Can I Buy an IELTS Certificate?

Among the many questions people ask us, one of the strangest is: “Can I buy an IELTS Certificate?” Of course, the question has a simple answer: no. But the fact that it comes up so often means that it’s worth talking about. As we’ve discussed before, we are living in strange times. Even though many things have changed in the world since the pandemic began, it remains true that life has to go on. People are resuming their plans for migration and study. Understandably, many of them are looking for shortcuts when it comes to IELTS.

The simple truth is that there are no shortcuts. This is because IELTS, and the organisations that provide it, are serious institutions. They have strict protocols to eliminate fraud, and this is part of why IELTS remains the gold standard in English language testing. But the good news is that you don’t actually need shortcuts. It is possible for you to get the scores you need, with the right guidance. With this in mind, we’re going to discuss the factors that have enabled fraud to flourish on social media. We will also describe the alternative route – the one that you should take. Finally, we will look at some language for describing fraud and dishonesty, which will help you excel if these topics come up in your IELTS exam.

The Purpose of an IELTS Certificate

Firstly, let’s talk about what an IELTS Certificate is. It’s a document that you receive when you complete the IELTS exam. Typically, it takes a few days for IELTS to process your results and issue your certificate. The certificate gives an overall band score out of 9, as well as an individual score for each of the four tests. These tests are Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. This certificate is a legal document. It is a testament to your English language ability. Institutions use this document to substantiate your application, whether it be for purposes of migration or study.

This isn’t the end of the story, however. Before issuing your results, the relevant authorities record them in a database. This means that your results can be verified in the event of loss of the certificate. There is, of course, nothing unusual about this. Institutions can then check your claims against this database. Diploma fraud, also known as qualification fraud, is unfortunately big business, so national authorities and institutions have developed ways to detect it. Sadly, not all scams are obvious. Sometimes they mimic the colours and layout of a genuine IELTS website. If you feel that you are dealing with a scammer, it’s always a good idea to take these concerns to the official IELTS site.

How IELTS Certificate Scams Work

If you’ve spent any time on social media you will know that there is a fairly large cottage industry around the sale of fake certificates. Usually, they advertise ludicrous promises. The most obvious are those that demand a small fee in exchange for an IELTS Certificate with the scores you want. I would show you some, for their sheer comedic value, but I don’t want to give airtime to any of this nonsense. A more subtle breed of scammers throw in an additional service. They might offer to assess your English, to give you an idea of how you would score if you actually took the test. They then promise to give you a set of fake results that is close enough to your actual profile to avoid rousing suspicion. These are professional people, after all.

Needless to say, it’s all nonsense. In the very best possible case, someone who buys one of these documents might dupe a migration agent. Upon arrival at the destination, however, the fraud will become obvious the moment he or she tries to submit the certificate to a college or employer. At that point, legal proceedings may well ensue. It gets worse, though, because such a person will have no recourse to the law. After all, the scammer who sold the document can simply reveal the communications that show that the buyer knew what he or she was getting into. Everybody loses, both the applicant and the institution. The only person who wins is the criminal.

I’ll Never Get the Score I Need!

Many people fall into traps like these because they feel desperate. They feel that they will be unable to score high enough to gain admission to their college or new country. Of course, we can have sympathy for people in this position. But the truth is that IELTS, while challenging, is not as frightening as many people think it is. The problems that people most often highlight can all be overcome with some attention to detail. Improving your English language ability has in fact never been easier. This is because of the technology and interconnectedness that characterise the world in our times. Improve your English, and your IELTS score will improve.

Describing Lies in English

And while we are on the topic of lies and the English language, we may as well look at some language. After all, topics connected to fraud and deception can come up in the IELTS exam. You might hear a lecture about online fraud in the listening test. Or, you might read about counterfeit currency in the reading test. The examiner in your speaking test might ask you to talk about a time when you told a lie. Similarly, task 2 of the writing test could be an essay about crime and punishment. Let’s look at some common words, phrases and structures that you can use in English to describe situations in which things are not what they seem.


Sometimes, you know that something is false, but you don’t want to come right out and say it. Perhaps you want to be subtle, while still making your point. English is full of devices like this. If you are very unhappy with your child’s teacher at school, you might refer to “that so-called teacher”. Your hearer or reader will understand that you think this person is very incompetent. But it’s not always meant in a derogatory sense. If a scientist refers to “the so-called strawberry”, he is drawing attention to the fact that while we think of a strawberry as a member of the berry, it isn’t really. This is the kind of subtle language that can make all the difference when you are trying to discern a speaker’s point of view in the listening test.


If you put the prefix ‘pseudo’ on any word, you are showing that you think it is fake. So, if you call someone a ‘pseudoscientist’ you are saying that he or she is a quack, or a liar who pretends to be knowledgeable, but isn’t. In speech, you can even draw a distinction between “real” experts and the “pseudo kind”. Don’t do this in writing, though, as it comes close to being slang.


This word relates directly to the topic we’ve been discussing. For example, an online scammer might offer you a counterfeit IELTS Certificate. You can use this word as a noun or an adjective. So, for example, you might refer to a counterfeit IELTS Certificate (adjective), or you might point to a dollar bill and call it a counterfeit (noun). You can also use the verb in the continuous aspect. You could report that “Police uncovered a criminal operation counterfeiting cash”.

Smelling Rats and Crying Foul

These are two idioms that you can use to describe a time when you realised something was wrong. An even simpler way to say this: “I knew something was up”. This means that you had the realisation that someone was trying to deceive you or others. If you smell a rat, you detect that something is wrong, but you’re not quite sure what it is. You can smell the dead rat in the ceiling, but you haven’t yet found the corpse. On the other hand, if you feel more confident that you have unearthed some criminal scheme, you can cry foul. This means that you draw attention to the problem so that other people can address it. It’s similar to the expression “to blow the whistle”. Be careful with this one, because it’s wrong if you use “a” instead of “the”. We’ve discussed what happens when idioms go wrong before.

Getting an IELTS Certificate the Right Way

IELTS doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, preparing for it the right way will pay dividends when you end up your destination. The work that you put in to get the best score you can on IELTS will equip you to use English freely in your new work or study environment. To live and work in any country, familiarity with the language is essential. Those countries that are generous enough to award citizenship to migrants will be all the more enjoyable for you as a foreigner or immigrant if you are able to communicate without difficulty. If you have had any negative experiences in connection with social media scams, get in touch with us today. Our team of experts is ready to help.