your score is calculated based on the number of right answers. So, this never differs between test centers.

Writing and Speaking are marked by an examiner. All IELTS examiners, for both IDP and BC, complete the same training course, follow the same marking criteria and also the same band score descriptors. Examiners are also checked regularly to ensure they are not marking too high or too low.

Accents

IDP is Australian and BC is British but they both use a range of accents. In the listening test, you will get a range of accents (even American sometimes). In the speaking test, the examiner could come from any country and have any accent. You can use any accent you want in your speaking test: Australian, British or American.

IELTS Band Scores:

How to Choose: British Council or IDP?

  1. Choose a test center close to your home.
    1. The listening, reading and writing test is 2 hours and 40 mins. You will need to arrive at your test center feeling fresh and ready to concentrate. Choosing a test center near your home will help you do this.
  2. Check if the listening test uses speakers or head phones.
    1. Most students prefer to use head phones because they can concentrate better. You might want to check with your test center which they use.
  3. Test Dates in IDP or BD
    1. Decide which center offers you the test date you want. You should always take the test when your IELTS skills and English language is strongest. Also make sure you frequently hit the score you want in practice tests before booking your real test.

Share your Experience

Post a comment with your experience of BC or IDP for an IELTS test. Give some tips to other students.

 

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Comments

  1. Hi ,
    can you please suggest how to improve the speaking and is there any online speaking form where i can practice my Speaking with foreigners ?

  2. Irfan Ahmed says:

    IDP or BC (Academic)

    1.L,R,W:
    The questions in sections (L,R,W) of both BC and IDP appears exactly same on any particular day. Probably same question paper.

    2.Speaking:
    In my observation, speaking test in IDP is >1-1.5 minutes longer than BC.

    3.Results:
    Evaluation of all the sections is conducted in the same way.
    Test results solely depend upon one’s performance.

    4. Availability of Test dates:
    In India, for BC book slot at least 3-5 weeks prior to test date and for IDP 1-2 weeks.

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂 The IELTS speaking test can last between 11 and 14 mins. This means the test can vary in length – it does not relate to the test center.

  3. Jewel Nguyen says:

    I took Ielts Acedemic with IDP Saigon on 4 Mar 17 and Ielts GT with BC on 8 Apr 17 in Saigon. I don’t think there is difference of difficulty level of test content but there are a number of differences in the way they organise the test as following in order of test procedures:
    (i) text message: IDP message is to remind the place, and time of the test date, and the ID document you should bring up to the test while BC message appears like a threatening message that if you don’t bring the right ID document, you will be rejected.
    (ii) on the test date: IDP offers to keep your baggage with a receipt, BC offers to keep baggage as well without any receipt and states a disclaimer that they would not responsible for any loss or damage to your baggage. Thus, if your bag is mistakenly misplaced or taken by other test candidate, that’s you bad luck.
    (iii) inside the test place: IDP provides water bottle while BC doesn’t. That’s so mean.
    (iii) feedback form: IDP provides right after the reading/listening/writing test and BC doesn’t. They only provided to me when I insisted twice, one after sitting test and after listening test
    (iv) arrangement of listening test: BC has more corporate client with some priorities to those clients. I registered both tests same 3 weeks before the test date and they couldn’t arrange the listening test on the same day for me as they need to priorities to their corporate client. On the same date I took the test with BC, 2/3 of the candidates are from a school. Well, no complaint here. it’s just your choice.
    (v) test result: IDP provide the option to inform test result by registered phone number. BC doesn’t have that option.

    It’s just trivial things, so you can make up your mind if you don’t mind them.

  4. Hi Liz,

    I am preparing for IELTS General test, following your videos and sample tests on the website.
    I am improving in other sections, but couldn’t when it comes to speaking.
    I am an intermediate level speaker, can speak on a average pace with friends but cannot speak spontaneously. Though the IELTS speaking part 2 topics looks very simple, due to lack to spontaneous answers, not able to frame sentences in short duration and lack of putting taught into sentences, I couldn’t talk more than few seconds when I tried testing myself with a recorder.
    Please suggest me ways to overcome the problem and how do prepare for speaking test ?

    • How many topics and ideas did you prepare for your test? You should have so many ideas in your head that you have plenty to say in your test. Part of your IELTS speaking and writing preparation is to prepare ideas for all common and recent topics.

