Everything You Need To Know About IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of a candidate who wants to study or work in a country that uses English as a primary mode of communication.

The scores of IELTS are distributed into nine bands with the non-English user put in the first band and an expert English user put in the ninth band.

Candidates can choose from two training methods:

  • IELTS Academic: The IELTS academic test is taken up by candidates who wish to apply for higher education in an English-speaking environment. The IELTS academic test assesses whether the candidate is ready for studying in a particular English speaking environment or not.
  • IELTS General Training: The IELTS General Training is for candidates who are migrating to English speaking countries for secondary education or employment. IELTS General Training is also a requirement in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test focuses on basic English speaking skills and assesses if the candidate can survive easily in a native English country.

IELTS for Immigration

IELTS is accepted as proof that a candidate is proficient in English language and can easily survive in a native English speaking country. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK accept IELTS for candidates seeking employment in these countries.

IELTS for Education

IELTS is an acceptable proof of English proficiency in more than 10,000 universities worldwide. There can be countries that do not use English as a primary language of communication but can still require IELTS for some courses.

IELTS for Work

IELTS is a prerequisite in most English speaking countries that are looking for skilled professionals. The required proficiency levels vary between companies, professions, jurisdiction and countries. It is up to an individual professional body to determine what IELTS band score is required for a particular profession.

Test Format

The IELTS test assesses a candidate’s ability in listening, reading, writing and speaking. The assessment is done within 3 hours.

There are two types of tests conducted by IELTS, IELTS Academic and IELTS general training. The listening and speaking content of both the tests are same while the subject matter for reading and writing differ.

The listening, reading and writing components of the test are completed on the same day and no breaks are given between these test modules.

The speaking module of the test can be completed a week before or after the listening, reading and writing modules are completed.

The total test time for the IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

IELTS Tests in Detail

IELTS Listening: The listening part of IELTS is divided into four sections. Each section has ten questions.

The first two sections of the IELTS listening test deals with real-life daily social scenarios. The first section can have a normal conversation between two people on a topic and questions related to the conversations will be asked to the candidate. The second section includes a formal speech over a topic which the candidate will need to listen intently and understand.

The second and third sections of the IELTS listening test deals with educational and training contexts. The third section includes a conversation between two university students and their discussion. The final section includes a monologue on an academic subject.

The time given to complete this exam is 30 minutes. An extra 10 minutes is provided to candidates to transfer their answers to the answer sheet.

The candidates are required to write their answers on the question paper and then transfer the answers to the answer sheet during the transfer time. Test takers are advised to take proper care while transferring answers as poor grammar and spelling can attract penalty.

Each successful answer to a question contributes to 1 mark.

Academic Reading: The paper format of the Academic Reading includes reading from three passages with a variety of questions including different task types.

A total time of 60 minutes is allotted to the candidate and they have to answer 40 questions within this time.

The tasks can include multiple choice questions, identification of information, identifying claims and views, matching information, matching heading, flow-chart completion and more.

In general, questions are taken from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and so on. The topics are of general interest. The passages may be written in different forms like narrative, descriptive, discursive or argumentative. If the texts provided contain technical words, a glossary corresponding to those terms is provided.

Test takers are required to transfer their answers to the answer sheet. There is no extra time provided to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

Each correct answer to the question contributes to 1 mark.

General Training Reading: The General Training Reading test of IELTS includes three sections. The first section includes two or three short texts, the second section includes two normal sized text content and the third section includes a long text.

A total of 60 minutes is provided to the candidate and he is required to answer 40 questions in the time frame.

There are a variety of questions that can be asked which include multiple choice questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s claims and views, matching information, and so on.

The first section of the General Training Reading is termed ‘Social Survival’. This section judges a candidate’s Basic English linguistic skills. The aim of this test is to retrieve and provide general information on the topic.

The second section is termed ‘Workplace Survival’. This section focuses on job descriptions, contracts and staff development.

The third section is termed ‘General Reading’ involves reading passages or reading in a native accent. The test taker should also be able to make proper emphasis while reading the complex sentences.

