Student Experiences | IELTS Online Indicator Test Experience

Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by iSchoolConnect

The IELTS Indicator is available in countries where IELTS testing has been suspended due to COVID19. Ever since its launch in April, thousands of students have appeared for this online, at-home test. To know what they’re saying about the availability, format, and testing experience of the IELTS online Indicator exam, read on.

The IELTS, meaning International English Language Testing System, is a language proficiency test designed for non-native English speakers to assess their language skills. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, students had been preparing for weeks to take the test. But in light of safety concerns, test centers had to be shut down and students were advised to stay at home. This is when the British Council launched the IELTS Indicator – an online academic ‘at-home’ test designed to help students keep their education goals on track. “It’s a very helpful solution,” David, from TED-IELTS agrees. “But there are a few things you should keep in mind.” Read on to find out what they said, and know more about the IELTS online Indicator test eligibility requirements, booking procedure, and test experience.

Who is eligible for the IELTS online Indicator test?

The first thing you need to know about this test is that it is not a substitute for the regular IELTS exam. Not all institutes are accepting the IELTS online Indicator test scores. Those which are, have been listed here. So, before you start checking if you are eligible to take the test, make sure the universities you will be applying to won’t reject it. Otherwise, you will have to retake the exam at a test center once the lockdown ends.

“The first step is to decide if the IELTS Indicator is for you. If you don’t know for sure that your university will accept these indicative scores, you’ll have wasted your money and your attempt.”

That being said, universities understand the limitations caused by the COVID pandemic. So, even if a university isn’t on the list mentioned above, you can always email their admissions office and ask for special consideration.

Once you’re sure you want to take the test, see that you have the necessary equipment and set up in place before you register.-

  1. A quiet, private space to take the test
  2. A laptop or a desktop computer with either macOS or Windows operating system installed 
  3. The most recent version of Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge
  4. Speakers or headphones so you can hear the audio during your Listening & Speaking tests
  5. A microphone and a camera so your examiner can see and hear you during the Speaking test
  6. A stable internet connection
  7. A piece of paper and pencil for the Speaking test

“You need a reliable computer and a fast internet connection”

To conduct your Listening, Reading, and Writing tests, you will need to download the Secure Exam Browser and install it (for macOS users – before installing, go to ‘Security and Privacy’ settings under the ‘General’ tab, and select ‘App Store & Identified Developers’). For your Speaking test, which will be conducted on a separate day, you will be using Make sure you create your Zoom account with the same name you used for IELTS online Indicator test registration.

If you fulfill the stated requirements and have followed the installation steps thoroughly, your computer is ready to go!

How do I register for the IELTS Indicator test?

Now that you’re sure you fulfill all the equipment and environment requirements, it’s time to book your test. The test occurs once a week, every Wednesday, at a scheduled time. So, make sure you’re available for a length of 3 hours on the day of your exam. After you’ve selected your test date, create an account, fill in a form, and make your payment. The IELTS exam fee for the Indicator test is 149 USD. 

You will receive a confirmation email about the date and time of your Listening, Reading, and Writing tests, which will take place on the same day. The Speaking component of your exam will be conducted separately, a few days before or after the other sections. 

Can I reschedule or cancel my IELTS online Indicator exam?

Yes. You can transfer your test at any point before your exam date at no additional charge.

The cancellation policy, on the other hand, asks that you cancel the test up to 4 days before the test date if you want a full refund. If you cancel your test 3 working days or less before the exam date, you will receive a 75% refund. But if you cancel on your test day, no refund will be provided.

What to expect close to the IELTS Indicator test day?

Listening, Reading and Writing

About two to three days before your exam, you will receive a user name and a password in an email from the British Council. These credentials are sent to you in advance so you can test if the Secure Exam Browser is working on your system. To check, launch Secure Exam Browser on your PC and log in using the username and password sent to you.

