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Evolution of IELTS

IELTS began as ELTS in 1980, made by the British Council and Cambridge University to test English skills for UK study awards. IELTS, which came after ELTS, still has similarities, like global testing centres and face-to-face speaking tests. Changes from ELTS to IELTS include fewer academic modules, a four-part test, and more involvement from Australia. Which became a widely respected test worldwide, but some criticized it for focusing too much on English from native speakers. Moreover, IELTS has changed over time to suit global needs while keeping some features from its predecessor, ELTS. To check how good IELTS is, we need to see if it’s measuring what it’s supposed to measure. It was built on British ways of teaching English and has evolved. Experts suggested new ideas for how it should work, but there’s no agreement.

At first, the English proficiency test was for students, but it later became part of immigration procedures, raising some concerns. Using IELTS for immigration has caused issues. Some countries have set strict rules based on IELTS scores for immigrants, even though the test might not be the best measure of their English skills. Although IELTS is preferred, it may not always be the best fit for all purposes, especially for immigration, which involves other factors. Read more.

Did you know that IELTS was once known as ELTS (English Language Testing Service)?

Challenges of IELTS

IELTS was slow to embrace computer-based testing but introduced an at-home version, IELTS Online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This option was available alongside traditional paper and computer versions from 2022. The landscape of proficiency testing is evolving rapidly as new tests offer features like lower cost, remote access, and automated scoring. However, concerns about validity persist, especially regarding automated scoring’s accuracy in assessing language skills.

Balancing the needs of academic and non-academic users within a single test remains a challenge due to their differing requirements and priorities. Because of this, Nigerians take the IELTS exam, even though English is our official language. This thought has echoed through many Nigerians and observers alike, raising questions about the necessity of an English proficiency test for individuals hailing from a country where English is widely spoken and understood.

You see, the IELTS isn’t just any old English test. It’s like the VIP pass to studying in places like the USA. Sure, we Nigerians speak English, but the IELTS checks if we speak it well enough to handle university-level stuff like listening to lectures, reading textbooks, and writing essays. But here’s the exciting part. You can study in the USA without IELTS. Some universities, like the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Arkansas, are making it easier for Nigerian students. They welcome us and accept alternative qualifications like WASSCE English language scores.

So, what are your options to show off your English skills without the IELTS? Here are some options: You can provide evidence of enrollment at an English-language university, take other English proficiency tests such as TOEFL or Duolingo, or even complete conditional admission programs. Please follow us closely as we provide lists of universities in the US that do not require IELTS. 

What is IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardized test for English proficiency for non-native speakers who wish to study or work in an English-speaking country. It is conducted or owned by the British Council, IDP (International Development Program), IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. Over 10,000 institutions across 140 countries worldwide recognize it.

Types of IELTS 

  • IELTS General for work
  • IELTS Academic for study

The academic module is for people who want to study at the university. The general training is for people who want to move to another country and need English proficiency or to study at a level below university. Be sure to determine whether you need an academic or general training IELTS qualification if you have a definite plan to use one.

How can I show I’m good at English without doing the IELTS exam? 

Some universities might let you use other tests like TOEFL, Duolingo English Test, Cambridge English tests, or your past academic work in English. As we delve deeper, we will see other alternatives for these universities. 

Here are some easy-to-understand options for applying to study in the USA without IELTS scores

  • Previous Education: Some US institutions may waive the IELTS requirement if your past education was in English. But each university has its own rules, so check their requirements.
  • Test-Optional Universities: Some US schools don’t need standardized test scores, including IELTS. However, submitting scores could boost your application.
  • Conditional Admission Programs: Some universities let you start without IELTS scores, but you’ll likely need to take English courses in your first semester or year.
  • Other English Language Proficiency Tests: Some universities accept tests like TOEFL or Cambridge English instead of IELTS. Check each school’s requirements.

List of Universities to Study in The USA Without IELTS For Nigerians

Here are the universities that allow you to study in the USA without IELTS as a Nigerian student.

  1. The University of Dayton – you must have done an Intensive English Language Program (IELP) and PTE.
  2. California State University – you must have attended secondary schooling or above for three academic years in Nigeria and a few other countries.
  3. University of New Orleans (UNO) – Nigerians are not required to provide IELTS. 
  4. The University of Colorado – you must be a native of an English-speaking country or have completed an academic year in the USA. (TOFEL or DUOLINGO)
  5. The University of Delaware – you must possess proof of ELI (English Language for Internationals)
  6. Drexel University – you must show proof of the University Preparation Summer Program (UPSP) and Bridge Programs for international students.
  7. The University of Arkansas –you must have done an Intensive English Language Program (IELP).


So there you have it! While the IELTS is a widely recognized test, it’s not the only way to showcase your English proficiency for studying in the US, especially for Nigerians. With alternative options like previous English-medium education, other proficiency tests, and even conditional admissions programs, you have a path to your American dream university.

Don’t let the IELTS stop you from applying to study in the USA. Research universities that align with your interests and explore their English language proficiency requirements. With preparation and these valuable alternatives, you can be well on your way to studying in the USA! Start your application here.

Share this article with your friends interested in studying in the US.


Author Ojochide

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