Candidates are required to transfer their answers to the answer sheet in the allotted time frame. No extra time for transferring answers is provided. Care must be taken while transferring answers as unclear, poor grammar and spelling mistakes will be penalized.

Academic Writing: The test includes two writing tasks and both should be completed within 60 minutes.

The first task of the Academic writing asks test takers to describe graph/table/chart/diagrams in a total of 150 words. It is advised that test taker does not spend more than 20 minutes on the first task.

The second task of the Academic writing asks the test taker to respond to a point of view of an argument or a problem. Candidates are asked to write a total of 250 words. Candidates can spend the remaining 40 minutes in this task.

Answers must be written on the answer sheet provided. No notes or bullet points are acceptable as answers.

General Training Writing: The General Training Writing test is similar to the Academic writing test but questions are quite easier for the test takers.

A total of 60 minutes is provided to answer 2 questions.

The first task asks the test taker to respond to a situation by writing a letter requesting information or explaining a situation.

The second task asks the test takers to write an essay in response to a point of view of an argument.

Speaking: The speaking test includes an oral interview between the test taker and an examiner. All speaking tests are recorded.

The interview lasts for about 11-14 minutes.

Also, learn about PTE: Everything You Need to Know About PTE Academic – Test, Preparation & More

Scoring in IELTS

IELTS scores results are reported on a 9-band scale. The table below will help you understand the score band.

Band Score Expert Level Description
9 Expert User The test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8 Very Good User The test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
7 Good User The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand the detailed reasoning.
6 Competent User The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest User The test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
4 Limited User The test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely Limited User The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent User The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-User The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.

The scoring is done for each module of reading, speaking, writing and listening. The scores are then averaged to produce an overall band score.

The validity of the IELTS report is valid for 2 years after which the candidate will need to take up the test again.

Also, read: IELTS Vs PTE – All You Need To Know About Them

Where are IELTS Scores Accepted?

IELTS scores are accepted in Universities, Employers, Government and Professional Registrations in many native English speaking countries.

How to register for IELTS Test

The first step of registering for an IELTS test begins with looking up for an IELTS test location near you. There are around 1,100 IELTS test centers located across 140 countries. So you can choose the center located near to you.

The second step is registering paying the fee online. You are also required to provide a copy of your identification proof. The same identification proof should be provided during the time of taking the test.

Once your application is processed, the centre will send you a written confirmation letter stating that your test has been booked.

How to Prepare for your Test

Preparing for your IELTS test begins with an understanding of your test format. You need to understand the content of the test, questions, and task types for each section. We also request you to read the rules and regulations of the IELTS test.

There are sample test questions that you can use to practice for the test. These sample test papers will give you a gist as to what you can expect in the listening, reading, and writing tests.

You can also purchase official IELTS materials. The official IELTS materials will focus on providing in-depth knowledge about the tests and questions that can appear in the test.

You can also consider opting an IELTS preparation course which will further aid you in preparing actively for the test. Professional and IELTS teachers can guide you better for the test.

Some tips you can use on the test day

Be punctual and arrive on time for the test. As we discussed earlier, IELTS offers a very limited time. You need to mentally prepare yourself before sitting for the exam.

Carry the right identification proof with you. It should be the same identification proof just as you submitted online while booking for the test.

 It is requested that you stay calm and in case of any query, you can ask the examination IELTS staffs, who will be happy to assist you.

Here are certain rules and regulations that you are requested to follow:

  • Switch off your mobile phone and any other electronic devices. You will need to place these items outside the test room with your other belongings.
  • The listening, reading and writing tests take 2 hours and 40 minutes and there are no breaks in between these tests.
  • It is requested you have any food or drink beforehand, as you will not be allowed to carry any food or drink in the test room. Only drinks in transparent bottles can be carried.
  • You are requested to read the instructions on the test paper carefully before writing anything.
  • Always read questions properly.

Every test room will have a clock; watches are not allowed inside the test room. The listening, reading and writing sections have a number of sections. You are requested to allow enough time for each section.

Re-sitting for the Exam

If you are unhappy with your result, you can sit for the IELTS examination any time you feel you are ready. But, your scores will only improve if you put a considerable amount of effort in improving your English.