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The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

What is the IELTS test verification service?

If you’ve been wondering how universities check and validate your IELTS test results when you apply, we have the answer. We explain what the IELTS test verification service is and how it works.

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As an international student, taking the IELTS test is a rite of passage. A good IELTS score is your ticket to university acceptance and studying for your chosen degree. Taking an IELTS test means that you will enjoy the integrity and reputation that the test has globally. A reason for this reputation is the test security and the accuracy of results. That's why universities have confidence in the results. We explain how the process of IELTS test result verification works.


What is the IELTS test verification service?


The IELTS test verification service ensures the integrity of IELTS test results for universities, professional bodies, and organisations. It is an added layer of security for both test candidates and institutions to prevent the falsification of IELTS results and scores.  


Your IELTS test result, outline on the test report form (TRF), has several inbuilt layers for authentication including, security-enhanced paper, your photograph, an IELTS stamp, and a stamp of validity. When you present your TRF to a university as proof of your IELTS score and English language ability, they can use the online verification service to double-check it is genuine and accurate.  


Read more about the benefits of taking the IELTS test.


How does the IELTS verification service work?


Firstly, institutions and organisations that use the IELTS verification service generally register their details on the IELTS website. This is useful and allows you to search for your prospective institution on the site. You can find out what their entry requirements and minimum band scores are. In addition, you can get a university’s contact details and a link to their website.


Institutions and universities are required to officially register for the TRF verification service, by providing key documentation. Each will have an authorised administrator/s who will use the service, and universities often have this access not only in the admissions office but also in faculties and departments.


Once you submit your TRF to a university, the following steps are followed:


  1. Your certificate and TRF are checked for authentic stamps, biometrics, and paper quality.
  2. The form number is then entered into the TRF verification service online.
  3. The information on the TRF is cross-referenced with that of the online database
  4. The TRF is then validated as accurate and reliable.


If no matches for the information are found on the IELTS verification database, this may not automatically mean the TRF is invalid. A university will then:


  1. Verify the date when the IELTS test was taken. Results can take between 12 and 48 hours to be uploaded to the service.
  2. Re-enter the information to ensure that the data has been added correctly.
  3. Check for any technical issues.
  4. Communicate directly with IELTS providing the TRF number and a scanned copy of the TRF.


You will be notified quickly by a university if any issues with your TRF are found.


Find out how to book and register for an IELTS test.


How long does a verification check take?


The reference check on your IELTS TRF should usually not take more than 10 minutes to complete. However, it is usually part of the wider application verification process at a university. You won’t hear back immediately or even at all if there are no issues. You are usually notified of the status of your application within a few weeks to a month after applying. 


Don’t forget that when you submit your TRF to a university, the test will need to have been taken in the last two years. While the IELTS test verification service does keep records of all tests dating back almost 20 years, most institutions will not accept test results older than 24 months. The primary reason for this is that the IELTS test is an indication of English language proficiency for a given period, which may improve or decline over time.


Discover more about how to prepare for the IELTS test.


What exactly is the IELTS test report form?


The IELTS TRF is a paper-based copy listing the exact results of your IELTS test for all sections. The form will show your IELTS scores for readingwritinglistening, and speaking. You will also see your overall IELTS score reflected. It is also possible to preview your results online. Some of the other information included on the TRF are:


  • Your personal information (name, DOB, etc...)
  • Nationality
  • First language
  • Test centre stamp
  • IELTS validation stamp
  • TRF number


Your IELTS TRF is sent via post or can be collected from the IELTS test centre. The TRF is not sent using email, and results are not given over the phone. The TRF is usually available 13 to 14 days after the test has been completed. You are encouraged to contact your test centre if you have any queries regarding the TRF.


Hopefully, you have a better idea of how your IELTS test results are checked and validated. If you want to do some more research you can read our guide to understanding the IELTS test and discover the differences between IELTS and TOEFL. If you want to check the IELTS test scores required for university admission our course matcher can help.


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