Preparing for the IELTS Exam

Preparing for the IELTS Exam

Image courtesy: lea.edu.my

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examines the language ability of the students aspiring to study abroad. Initiated in 1989, it is an international standardized test of the English language expertise and recognized as one of the major assessment in English in the world.

 

Cambridge English Language Assessment, the British Council and IDP Education Pvt. Ltd correctively manages the IELTS that finds recognition by top Australian, Canadian, British, South African, New Zealand and Irish universities, employers, immigration authorities, government agencies and others. It also serves the immigration purpose in New Zealand and Australia.

Students’ thus, aspiring to fly abroad need to clear the IELTS exam, making a mark in the exams for admissions in the top colleges and universities. The article addresses some of the essential questions frequently asked by students preparing for IELTS. Have a look—

Are there any IELTS categorization?

Yes, there are two types of IELTS-the Academic Version and the General Training Version:

The Academic Version caters to students desiring to join in colleges, universities or other institutions meant for higher education. It’s also applicable for professionals like doctors and nurses wishing to study and practice in the foreign land.

The General Training Version is applicable for students planning to take non-academic training or for gaining work experience. It is also applicable for immigration purposes.

Where to take IELTS training?

There are more than 400 test centers around the world that offer IELTS training. Most of the test centers are administered by the British Council or even IELTS Australia and other schools and universities.  For information you can contact the local examination center.

How can I register for the test?

Visit the official IELTS website or the nearest examination center to know about the application procedure and also the location of the test center.

What is the Test Format?

The test format consists of four sub-tests also known modules: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. The Listening and Speaking Modules are applicable for all candidates while the Reading and Writing modules differ as per the selection of the candidate between the Academic or General Training Versions.

  • The Listening Test

The listening test lasts for 30 minutes consisting of four sections in increasing difficulty. Each section can be either a monologue or dialogue that is played on cassette tape only once. The students can go through the questions and answer them for which additional 10 minutes are given.

  • The Reading Test

IELTS Reading test continues for 60 minutes and comprises of three sections in order of increasing difficulty. Students are given General Training Reading Test or Academic Reading Test. These have three texts for total 40 questions.

  • The Writing Test

IELTS Writing test continues for 60 minutes. Students either take the Academic test or a General Training test. The Academic module has two tasks-the task 1 consists of describing a diagram, process or chart and graph. The task 2 consists of responding to an argument. The General Training module also consists of two tasks: in task 1 students write a letter, explaining a situation and in Task 2 candidates write an essay. Usually there is no choice of questions.

  • The Speaking Test

The speaking test consists of three sections. The first section includes interview with the candidate where they are asked about their interests, hobbies, the reasons for taking up IELTS test and questions on other general topics about day to day affair. In the second section a topic card is given to the students and one minute is given to prepare following which the candidates need to speak on the topic. The third section holds a discussion between the candidate and the examiner on the topic that the later spoke in the section 2. The interview usually lasts for approximately 11-14 minutes.

The four sub-sections will appear in the following way on the day of the test

Image courtesy: ielts-exam.net

What is the scoring format?

There is no such minimum score to pass the IELTS test. The performance of the students is scored on a nine-band scale. Each band corresponds to a specified level of competence in English language. A band score is displayed on the IELTS Test Report Form (TRF). For those who did not appear or attempt for the test there is a ‘band 0’ score. The IELTS performance grade or the result is offered to all the students with scores ranging from ‘band 1’ (non-user) to ‘band 9’ (expert user). However, each and every institution has a different threshold.

What is the duration of the test?

The total test duration of the test is about 2 hours and 45 minutes for the three modules: Listening, Reading and Writing. The time slot is divided in the following way:

Listening: the time allotted is 40 minutes. 30 minutes is allotted during which a recording is played centrally on which the test is based. Additional 10 minutes are given for writing the answers in the OMR answer sheet

Reading: 60 minutes is assigned for this test

Writing: 60 minutes is assigned for this test

Speaking: 11–15 minutes is allotted for this test

Listening, Reading and Writing, the first three modules are always conducted in this order. These tests are taken and completed in 1 day and taken with no allotted break in between. The Speaking Module, however, is sometimes taken as per the decision of the test centre. It is conducted within the period of seven days before or after the other test modules. 

The IELTS test formalities

We have noted down some of the essential formalities that you need to consider and go through once you have decided to appear for the IELTS test

  • Call the local IELTS test centre for the required information. Inquire about the dates of the exam and the fees that you have to submit. Note that the dates may vary for the Academic and General IELTS exams
  • Search the website and download the application form. Get a print out of the form and fill the form reading the instructions carefully. Enclose your photos and attach a copy of identification. Also, provide the money and then send these to the local IELTS centre
  • Make sure that the essentials have been received by the local centre. Also, confirm that a seat has been allocated for you on the test date

Tips for IELTS Examinations

Here are some essential tips that give you a successful and confident approach to the exams:

  • Improve your English
  • Remain updated with all the information about the IELTS exam
  • Search the website, read it thoroughly
  • For any queries contact the examination department
  • Practice several sample questions
  • Understand the format of the exam and the questions
  • Go through the questions and look at the content carefully, keeping them in mind
  • Evaluate your practice paper
  • Calculate your time
  • See the start time and the location before the exam
  • Carry all your credentials and all other required essentials like identity proof, passport photos etc
  • Time yourself
  • Read the questions carefully

So, if you have decided to appear for the IELTS exam then start preparing now. You can practice from the sample questions online, or download courses or even approach the centers for help. Another effective way is to attend IELTS workshops, seminars conducted by experienced trainers where you are trained effectively to successfully crack the exam.

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