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Studying IELTS

IELTS is one of the world’s most popular English language proficiency tests for non-native English language speakers who seeks to study or work where English is the language of communication.

What is IELTS?

IELTS is one of the world’s most popular English language proficiency tests for non-native English language speakers who seeks to study or work where English is the language of communication. It stands for International English Language Testing System and is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. This exam is taken for pursuing higher education and migration to global countries.

IELTS has continued to set the standard for English language for more than 30 years and the  exam is globally recognised and trusted by more than ten thousand organisations. So, if we take the test, we can be confident that it is recognised by many educational schools, employers across all domains, government bodies and many other professional bodies across the globe.

IELTS is rated on a scale of 9, non-English user being rated at 1 and an expert would be scored at 9; being fair to all learners completing the test and also avoids cultural bias. It accepts all standards of English from native speakers of  North America, New Zealand, Britain and Australia.

There are two types of tests and these are detailed below:

IELTS Academic: This will assess the English proficiency required for entering academic environments. This test is for people who want to apply for higher education or professional registration in English speaking environments and you will complete this test if the following applies to you:

  • You are wishing to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level. This can be anywhere throughout the world.
  • If you are looking to apply to a university which is a student route (Tier 4) sponsor.
  • If you are wishing to work for a professional organisation where the main language of the country is English.

IELTS General Training: This assesses the survival skills in the workplace and social environments. It is a basic requirement for migration to UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This test is for people who want to pursue secondary education, work experience or training programs in English speaking countries. You should consider this test if the following applies to you:

  • Wishing to study or train at a level which is below degree level.
  • Pursuing work or on the job training in a country where the main language is English
  • Wishing to emigrate to a country where the main language is English

There is also one more separate test available called IELTS Life Skills which is offered by IELTS test partners, and this is intended for people who wish to improve their English speaking and listening skills.

IELTS tests the test learner’s English proficiency skills by assessing the following components or modules:

  • Listening    >>30 minutes
  • Reading     >>60 minutes
  • Writing       >>60 minutes
  • Speaking   >>11 to 14 minutes

The total test time runs through 2 hours and 45 minutes. The overall score is calculated by averaging the individual test component scores and there is no pass or fail criteria; it is a band of scale starting with Non-User at 1 to Expert User at 9. Listening, Reading and writing skills can be taken in one attempt and the Speaking test can be taken on the same day or any day before or after 7 days of attending the other tests.

Listening Test

This module has four sections. The first two sections are based on social situations encountered every day. The first sections will have two speakers in conversation talking  about a topic such as travel planning for a holiday trip. The second section will have one speaker talking about topics such as local city facilities. The next two sections are based on situations in education and training environments. The third section will have two speakers in a conversation, such as two university students. Fourth section will have one speaker talking about any of the academic topics.

Reading Test

This is assessed by comprising different sections of reading texts from various books, journals, newspapers, magazines, work related, everyday topics, online resources, job descriptions, contracts, training material, general interest topics, etc.

This module has three sections and these sections are different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. IELTS Academic includes reading texts related to general topics of interest to undergraduate and post graduate students, which are picked from journals, magazines, online sources, newspapers, etc. IELTS General Training includes reading texts related to everyday topics, work related topics and general interest topics.

Writing Test

This is assessed by writing at least 150 words. The task can be an analysis based on graphs, charts, tables, maps, diagrams, etc. The task could also be to express points of view, an argument or problems, opinions, writing a letter response related to everyday situations or work-related situations, essays on general topics, etc. This test has two tasks which differ for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. For IELTS Academic, these writing topics are more academic environment oriented like graphs, presenting solutions to problems, justifying opinions, etc. And for IELTS General Training, topics would be related to everyday general interests like writing a post to the local newspaper, ban of smoking in public places, etc.

Speaking Test

This is a face to face interview between test taker and interviewer involving discussions based on information about test taker’s, family, work, interests, etc., or based on the task cards around specific topics. This module is divided into three sections. The first section covers the introduction and interview which may last for 4 to 5 minutes. Interviewer might ask test taker about themselves, their home, family, studies, work, hobbies and interests, reason for taking IELTS test and also some other general topics like how they spend their  free time, clothing interests, computers and internet.

The second section provides a task card to the test taker relating to a specific topic. Test taker is given 1 minute to prepare their talk on the topic given. The task card also includes the aspects to be covered by test taker on the topic. Test taker will talk for around 2 minutes, followed by a couple of questions by the interviewer. The third section includes 4 to 5 discussions between interviewer and the test taker on the general questions related to the theme given in the task card in the second section.

Who accepts IELTS certification?

IELTS is accepted by almost all academic institutions of Australia, Britain, Canada, Europe, Ireland and New Zealand; as well as over 3 thousand academic institutions in the United States of America. It is also recognised by various professional and government bodies across the world and many employers accept it for their non native English candidates. It also meets the standard requirements for Immigration Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the immigration authorities accept it similar to TOEFL and other Pearson tests. It is important to note that institutions are advised not to consider reports older than two years to be valid unless the user can prove that they have worked to maintain their level of fluency.

How to choose an IELTS training provider?