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IELTS

What is IELTS

About IELTS - IELTS (International English Language Testing System) tests students for English proficiency across the globe. Conducting 1.7 million tests globally, IELTS tests are held in over 800 centers up to four times a month. IELTS respects international diversity and is fair to anyone who sits for the test regardless of a student's nationality. IELTS tests all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. The speaking test is a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner. It is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.

Over 6000 organizations and more than 1.7 million test takers around the world trust and recognize IELTS as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation.

IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) through more than 800 test centers and locations in over 130 countries.

IELTS Eligibility Criteria

Anyone can take the IELTS test, there is no minimum education qualification required for taking the test. Candidates below 16 years of age are not eligible to apply. IELTS is an eligibility test for candidates who want to migrate to English speaking countries.

IELTS Paper Pattern

IELTS has four parts – Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11–14 minutes). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are done in one sitting. The Speaking test may be on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests.

Who accepts IELTS?

IELTS is the world’s proven test. Due to its high quality controls, IELTS is accepted by thousands of organizations in over 135 countries. 

  • Universities, schools, training colleges, tertiary institutes
  • Government departments and agencies
  • Professional and industry bodies
  • Multinational companies and employers

The IELTS Global Recognition Systemcan tell you exactly which organizations accept IELTS and the scores they require.

Start your journey to international study or employment with an IELTS score.

IELTS Paper Pattern

The International English Languages Testing System (IELTS) is widely recognized as a reliable means of assessing whether candidates are ready to study or train in the medium of English. IELTS is owned by three partners, The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, the British Council and IDP Education Australia (through its subsidiary company IELTS Australia Pty Limited). The main purpose of this book of Practice Tests is to give future IELTS candidates an idea of whether their English is at the required level. Further information on IELTS can be found in the IELTS Handbook available free of charge from IELTS centers.

What is the Test Format?

IELTS consists of six modules. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules. There is a choice of Reading and Writing Modules according to whether a candidate is taking the Academic or General Training version of the test.

Academic – For candidates taking the test entry to undergraduate or postgraduate studies or for professional reasons.

General Training – For candidates taking the test for entry to vocational or training programmes not at degree level, for admission to secondary schools and for immigration purposes.

The test modules are taken in the following order.

Listing

4 sections, 40 items

30 minutes

Academic Reading

3 sections, 40 items

60 minutes

General Training Reading

3 sections, 40 items

60 minutes

Academic Writing

2 tasks

60 minutes

General Training Writing

2 tasks

60 minutes

Speaking

10 to 15 minutes (11 to 14 minutes from July 2001)

Total test time

2 hours 44 minutes

Listening -

This is in four sections, each with 10 questions. The first two sections are concerned with social needs. There is a conversation between two speakers and then a monologue. The final two sections are concerned with situations related to educational or training contexts. There is a conversation between up to four people and then a monologue.

A variety of question types is used, including: multiple choice, short-answer questions, sentence completion, notes/chart/table completion, labelling a diagram, classification, matching.

Candidates hear the recording once only and answer the questions as they listen. Ten minutes are allowed at the end to transfer answers to the answer sheet.

Academic Reading -

There are three reading passages, of increasing difficulty, on topics of general interest and candidates have to answer 40 questions. The passages are taken from magazines, journals, books and newspapers. At least one text contains detailed logical argument.

A variety of question types is used, including: multiple choice, short-answer questions, sentence completion, notes/chart/table completion, labelling a diagram, classification, matching lists/phrases, choosing suitable paragraph headings from a list, identification of writer’s views/attitudes – yes, no, not given.

General Training Reading -

Candidates have to answer 40 questions. There are three sections of increasing difficulty, containing texts taken from notices, advertisements, leaflets, newspapers, instruction manuals, books and magazines. The first section contains texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English, with tasks mainly concerned with providing factual information. The second section focuses on the training context and involves texts of more complex language.

The third section involves reading more extended texts, with a more complex structure, but with the emphasis on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts.

A variety of question types is used, including: multiple choice, short-answer questions, sentence completion, notes/chart/table completion, labelling a diagram, classification, matching lists/phrases, choosing suitable paragraph headings from a list, identification of writer’s views/attitudes – yes, no, not given, or true, false, not given.

Academic Writing -

There are two tasks and it is suggested that candidates spend about 20 minutes on Task 1, which requires them to write at least 150 words and 40 minutes on Task 2 – 250 words. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.

In Task 1 candidates are asked to look at a diagram or table and to present the information in their own words. They are assessed on their ability to organise, present and possibly compare data, describe the stages of a process, describe an object or event, explain how something works.

In Task 2 candidates are presented with a point of view, argument or problem. They are assessed on their ability to present a solution to the problem, present and justify an opinion, compare and contrast evidence and opinions, evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or arguments.

Candidates are also judged on their ability to write in an appropriate style.

