Cambridge IELTS Pretesting

What are IELTS pretests?

In a nutshell, pretests are ‘future tests.’


As part of Cambridge’s commitment to quality and fairness, all the exam materials are subjected to a number of tests and procedures to ensure they are accurate and reliable. One of these quality procedures is pretesting.


Is “pretesting” the same as practice tests?

No. Practice tests are retired exams that are no longer used. Pretesting uses questions that may or may not appear on future exams.


Pretests are also longer than the actual IELTS tests because they contain more questions. The Listening pretest takes 30–40 minutes. The Reading pretest takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Writing pretests take 1 hour.

How can they help students and teachers?

Pretests give learners a chance to practice taking Cambridge English exams using genuine English questions under exam conditions. After taking the Reading, Listening and Use of English papers, the pretesting candidates are given scores.


Writing papers are marked by trained Cambridge English Language Assessment examiners and candidates receive detailed feedback about how they performed in the Writing test. This helps learners to know which areas they need most practice in, and gives them experience and confidence in taking tests.


For teachers, it helps highlight areas where their learners might need more help and attention.


Who can take a Cambridge English pretest?

All candidates must have ability of IELTS Band 4 and above. Ideally candidates must be following or have recently completed an IELTS preparation course. 

When should I take my pretest?

It is advised that students take pretests a minimum of at least two months before their live exam. This helps you and/or your teacher to get your pretest scores back in time to focus on any particular language areas you may be in need of practice.

What else should I know?

Pretest papers are marked in Cambridge, and scores are returned within three weeks. Writing papers are sent to Cambridge examiners for individual comments, so these scores and reports may take up to four weeks.


Pretest administration simulates the real IELTS exam, so that students not only experience the kind of questions they will face in their live exam, but also complete the answer sheets in a ‘test-like’ environment. 


The number of pretests available are limited, particularly for Writing, and while we will try to supply the number of papers you request, we cannot guarantee this.


Would you like to take a pretest?

It's free!  There is no cost to pretest.


Cambridge and Vantage will bear all the expenses but we have minimum requirements such currently being at IELTS Band 4 and ideally you are following or recently completed an IELTS preparation course.


For more information or to book a pretest, send us an email from this page and put “IELTS Pretest” in the subject line.

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