New biometric technology for global English testing

IELTS, the International English Language Testing System and the world’s most popular English language test for higher education, has introduced biometric measures – including finger scans – to verify the identity of test takers.

Worldwide, more than 8,000 education institutions, governments, professional registration bodies and employers use IELTS to provide measurement of English language proficiency.

Candidates are tested on listening, reading, writing and speaking. All tests are scored on a banded system from one (the lowest) through to nine (the highest).

IELTS, which is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment, said the new security protocols incorporated finger scans in jurisdictions where this was permitted, along with high resolution photography. The photo captured for each test taker would appear on their test report form.

Developed by the IELTS partners in consultation with security experts, the new measures were designed to fit the purpose of high-stakes language testing, IELTS said in a statement.

Governments accepting IELTS test results had welcomed the measures and positive feedback had also been received from test takers, who appreciate the time saved by the use of finger scanning technology to enter test rooms on test day.

“Our tailor-made biometric systems are in use from the test taker’s arrival on test day right through to completion of their test,” said John Belleville, IELTS director at IDP IELTS.

“Admissions staff can access the IELTS verification service website to see for themselves the high resolution photograph we capture of each person who presents for the test.”

There is a choice of two versions of the IELTS, for both academic and non-academic purposes.

IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed for higher learning. The tasks and texts are accessible to all test takers, irrespective of their subject focus.

IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations.