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IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
is the most sought after English language proficiency test.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the most sought after English language proficiency test. This test may be taken for a number of reasons like:

  • Migration to English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada.
  • Admission in Universities in countries that have English as their first language.
  • For employment in the Communications/ Teaching field in English speaking countries.

Developed by the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate, it is a globally accepted standardized test.

Kinds of test

There are two different IELTS test that one may be required to choose from depending on the need to take the test.

Academic: The Academic module is for candidates wishing to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and for those seeking professional registration.

General: The General Training module is for candidates wishing t migrate to an English speaking country (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK), and for those wishing to train or study at below degree level.



The IELTS Exam Pattern

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
is the most sought after English language proficiency test.

Listening

Timing: Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes' transfer time)

Questions: There are 40 questions

A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choices, matching, plan/map/diagram labeling, and form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-charts completion, summary completion, sentence completion, short-answer questions

Test Parts: There are 4 sections

Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency)

Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference)

Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project)

Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture)

Each section is heard once only

A variety of voices and native-speaker accents is used

Skills assessed: The purpose here is to assess wide range of listening and interpreting skills of a candidate using variety of techniques set in everyday situations.

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale

Scores are reported in whole and half bands



Speaking

Timing: 11-14 minutes

Tasks: The Speaking test is a 3-part face-to-face oral interview with an examiner

The Speaking test is recorded

Test Parts: There are 3 parts

Part 1 Introduction and interview (4-5 minutes)

The examiner introduces him/herself and asks the candidate to introduce him/herself and confirm his/her identity. The examiner asks the candidate general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests.

Part 2 Individual long turn (3-4 minutes)

The examiner gives the candidate a task card which asks the candidate to talk about a particular topic and which includes points which the candidate can cover in their talk. The candidate is given 1 minute to prepare their talk, and is given a pencil and paper to make notes. The candidate talks for 1-2 minutes on the topic. The examiner then asks the candidate one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 Two-way discussion (4-5 minutes)

The examiner asks further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions give the candidate an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Skills assessed: A wide range of speaking skills is assessed, including the ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences and situations by answering a range of questions; the ability to speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language and organising ideas coherently; and the ability to express and justify opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate about issues.

IELTS scores are provided on a band of 1-9, with 1 meaning having no virtual knowledge of English and 9 meaning native English Speaker Proficiency. Universities in UK, New Zealand and Australia usually require a score of 6-7. However, it is always advisable to contact the University and find out their score requirement.

How to interpret IELTS

Test takers receive scores on a band scale from 1 to 9.

A profile score is reported for each skill. The four individual scores are averaged and rounded to produce an overall band score. Overall band scores and scores for each component (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) are reported in whole bands or half bands.

Overall band score

Test takers receive a Test Report Form including or listing their overall band score and their sub-scores on each of the four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

Each of the component scores is equally weighted. The overall band score is calculated by taking the mean of the total of the four individual component scores.

Overall band scores are reported to the nearest whole or half band. The following rounding convention applies; if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.

Thus, a test taker achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.0 for Writing and 7.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 6.5 (25 ÷ 4 = 6.25 = Band 6.5).

Likewise, a test taker achieving 4.0 for Listening, 3.5 for Reading, 4.0 for Writing and 4.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 4.0 (15.5 ÷ 4 = 3.875 =Band 4.0).

On the other hand, a test taker achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.5 for Writing and 6.0 for Speaking would be awarded band 6 (24.5 ÷ 4 = 6.125 = Band 6).

Reading

Timing: 60 minutes (no extra transfer time)

Questions: There are 40 questions

A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying writer's views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flowchart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions

Test Parts: There are 3 sections

The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words

Academic Reading

Each section contains one long text. Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest. Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided

General Training Reading

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). Topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training)

Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest

Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers

Skills assessed: A wide range of reading skills is assessed, including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail; understanding inferences and implied meaning; recognizing a writer's opinions, attitudes and purpose; and following the development of an argument.

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale

Scores are reported in whole and half bands



Writing

Timing: 60 minutes

Tasks: There are 2 tasks

Candidates are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least

250 words for Task 2

Test Parts: There are 2 parts

Academic Writing

In Task 1, candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarize or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event

In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of View, argument or problem. The issues raised are of general interest to, suitable for and easily understood by candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Responses to Task 1 and Task 2 should be written in a formal style

General Training Writing

In Task 1, candidates are presented with a situation and are asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay.

Skills assessed: In both tasks, candidates are assessed on their ability to write a response which is appropriate in terms of content, the organization of ideas, and the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar.

Marking: Candidates are assessed on their performance on each task by certificated IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS

Scores are reported in whole and half bands