I took the IELTS exam a week ago and on the way home I started to remember to have written 'color' on one answer and then it came to my mind: Do I loose marks if I write the American spelling of words on the IELTS exam? I did not see anywhere making it clear whether or not it is acceptable.


Official IELTS site states (bolding is mine):

IELTS treats all test takers with the utmost fairness and respect by actively avoiding cultural bias, and accepting all standard varieties of native-speaker English, including North American, British, Australian and New Zealand English.


As the commenters suggest below, it should be noted that your style has to be consistent. Once having chosen a particular standard, you must adhere to it.

  • 2
    @luizfzs Back when I was taking it (some 2 years ago) I remember there was a tiny disclaimer on the pages of the actual exam that you have to stick to just one (but any) variety of spelling throughout the exam. I'm not sure if that causes one to lose points, but you still might want to be more careful next time. Jun 8 '17 at 16:11
  • 4
    To paraphrase what @Gallifreyan says: if you wrote color, traveled and realize throughout, you’ll be fine; if you wrote colour, travelled, and realise throughout, you’ll also be fine. But if you wrote color, but travelled and realise, you’ll probably get a mark off, because that combination does not belong to any “standard varieties of native-speaker English”. And if you wrote color in one place and colour in another, you’ll almost certainly be marked down, because that’s just inconsistent. Jun 8 '17 at 16:37
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA I've done it
    – olegst
    Jun 13 '17 at 9:23
  • Yes, I saw but I can't upvote twice :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 13 '17 at 20:32

You can write either color or colour, both are correct. I also gave the exam on 3rd June 2017 in Teaneck, and asked the invigilator the same. She told me you can write either, it's fine.

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