- Exam: Complete IELTS Guide
- Certification: IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
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IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a well-known standardized test of English Language proficiency, usually taken by non-native English speakers as evidence of their competency in several criteria. This exam is jointly administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. It is interesting, that IELTS is taken by more than three million people every year and accepted by over 10,000 institutions, schools, and immigration bodies all over the globe. Thus, it is widely recognized and will be a great proof of your knowledge.
The following guide will provide you with information about the IELTS test including a brief outline, the types of exams offered and their descriptions, exam formats, and career opportunities for those who manage to gain a decent IELTS score.
IELTS: What Is It About and Who Is It for?
The IELTS test assesses your English Language abilities in four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Your IELTS score is out of a 9-band scale, with 9 denoting an expert user and 1 denoting a non-user. It is offered in two types, depending on your purpose. For educational purposes, such as studying in an English-speaking university, you need to take the Academic IELTS test, which is also suitable for professional registration. On the other hand, for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the UK, working abroad, or below degree-level study, you need to take the General Training IELTS exam.
The Listening and Speaking tests are the same between Academic and General Training IELTS, but the Reading and Writing domains are different. The Academic test is focused more on vocabulary and writing styles seen in an educational setting.
To complete the assessment, you are required to complete the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections on the same day, at a stretch. The Speaking component may or may not happen on the same day, and usually takes place a week before or after the other tests. You will spend a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes on all the parts of the exam.
Test Formats and Content
The four tests included in IELTS have different formats such as task types, duration, and the number of questions. Also, each part covers specific content that checks particular skills according to the format of the assessment you choose (Academic/ General Training).
Academic Reading. This is a 1-hour assessment consisting of 40 questions. You will be tested on a variety of reading skills such as skimming, identifying main ideas, writers’ opinions, and purpose, reading for detail, and building arguments. You will be given three reading passages and a selection of questions with varying tasks that will be presented in the following formats: multiple-choice, selecting information, matching information, headings, features and sentence endings, short-answer questions, completing summaries, notes, diagram labels, and tables. The texts are all for non-specialist audiences and are of general interest. Each question is worth 1 mark and you need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet within the test duration.
General Training Reading. This part has the same duration and number of questions as the Academic Reading test. You will be given three sections, with the first one containing 2-3 short passages or short texts, the second one containing two texts, and the third part having one long text. Question types are also similar to those mentioned above. As for the text content, section 1 contains ‘social survival’ relevant texts for basic communication in English, section 2 contains ‘workplace survival’ content, and section 3 includes ‘general reading’ content such as newspapers, magazines, fiction, and non-fiction.
Academic Writing. This is a 1-hour test containing 2 tasks. The topics covered in them are suitable for those beginning their undergraduate or postgraduate studies or applying for professional registration. In the first question, you will be asked to summarize, describe or explain information presented in a graph, chart, or table, in 150 words. In the second question, you will be required to write a 250-word formal essay in relation to a particular opinion, argument, or problem.
General Training Writing. This assessment has the same duration and number of questions as the Academic Writing test. However, the first question has a different type. Here, you will be writing a letter asking for information or explaining a given situation. Question 2 is an essay, just like in the Academic test, but it can be written in a more personal style.
- Speaking. This test happens for about 11-14 minutes and every part of it is recorded. Moreover, this section contains three parts. In part 1, the examiner will ask you questions about yourself, family, studies, hobbies, and other similar topics. In part 2, you will be asked to pick a card of your choice with a particular topic. Then you are given a minute to prepare before you speak for up to 2 minutes. You will be given one or two questions on this topic. In part 3, you are asked more questions on the previous topic, resulting in a discussion for about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Listening. This is a 30-minute test and during it, you will be listening to 4 recordings of native English speakers and provide your answers for the questions that follow. There are 40 tasks in total and their types include multiple-choice, matching, sentence completion, labeling diagrams, and more. The first recording is an everyday conversation between two people, the second recording is a monologue, the third is a conversation with up to 4 people in an educational or training situation, and the fourth one is an academic monologue. Each question accounts for 1 mark.
IELTS opens up various job and academic opportunities overseas that demand the effective use of the English Language. If you are looking to pursue further education abroad, migrate to another country to take up a job there, or even apply for permanent residency in some countries, passing the IELTS exam will help you get closer to such opportunities. In a competitive world where English is a major international language, obtaining standardized scores for your English skills will help you to access your career prospects.
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