“Make sure to keep in eye on your spam mail”

Once you’re logged in, you will see the date and time at which your Readiness Check will be conducted. Return at the scheduled appointment time, and select the ‘SEB Check’ option, then press the ‘Click here to get ready’ button. When prompted, click ‘Open Inspera-launcher,’ enter the SEB password, and press ‘OK.’ At this point, macOS users will see a dialogue box appear, asking for permission to access confidential information. Click on ‘Deny’ and proceed. 

Now, your computer will go into a lockdown mode, and you won’t be able to open any other tabs. You will see a set of instructions and a prompt to start an audio question. If you are able to hear the audio track, click ‘Yes’ and quit the Safe Exam Browser. If not, contact support using the details in the email you received.


After you install Zoom, enter a practice session to check that your camera and microphone are working fine. You can do this well in advance of your Speaking test.

“Use good quality headphones and speakers for the test”

Once you’ve performed all the system checks, find yourself a quiet room. Put your PC, your writing material (only for the Speaking section), and your ID on a desk. You are ready to take the test!

What is the experience of the IELTS online Indicator like?

Listening, Reading and Writing

The login instructions for the test are the same as the steps you follow during the ‘Readiness Check’ prior to the exam. Only now, after you’ve finished reading the instructions, you will have the option to adjust your screen and begin the test.

The IELTS online Indicator exam is not very different from the test conducted at an IELTS test center.

“The questions are exactly the same as the in-person IELTS exam”

It is a two and a half-hour long test, where you spend 30 minutes on the Listening section and an hour each on the Reading and Writing sections.

The British Council has released a helpful guide for students to go through before they take the exam. It has instructions on how to adjust the test screen, start the test, and navigate your way through the exam. It gives instructions on how to answer each question type in different sections.

“It’s true – we’re all accustomed to using writing materials. Not being able to make notes feels like a setback. But you will have the flexibility to go back and change your answers.”

Once you have finished answering each section, you can leave the Safe Exam Browser, and your computer will be unlocked.


At the scheduled test time, your examiner will send you a Zoom link to start the test. Follow the instructions in the email to join the meeting and wait for your interview to begin. Just like in the regular IELTS exam, your Speaking test will go on for 11 to 14 minutes and you will have 3 tasks to perform within this duration.

After the test is over, your examiner will end the meeting, and you will have exited back to your screen.

Should I take the IELTS Indicator test?

The British Council came up with the IELTS online Indicator to support students during these tough times. To that end, the test is an academic exam.

“The IELTS Indicator is only for students who are looking to prove their proficiency in English for the purpose of higher education”

Moreover, not all institutions are accepting the scores of this test. 

“Even if a university has agreed, in principle, to accept IELTS Indicator scores, it may ask a student to retake the test at a later point. We don’t know for sure. You will have to talk to the university you’ll be applying to.”

But if your college is firm in accepting IELTS Indicator test scores, and you feel prepared for the exam, we suggest you consider taking it. Setting up your PC and your room for the test is fairly easy, and the British Council is approachable in case you start facing any issues. Just make sure you have a stable internet connection and good quality equipment, and you’ll be ready to go!


As of June 4th, 2020, the British Council is reopening test-centers in permitted locations where it is safe to do so. Additional precautions have been employed to address the health & safety concerns of test-takers and students. These include wearing a mask, maintaining good hygiene, accommodating people in larger test-venus, and proper use of test equipment and writing materials. As you can see, the British Council is doing its best to support students during these trying times. Hopefully, the rest of the test-centers will reopen soon.

Still not sure if you want to take the IELTS exam? You can read more about the exam pattern, syllabus, and scoring, and even download an IELTS sample paper here. In case you’re planning to take other exams as well, we have collated a blog about Coronovarus’ impact on tests like GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL. If you’re looking for news on how college admissions are getting affected because of the pandemic, read our COVID19 updates. If you have any queries or doubts that need answering, please reach out to us at iSchoolConnect. We are here to help. Stay home, stay safe.

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