IELTS at British Council or IDP?

In my 11 years of experience with IELTS, I’ve never taken it with IDP. It’s always been with the British Council (BC). So, if you ask which one is better to take IELTS from, I clearly have no experience with IDP to give. So, this article is based on my experience and observation of both BC and IDP. And, I’m not talking about the facility as I know the facility is different among countries.

If I had to choose one for my next exam, it would be BC again, and here is why.

Some IELTS Myths busted!

Straightforward IELTS information

I find BC provides more straightforward information than IDP – this is the main reason I always chose BC for my exams.

The content of the exams at both organizations is the same (or at least, supposed to be the same). However, when reading information about the exam on both IDP’s and BC’s websites, I found BC’s instructions for writing and speaking less fear-mongering and more focused on the overall level of candidates’ English proficiency.

IELTS Vocabulary Collection

However, IDP’s website contains information about words that are considered “bad” for your writing, such as “nowadays”, which I believe is misleading. Reading that info, I felt like if I used “nowadays” even just once in my writing, it would be automatically considered “not good”. How is it a bad essay if the rest is superb but the first word is “nowadays”? Shouldn’t my essay assessed based on the overall level of my English throughout that essay? I am not saying that is what IDP meant when they put out this info. But I’m wondering if it is necessary.

IELTS Writing Task 2 simplified

In some countries like Australia, you can only take the exam at IDP so you may fear using “nowadays” in your writing because it is marked as “bad” on the website of IDP. But IELTS is one exam. Shouldn’t the assessing criteria be consistent across all managing agencies?

This is also one of the reasons it is so frustrating when it comes to preparation because available information is not consistent even among the organizations overlooking IELTS.

What should you do?

Before we get better information, here’s my suggestion.
– If you are going to take IELTS at BC, follow BC’s instructions.
– If you are going to take IELTS at IDP, follow IDP’s instructions. So if IDP doesn’t want you to use “nowadays”, you have no other option but to avoid it.

But keep in mind that nothing can beat practice. No matter what words you use, you should look at the overall level of your English in the writing. The high scores depend more on topic-related vocabulary and grammar, not only “nowadays” and “firstly”.

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Huyen Nguyen

Founder of Practice9, creator of IELTS with Huyen. Huyen has 10 years of experience with IELTS, overall 8.5.

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