What to wear for the IELTS exam?

Taking the IELTS exam requires extensive preparation and persistent hard work, and it is natural for a candidate to experience anxiety or tension the day before the exam, with the last thing on their mind being what to dress to the exam. But is it really necessary to dwell on it?

There is no official dress code for the IELTS exam, so you can wear whatever you choose as long as it is presentable and appropriate. Remember that anything you wear should be comfy because the exam is rather long and you should be comfortable with what you wear.

What to wear for the IELTS exam

It is critical to take care of your attire for both the LRW and Speaking tests, since irritation or discomfort may interfere with the smooth flow of your performance.

Here are some points that help you to plan the dress code while appearing for the IELTS exam

Getting Ready for the Listening, Reading, and Writing Exams

You can practically wear whatever is convenient to the LRW test, including your pyjamas! This is because there is no dress code and your test success is totally dependent on how you perform in the three modules, rather than what you wear. The examination is typically held in conference or banquet halls that are temporarily remodelled to suit the exam purpose. 

These halls may have a centralised air conditioning system, and in countries like India, where the climate is tropical, the AC will most likely be turned on. If you can’t take the cold, it’s always a good idea to wear a jacket or blazer. You don’t want your fingers to become numb when you’re writing!

Dressing for the Speaking test 

For the IELTS speaking exam, you are required to interact with an examiner for 11 to 14 minutes. The IELTS is not demanding about how you look during your speaking exam, but it is still suggested that you look your best. You cannot wear pyjamas here because you will be observed by an examiner!

However, anything semi-formal or smart casual would suffice. Here, too, comfort is important since it allows you to relax and concentrate on exhibiting your speaking talents to the examiner. You don’t want to be suffocated by your clothing and lose your breath when speaking.g. 

Men should only wear formal with ties if they are comfortable with it. Since the IELTS is an exam and not a job interview, semi-formal attire is appropriate. Ladies can wear whatever smart casuals or casuals they like as long as they are not too glazy and jittery.

A word of caution: avoid T-shirts with enormous distracting pictures or inappropriate prints or inscriptions. Candidates should remember that they are dressing up to attend an examination; they will only give you a score based on what you say, not what you wear (expensive, fashionable, or glossy clothes will not reflect in your band!)

Good Shoes will take you to places 

Another important aspect of your attire is the choice of footwear. Any comfortable shoes can be worn, although sneakers and flats are the most popular choices. However, never wear brand-new shoes to an exam because they might induce shoe blisters and negatively impact your exam performance because you won’t be able to focus due to the pain and irritation.

High heels and other high-end footwear should be avoided unless you are an expert at wearing them, since relaxing your feet is essential for general comfort. Some people find it more comfortable to remove their shoes during the exam; this is okay as long as they do not stink.

Strong perfume is a strict NO

At first glance, you may dismiss the idea that the perfume you wear has anything to do with the IELTS exam. It has something to do with it, but you won’t really comprehend it until you sit next to someone wearing a strong perfume and you feel like all your olfactory organs are about to explode from the head splitting fragrance.

Wear a moderate perfume or deodorant to the exam, especially the LRW exam, as there are usually 30 to 40 students taking the exam in the same hall. You don’t want to be the reason someone gets a low grade because of your pungent perfume scent.


You can adopt any hairstyle you like, but don’t go overboard with the accessories. Candidates with long hair may wear it in a bun or any style they desire for the LRW test.  You won’t want your hair falling into your face consistently and distracting you from the flow of attending the exam. 

Watches are another no-no 

You are strictly prohibited from wearing an analogue, digital or smartwatch to both the LRW test and the speaking test. For monitoring the time during your LRW test, a digital timer or a clock will be displayed in the hall positioned in such a way as it is visible to all the candidates. You can manage your time by observing this clock.

For the speaking test, it is not necessary to observe the time as the examiner would keep a tab on it and let you know precisely, especially during the Part 2 Cue card section, when you will have exactly one minute to prepare and two minutes to talk about a specified topic. 

For a fact, it is better not to wear any other accessories like bracelets, bangles or chains even if they’re not prohibited. There is a possibility that they may hinder the flow of your writing or get you distracted. Candidates frequently remove their bracelets or even their neck chains before beginning the LRW test. As a result, unless you are completely comfortable in them, it is recommended not to wear numerous accessories.


Though it is a classic saying that “dress maketh a man”, it is pointless when sitting the IELTS exam because there is no official dress code and you do not gain any extra points for dressing nicely. But it doesn’t mean you should dress shabbily; it’s always best to appear presentable, neat, and spruce, especially when taking a test.

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Shruthi Raveendran

I am Shruthi Raveendran, a TEFL-certified IELTS/PTE and ESL tutor who has 8+ years of experience working in the education industry. I am a passionate writer, logophile and film enthusiast

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