  5. Gurinder says:

    I already give exam from British council and got overall 6
    And
    Now I again decide to give exam from British council
    Am I correct?
    Because students told me that they have previous result of yurs and give marks according to previous one ….
    Plz give me right suggestion….

  6. FrustratedIDPtaker says:

    Just took an IELTS test with IDP
    unfortunately the headset went static while I was taking the listening test resulting to me missing 2 items and being not able to regain my focus for a few more items.
    They said they can’t do anything about it.

    I might try british council if I won’t get a good band on listening due to the technical glitch.
    It is so frustrating that IDP didn’t make a way to compensate for what happened.

    • That is a real shame and would make anyone angry. It’s shocking that they are not checking their equipment more carefully and more frequently. You should put in a formal complaint.

  7. Dear Liz,
    Please provide me your contact details. I need to speak to you about teaching method.

  8. Hi! I will be taking mg IELTS exam this coming January. I am planning to take my exam in Vietnam. Can you suggest w/c test center should I apply for the exam. BC or IDP.
    Thank you in advance.

  9. Many people says that writing in BC will get more markks compairing to IDP is it correct because I have attempted 2 times in IDP. Please help me guys

  10. hi I am planning on taking IELTS again this coming january
    I have already tried twice with BC
    I need 7 all but I only got 6.5 in writing
    I didn’t know that there is another test center which is IDP
    I’m pretty sure that my writing was quite alright and I even score 7 in writing whenever I write an essay and have it checked with my tutor.

    If I take IELTS with IDP will it make a difference. Help pls. God Bless

  11. hii liz,
    i always lose half band score in writing in three attempts
    in first attempt i got 5.5 and in second attempt i got 5 and in last i got 4.5

    what was the main reason behind this
    i am really very upset

  12. As the exam is same…idp us way better in terms of service and providing results on time whereas british council will keep on delaying without any further notice..

  13. i gave my ielts speaking exam 1 and 3 part was well performed but in 2 part i speak out off topic of cue card i think i will score low band give some suggestion about result

  14. Hello Liz,

    I received 1 band in Reading …but I had given blank answersheet as I had forgot to enter answers in the same….How come they give 1 band if you have not at all attended single question….

  15. Hi..I read some comments that NMC only accept results from BC and not IDP..is this true?

  16. Shiva Kumar says:

    Hi

    I am applying for Immigration for Canada, Can someone suggest which is the Best one to choose since I am from India.

  17. Hi Liz. Im also confused with how BC and IDP grades especially in writing. As I attend a review in IELTS, they told us that in BC the pattern of writing especially in Task 1 is: Introduction, body, overview (conclusion/summary). but in IDP it is Introduction, Overview and body. I took the IELTS last 2006 in IDP and again took it twice this year in IDP. My score in writing last 2006 is 7 and I used the format Introduction, body, and overview. This year, I still used the same format but I got only 6.5 on both exams. Im about to take another exam this October and I want to know if this is true. Can you please enlighten me with this one Liz? Thanks so much.

  18. savroop says:

    idp or bc result?????

  19. Rushabh C says:

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks a lot for your videos and posts, proved quite useful for me. With test material in hand and all the tips and guidelines from your videos, I was able to get a good IELTS score.
    Listening 8.50
    Reading 7.00
    Speaking 8.00
    Writing 7.00
    OverAllBandScore 7.50

    Thanks a lot

  20. Hi Liz,

    I have a query with related to Writing task in IELTS.

    Can we use words whose origin are other than English in writing task?
    Eg) cliche – from French

    • If you can find it in an English dictionary, you should use it. “cliche” is often used in English.

      • Hi Liz, I am a silent follower of your blog. I had my speaking test yesterday. I stammered thrice and paused more than once. I felt really bad especially that i used the idiom “come again”when i did not pick up what the question was, out of instinct. Then, i noticed that the examiner was asking me just one to two follow up questions that i was done with it in less than 9 minutues. Hence, I am not sure if
        it’s because she was tired or my english skills are really bad. By the way, the topic was about garden i visited, stupidly, i described a mangrove conservation park i visited a month ago… and not a traditional backyard garden. I was so nervous then.

