WHAT IS IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test of English Language proficiency for non-native English speakers. IELTS is conducted by three institutions namely, the British Council, IDP IELTS (Australia) and University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations(Cambridge ESOL).
The test scores are quite an important criteria for getting admission in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canadian colleges and universities. Nowadays, American universities too have started accepting IELTS scores. If you have scored well in IELTS then half the battle is won, as this test is the first step forward for those seeking to study or work in a foreign land.
The International English Language Testing System measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as language of communication. IELTS assesses all of your English skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. It uses a nine-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) to expert (band score 9).
IELTS is available in two test versions:
The IELTS academic test is suitable for individual applying for higher education or professional registration. The test assess whether a person is ready to begin studying or training where English language is used
IELTS General training is suitable for those applying for secondary education as well as for people migrating to Australia, Canada & UK. The test focuses with context related to social and workplace skills.
Both versions of IELTS cover four language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The detailed explanation is given below:
Listening: 40 Questions (Section 1)
Duration: 40 Minutes
The paper has four sections with 10 questions in each section which is played only once. Conversations and Monologues by range of native speakers is usually the format which is used to test the ability and understand main ideas with detailed factual information, ability to understand the attitude of speakers and the purpose of what is being said.
You will need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. You will have 10 minutes at the end of the test to do this. You should be careful when writing your answers on the answer sheet because you will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.
The Listening component is the same for both Academic and General Training versions.
Reading: 40 Questions (Section 2)
Duration: 60 minutes
The reading section comprises 40 questions. In order to test the reading skills different variant of questions is used. The format for reading test is different in Academic and General Training
Reading – Academic version
The academic version comprises question which range from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical. The texts are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. This material is likely for non-specialist audience and is recognizable for individual entering undergraduate/postgraduate courses or professional registration.
Reading – General Training version
The General Training version comprises material extracted from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. This is likely to encounter with daily basis in an English speaking environment.
Writing (Section 3)
Duration: 60 minutes
Writing – Academic version
The academic version in writing comprises topics related to general interest which is suitable for people entering undergraduate/postgraduate or seeking professional registration. The test includes two tasks
Task 1: You will be presented with a table, chart, graph, map or diagram and asked to describe or explain data, provide information related to context, describe stages of process or formulate how something works.
Task 2: You will be asked to write an essay in response to particular point of view, argument or problem. Answers to both the tasks must be written in formal style.
Writing – General Training version
The Writing component of the General Training version comprises two tasks which will be related to topics of general interest.
Task 1: A situation will be presented and you will be asked to write a letter explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi- formal or formal style
Task 2: you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay must be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing.
Speaking (Section 4)
Duration: 11 to 14 minutes
The section assesses your English speaking skills which take between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is recorded.
The Speaking component is the same for both Academic and General Training versions.
Part 1: General questions about yourself and familiar topics related to family, work, studies and interests usually form a part of this test which last for 4 to 5 minutes
Part 2: you will be provided with the card that asks you to talk about a particular topic. A minute will be provided to prepare and the candidate is required to speak for 2 to 3 minutes.
Part 3: Further questions will be asked connected to the topic in Part 2. This gives an opportunity to a candidate to discuss in detail more abstract ideas and issues to a related topic.
Therefore, the IELTS Test pattern is structured in such a way that it reflects the speaking, reading and writing skills of the candidate. IELTS test scores are accepted worldwide including schools, universities, immigration authorities and professional bodies. There are no specific IELTS eligibility criteria. However, the selection procedure varies among organizations. Hence, the candidate should know the application procedure of the institutes where he/she applies to.