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Overcoming Common Challenges in Meeting the IELTS Requirements for USA Study Visa

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing Systemis not only one of the most popular but widely accepted English proficiency tests for immigrant students who want to gain higher education in the USA.

However, meeting the IELTS requirement for either a USA study visa application or your university admission is a bit of a challenging task but it is possible to qualify for the exam with proper planning and implementation.

Some points to know about the IELTS exam

  • The difficulty level of the IELTS exam depends on an individual’s capacity as for someone who finds listening or reading sections difficult while writing and speaking sections might be the hardest part for others.
  • Also, the government has set only one eligibility for taking this exam and that would be your age must be 16 or above. You can go through either of the modes whether paper-based or online depending upon your requirements.
  • It is not like you need your IELTS score for all the American universities but good enough for some of the topmost universities in the USA. So, if you want to be admitted to one of them, you need to qualify for your IELTS with a distinction.
  • The US government has made it mandated that the minimum requirement is at least 6.0 not less than that for their visa application process.

Why is the IELTS score important for getting admission to one of the esteemed universities in the US?

IELTS is a standard test to check your language proficiency and conversational skills. And, the USA is a native English-speaking country that makes the IELTS exam one of the essential eligibility criteria for getting placements in universities like Harvard.

Apart from IELTS, there are other language proficiency tests being also accepted by some but more than 3000 American universities prefer IELTS scores in order to assess the applicant’s English conversational skills.

Minimum IELTS Score Requirement for these top 10 universities in the USA

You will need an overall of at least 6.5 bands of IELTS score in order to get admission to one of the recognized universities of the USA. However, it can vary with the university ranking and the selection of an opted course. Here is the list of the top ten American universities competing on a global level and its IELTS requirements.

Name of the UniversityIELTS score Requirements
Harvard University7
Stanford University7
Yale University7
Columbia University7
California Institute of Technology7
Princeton University7
University of Pennsylvania7
University of Chicago7
New York University7.5

What would be your IELTS score for applying for a US study visa?

As far as applying for a US study visa, a minimum of 6 or more is good enough but if you score a straight 7 in your speaking section of IELTS then it would be an advantage. However, it also relies on your college criteria and the selected educational program.

It would be recommended that you try aiming for IELTS scores similar to your university as consulates will mostly prioritize the same. Otherwise, you might face issues while applying for a US student visa.

What will happen if your IELTS score doesn’t meet the expectations?

Though students scoring 7 or 7.5 bands will be given more preferences than 5.5 ones, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get the opportunity to study in the US. There are universities accepting low scorers but potential students who have a strong academic record and portfolio.

Also read, The Ultimate Guide To Rescheduling Your USA Tourist Visa Appointment

How can you prepare for your IELTS while planning to study in the US?

There are no special tricks or shortcuts to prepare for an IELTS test but with time management and smart work planning, you can easily achieve what you desire. However, your planning must depend on these factors;

· Weak or Soft Spots

If you are consistently solving previous sample questions of the IELTS exam, you know your weak spots already. Work on these separately and get help from professionals if needed.

· Time Limitations

Ask yourself clearly, how much time I have or the number of hours I can put into practice. If you know your time restrictions, you will work well.

· Selected Course

So, if you have selected any highly demanding course with a casual approach to IELTS preparation, that definitely isn’t going to help you. Take your university eligibility score as your target and make your mindset like that.

· Daily Routine

Suppose you are working a full-time job and you have a jam-packed daily routine. What are you going to do? Plan your schedule with the mindfulness that suits you the best.

Also read, Why Is Studying In The USA So Unique For Foreign Students


According to the immigration rules, a minimum of 6.5 bands of IELTS is required for the US student visa application process but it also depends upon the course and a particular you have chosen. So, if you are planning to pursue science-related or engineering degrees from one of the topmost American universities, you should be targeting more than 7 bands at least.


1.  Which is preferable for a US study visa: IELTS or TOEFL?

IELTS has been given more preference and is widely accepted by most esteemed universities in the US. Yet, TOEFL is still considered a standard test for some colleges due to having a similar format and difficulty level to IELTS.

2.  Can I still be eligible to study in the US if I don’t opt for IELTS?

Yes, you can study even if you don’t take IELTS. However, you are left with fewer options for universities that accept other tests than IELTS.

3.  Is self-preparation and studying enough to crack the IELTS exam?

If you are confident in the plan you follow to approach and crack this exam then yes, self-study is sufficient in that case.

4.  What would be the registration fee for the IELTS test? Also, is it higher compared to other tests?

The registration fee for Indian students would be INR 16,250 and it is not the highest.

5.  Are there any other academic requirements for taking IELTS?

No, apart from age eligibility there will be no other academic requirements.

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