        • Sorry I didn;t see your comment before. Contact me again if you still have questions. I hope your results were ok.

  21. Gagandeep kaur chahal says:

    hi Liz mam,
    my exam of idp is on 14 july…last tym i score 5 bands in speaking nd listening ..tell me how can i improve these….plzz answer me quickly

    • I think with your current level of English and the way you use short form of words and tenses, Examiner has done a great help by marking you at band 5. We should appreciate him/her for his/her patience and being lenient.

  22. Hi Liz , I want to know benchmark and bc , ukvi are different ilets or both are are same if I want to do benchmark ilets in general where I get materials.

  23. anyone in newzealand having ielts bc exam on 18 june plz contact me its urgent i m from india my contact 9041520221 watsap me if anyone

  24. Sunny Shergill says:

    Hlo everyone!
    I booked my ielts test for ukvi on 4 june. Is there any difference between bc and ukvi bc. Is there anyone who have appeared for this test. Please share your views as well as your tips regarding this. Is this test easy or difficult. I am so nervous😰. Please help me….

    • there is no diffence between BC and UKVI BC bots tests are same and marking pattern is also similar of both centres

  25. Gino Ann kurian says:

    I am a beginner, idont know where to start, please guide me…

    • Go to the home page and watch the preparation video. Then start reading the information page. After that, start practicing and learning 🙂

  26. Where are these IDP centres in England?

  27. Rana atique says:

    As you told there is no difference between IDP & IELTS. But some of collegues told me that speaking an writing task is easier in IDP than that of IELTS?? Is this or not

  28. Louxiong SIAKOR says:

    Dear Liz,
    I am preparing to IELTS for my test next month. and I faced problems on how to create the introduction paragraph. Could you help me on this topic below:
    Some people believe that environment problems will be increased in the future. To what extend do you agree? Use your onw opinion and include any relevance examples.

  29. hi mam,
    I am from punjab, India.
    i have done my speaking exam. i used a word twice time. Is it affected to my speaking score?. i need 6.5 as i got 6 in last time. This time my examiner was a male and came from south India and last time my examiner was a lady from UK.
    Please suggest me some latest writing topics as my LRW is pending it will be on 28th May.

  30. I’m going to have an exam on June in Philippine. I heard that Idp’s interviewers are stricker than BC, also Idp’s interviewrs are philippinos,while BC’s are native. Which one do you recommend Idp or BC?Please answer my question quickly.

    • hello kevin. i am from the same country as you are. are you done with your exam. how was it. actually i heard rumors that it is more comfortable to have the exam from bc. looking forward to hear from you. God bless you!

  31. Sorry..but writing and speaking are subjective and depends on the examiner who may give u half point less or more which may make huge difference..as u know many students r looking for 7 in each area.

  32. I took the IELTS test for three times already in the Philippines. Yet, I always got 6 in writing. I need 7 in all the sections. I am planning to take my IELTS in Singapore. Can someone advise me if my decision is right?

    • hello there ruby. i think it really matters to study and focus on your goal. if you are going to take ielts in other countries yet you still study the way you did before, it will just give you same results. i believe that if you really want to have something you got to do everything you havent done yet for you to achieve your goal. you can do it. just study diligently and strengthen your weaknesses.

  33. Hi Liz,

    Done my test with BC and got 7. Speaking test questions were not the same. My examiner was a woman and the questions were all about social media. After i took the test, i asked one of the candidates who was a girl. This time, she was interviewed by a male examiner and she told me that the questions were different from mine.

    Any comment about this? Thanks!

  34. Tran Hoang Thao Nguyen says:

    I’ve just taken IELTS at IDP, and they are really helpful and kind. They prepared me a bottle of water, pencils and reminded me to the test carefully. They also served free meals alter The Writing, Listening and Reading Test.

  35. Kumail Hassan says:

    Hello Liz,
    I am agree with you. People suggested me to go for IDP. I did the same but unfortunately I did not get my required band. After that I took IELTS test organised by BC and got my band improved. I think, band depend upon your luck and preparation not on the IDP or BC. Both are same. According to my point of view, your Speaking band depends upon the examiner. Go for the head phone side for listening if you think that you will be more comfortable in presence of head phones.
    So don’t worry about selecting IDP or BC. Just be prepared well.