General Training Writing -

There are two tasks and it is suggested that candidates spend about 20 minutes on Task 1, which requires them to write at least 150 words and 40 minutes on Task 2 – 250 words. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.

In Task 1 candidates are asked to respond to a given problem with a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. They are assessed on their ability to engage in personal correspondence, elicit and provide general factual information, express needs, wants, likes and dislikes, express opinions, complaints, etc.

In Task 2 candidates are presented with a point of view, argument or problem. They are assessed on their ability to provide general factual information, outline a problem and present a solution, present and justify an opinion, evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or arguments.

Candidates are also judged on their ability to write in an appropriate style.

Speaking -

(A revised Speaking Module will be operational from July 2001.)

This consists of a conversation between the candidate and an examiner and takes between 10 and 15 minutes. There are five sections:

  1. Introduction - The examiner and candidate introduce themselves and the candidate is encouraged to talk briefly about their life, home, work and interests.
  2. Extended discourse - The candidate is encouraged to speak at length about some familiar topic of general interest or of relevance to their culture, place of living or country of origin. This will involve explanation, description or narration.
  3. Elicitation - The candidate is given a task card with some information on it and is encouraged to take the initiative and ask questions either to elicit information or to solve a problem.
  4. Speculation and Attitudes - The candidate is encouraged to talk about their future plans and proposed course of study. Alternatively the examiner may choose to return to a topic raised earlier.
  5. Conclusion - The interview is concluded. Candidates are assessed on their ability to communicate effectively with native speakers of English. The assessment takes into account evidence of communicative strategies and appropriate use of grammar and vocabulary.

Registration for IELTS

IELTS is a standardized test to measure four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. One can take IELTS in over 500 locations worldwide. IELTS is available on 48 fixed dates a year – up to four times a month, depending on local demand. IELTS has a set fee for its test. The Academic and General Training tests are of the same cost.

To register for an IELTS test, follow these 7 simple steps:

  1. Find your nearest IELTS centre and check the test dates to find two options that suit you. Note the deadline for registering for each test date. You can also see the cost of the test at your centre in local currency on the IELTS Worldwide Search
  2. Check with your organization or on the Global Recognition System whether you need to sit an Academic or General Training test.
  3. Print out the IELTS Application Form or ask your test centre for a copy. Read the information for candidates, terms and conditions complete the form and sign it. Please make sure you have a valid postal address and use the same name as on your passport. In some centers, candidates may be able to register for the test online. Please refer to the test centre's website for further information.
  4. Organize two passport-sized photographs, less than six months old, and sign the back of each. Please note, you must not wear glasses in the photographs you submit for IELTS registration.
  5. Take a photocopy of your current passport – this must be valid and not expired. (Some centers will accept a national identity card.)
  6. If you want your Results to be sent automatically to a university or educational institution, include the correct details in the section on the IELTS Application Form.
  7. Take your application into your IELTS test centre with your money. If you send it by mail, please talk to your centre about the method of payment.

Once you have registered, the test centre will confirm your IELTS test date, time and venue. Please note the Speaking test can be up to 7 days before or after the test date. On the test day, you must bring the same passport or national identity card that you entered on the IELTS Application Form.

IELTS Score Format

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) and offered through over 800 test centers and locations in over 130 countries. International teams of writers contribute to IELTS test materials. Ongoing research ensures that IELTS remains fair and unbiased. Test writers from different English-speaking countries develop IELTS content so it reflects real-life situations.

IELTS Score Format

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates are graded on their performance, using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The Results from the four parts then produce an Overall Band Score.

This unique 9-band system measures scores in a consistent manner – wherever and whenever the test is taken. It is internationally recognized and understood, giving you a reliable international currency. IELTS scores have a recommended validity period of two years.

IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores in a consistent manner. You receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.

Test Report Form will be posted to you 13 calendar days after your test date. All test centers will post your Test Report Form to you. Keep your Test Report Form in a secure place as you only receive one copy. Some test centers provide SMS alerts and an online Results service.

How is IELTS Scored?

IELTS Results are reported on a nine-band scale. In addition to the score for overall language ability IELTS provides a score, in the form of a profile, for each of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). These scores are also reported on a nine-band scale. All scores are recorded on the Test Report Form along with details of the candidate’s nationality, first language and date of birth. Each Overall Band Score corresponds to a descriptive statement which gives a summary of the English language ability of a candidate classified at that level. The nine bands and their descriptive statements are as follows:

9 Expert User – Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

8 Very Good User – Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

7 Good User – Has operational command of the language, though occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

6 Competent User – Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

5 Modest User – Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

4 Limited User – Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has a frequent problem in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

3 Extremely Limited User – Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

2 Intermittent User – No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

1 Non User – Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

0 Did not attempt the test. – No assessable information.

Most universities and colleges in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada accept an IELTS Overall Band Score of 6.0 or 6.5 for entry to academic programmes. IELTS scores are increasingly being recognised by Universities in the USA.

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