Minimum requirements for IELTS
You do not have to have any specific level of English before you can take the IELTS test, although of course it is likely to be a waste of money to sit the test if you are anything lower than pre-intermediate level. The minimum age to sit IELTS is 16 years old.
IELTS for migration
One of the most common reasons people take IELTS is when they are moving to an English speaking country. In countries like Australia, for example, points towards your immigration application are awarded depending on your IELTS result. Getting a good result can often mean the difference between your application being accepted and being rejected. The most common IELTS test for immigration is the General Training.
IELTS for overseas study
If you are planning to study in an English speaking country, you will often need to take IELTS. The exact result you need will depend on which institution you are applying to study in and what course you are planning to study. Masters degrees typically ask for results of 7.0 or higher, whereas Diploma courses can be as low as 5.0. Be careful of language schools or smaller institutions that allow you entry to courses when you haven’t met the entry requirement – it could be that you are then required to study a short ‘pre-study’ English course (which of course you will have to pay for!). Always check the exact requirements before studying overseas.
IELTS for professional registration
IELTS is also the standard used in many countries to prove language ability before people from non-English speaking backgrounds can register as doctors, nurses, dentists and other (often medical) professions in an English speaking country