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What is IELTS?

IELTS is the acronym for International English Language Testing System. The IELTS test is designed to assess one’s abilities to comprehend the English language and use it for study or work purposes. It is the most recognized proficiency particularly required for access to higher education or procedures relating to global migration. IELTS is co-owned by the British Council, Cambridge Assessment English, and IDP: IELTS Australia. English speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand ask for language ability proof through IELTS band scores for immigration applications. Higher education institutions with curriculums in English require candidates to submit English proficiency results for admission.

Depending on the purpose you will use your IELTS test results for, there are two different test types: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. In both types of IELTS, the listening and speaking parts are the same whereas the reading and writing parts are completely different with regard to their purposes. IELTS Academic is formatted to measure the English language skills for study purposes. It is designed to evaluate the test taker’s academic language skills to conduct higher education. IELTS General Training is oriented towards daily use of the English language in the workplace or social circumstances.  

The IELTS test can be taken on paper or computer. It is up to the test taker to decide on the test format. However, there are no differences in terms of content or difficulty between IELTS on paper or computer.

Where Can I Take IELTS?

IELTS is conducted at authorised test centres. There are over 1600 test centres located in more than 140 countries. You can easily check the IELTS test centre in your country. You can search for test locations online. After finding the most suitable test centre you can proceed with the registration. Upon filling up the application form and making the payment, your IELTS test will be booked. You should receive a confirmation of your placement with the due date and time. Beware that the speaking test might be conducted at different locations before or after the other part consisted of listening, reading, and writing tests. Make sure to contact the nearest test centre in your area and ask for information firsthand.  

What Score Do Universities Require for Admissions?

Minimum IELTS score requirements for admissions to higher education institutions vary depending on the programmes and universities. International students are required to demonstrate satisfactory English skills to be admitted to programmes taught in English. IELTS band scores between 5.5 and 7.5 are accepted by most universities. Most educational institutions in the UK require a band score of 6.5 with a 6+ score obtained in all areas for admission to bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. 

The Test Format

IELTS assesses the skills of the test taker in listening, reading, writing, and speaking in the English language. IELTS scores range from 0 to 9. Band 0 means that you did not take the test while band 9 demonstrates that you are an expert user of English. Those who score higher than 8 can fully comprehend and use the English language fluently. The equivalent of band 4 in Common European Framework is A2, band 5’s equivalent in CEFR is B1, and getting a band 6 score means that the English proficiency level of the examinee is B2. Band 7 and higher scores indicate that the test taker is a proficient user of English. The test format is organized as follows for the assessment of four prominent language skills in less than three hours.

The IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing tests are taken on the same day in one sitting. Speaking tests can be set for another day, and you will have the flexibility to choose the date and time which suits your schedule. Those who fail to reserve their slots in a given time frame will be assigned automatic placements. 

IELTS Listening Test 

IELTS Listening test takes 30 minutes. It comprises four recordings and 40 questions to be answered accordingly. 

IELTS Reading Test

IELTS Reading test takes 60 minutes. There are 40 questions to be answered in relation to the given excerpts. It examines the test taker’ proficiency in comprehending logical arguments and the purpose of the writer, and analysing the main idea. The IELTS Academic Reading test may include texts from journals, scientific magazines, newspapers or course books with varying styles. The topics can be comprehended at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. The main ideas of the text can be conveyed through diagrams or graphs.  

IELTS General Training Reading test includes three different sections with different difficulty levels. In the first section, there are two or three short articles on everyday topics, and in the second section, there are two texts. The third section consists of one long text. IELTS General Training Reading test may include multiple-choice, match the headings and information, short-answer questions, identifying writer’s claims sentence completion, summary/flow chart/table completion etc.

IELTS Writing Test 

IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. The IELTS Academic Writing test comprises two sections. The first task requires the test taker to describe and analyse a visual source such as a graph, diagram, chart or table in an essay format. A minimum of 150 words must be written in 20 minutes. The second task asks the test taker to state an argument in relation to the given problem and discuss their point of view with consistency and a clear structure. A minimum of 250 words must be written in 40 minutes. 

IELTS General Training Writing also consists of two parts. The first section asks the test taker to write a minimum of 150 words in 20 minutes to reply to a given situation. The second task requires discussing a problem in a discursive essay. Assessment of the IELTS Writing test is based on the achievement of the tasks with coherence. Main marking criteria include a diverse vocabulary, grammatical range and accurate use of language.

IELTS Speaking Test 

IELTS Speaking test takes 11-14 minutes to assess the test taker’s English-speaking skills. The examiner records the entire process and executes the test in three sections. In the first part, the examiner asks questions to the examinee to make them talk about their family, friends, hobbies, education, work, and neighbourhood. The second part is the long turn where the test taker is given a task card to explain a topic with certain aspects. To explain the given topic, the test taker gets prepared for a minute, then they talk for 3 minutes. The third part brings on a discussion to assess the test taker’s ability to thoroughly discuss a given topic while organising ideas in a logical structure. 

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