  36. Hi Liz

    How can o improve listening different accent any source which cover all British English Australian accent .any suggestions for spelling improvements

  37. Barjinder Kaur says:

    Well According to me and as per my experience, I feel IDP is best , as there was a lot of uncontrolled environment when I had taken test under BC .

  38. khial jan says:

    I like IDP because it is easy and students can solve IELTS overall sections.
    while on the other hand, BC is somehow, difficult as i listen from my teacher.

  39. AKM Mahmudul Haque says:

    To me NO difference !! However, it may vary from country to country.

    I took two tests in 4 months difference and got higher mark from BC( latest one). Both exam hold in almost similar conditions. Both BC and IDP allowed me to write on reading and writing qyestion papers.

    My suggestion is , please do not worry so much about the BC or IDP, and get well prepared instead.

    Good luck.

  40. Hi Dear Liz,

    İ took test on May 21, But İ am not sure about writing part to get acceptable score so I want to book again for June 18. And both centres in my country offer exam on that date. Will tests be same in both centres?
    thank you
    vusal

  41. I would say there is a difference between BC and IDP. I have been to tests held by these two organizers. I found listening, reading and speaking in IDP are easier to get a higher band than BC.

  42. yes I agree.. IDP is bettert than BC , I am currently in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh and from my experience IDP is more organized.

    • SA Samah,
      I’m going to take my exam after ten days in Riyadh as well. I’m still confused on which centre I should choose. Some ppl say that the IDP examiners are more friendly and you can gain more band score there, especially in speaking. What do you think from your experience?

      • Thanks a lot dear. I already registered in IDP, my exam on 4th of June hope I can get 7

      • I’m going to have an exam on June in Philippine. I heard that Idp’s interviewers are stricker than BC, also Idp’s interviewrs are philippinos,while BC’s are native. Which one do you recommend Idp or BC?Please answer my question quickly.

    • Parveen Sultana says:

      Samah
      I am in Riyadh and going to take IELTS. Can you tell me they use headphones or speaker for listening section. Also did you get same listening and reading as in BC or different on your day. Do you feel the evaluation is better in IDP. Please reply. I would really appreciate your help.

      Thanks
      Sultana

  43. I’m terribly sorry it’s a question.
    I registered my exam with the BC in my country Nigeria, exam date was 7th of May 2016. Untill now, I haven’t received my results. I’ve been checking it on IDP and it keeps saying “no candidate result found”. Please can you give me a link to check my result from BC. Thanks Liz

    • I suggest you contact your local test center or ask them on their facebook page. Sometimes results are withheld for checking – it’s quite normal.

      • Dear mam thnx a lot for ur Fantastic Website.i have a problem in my exam of 10 sept.on that day was my speaking exam i gave the answers well but in my cue card i was Speaking of my cue card but examiner stopped me is it okkk??

        • It’s normal for the examiner to stop you when you are speaking in part 1 and part 3. In part 2, the examiner must stop you at the end of 2 minutes.

    • hi unche
      could you tell me about your writing topic of 7th may test?

  44. Patricia says:

    Actually there is a difference. Countless students of mine have complained that the BC does NOT allow then to write on their reading papers or their writing papers. This is s general complaint on an international scale.
    I have advised them to stand up for their rights and demand that they be allowed to make notes. ….after all. .we teach them this..underlining key words etc.
    I suspect the BC just want to reuse the papers. ..which I find deplorable.
    Any comments? Has this happened recently to anybody else?
    Please forgive typos….am using my phone.

    • Shruthi says:

      Hi Patricia,

      I appeared for IELTS in BC two days ago. I was allowed to write on the question paper.
      There were no restrictions as such.

    • buddhika sandaruwan says:

      hi liz,
      please reply regarding above matter. because i am gonna apply exam through BC on next month. i am highly appreciate if someone post a comment about this, who sat to the IELTS recently.

      • Hello I agree with the difference between BC and IDP but there is a major difference is that some countries and institutions prefer one like for Australia you need to take exam with IDP for UK you need result from BC. So better check before.

      • Dr. Prajyot Sawarkar says:

        I’ve taken from BC got 7.5 no <7.
        They allowed me to write on the question paper. No restrictions for that.

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