On the Authenticity of IELTS Academic Tests

Document Type : Research Paper


Ahvaz Branch, Islamic Azad University


The purpose of this paper was to investigate the authenticity of IELTS academic tests. Bachman and Palmer (1996, p. 23) define authenticity as “the degree of correspondence of the characteristics of a given language test task to the features of a target language task”. Authenticity is then an important aspect of testing since it describes the relationship between the test and the real world. The participants of this study included 80 Iranian IELTS test takers who took IELTS academic test in 2014 and 2015, and 100 lecturers of university and IELTS teachers. Twenty IELTS test takers also were interviewed to collect the required qualitative part of data. The data were gathered through a semi-structured interview and authenticity checklist. Descriptive statistics used to analyze the collected data. The findings of the study showed that IELTS academic tests are not authentic in terms of tone, format, channel, form and scope of interaction. Moreover, mostly the interviewees stated that answering the items in IELTS academic test requires specific techniques and test takers can not succeed without mastering these techniques.