International English Language Testing System (IELTS) was established in 1989. While it is mostly accepted by all Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand academic institutions and over 3,000 academic institutions in the US, it is the only Secure English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration.
IELTS is a test of all four language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You will take the Listening, Reading and Writing tests all on the same day one after the other, with no breaks in between. For the Speaking test, you can book a slot online on your preferred date and time.
The British Council website states that IELTS assesses all the English skills of the applicant, i.e. ‘reading, writing, listening and speaking, and is designed to reflect how you will use English at study at work, and at play, in their new life abroad. So, just learning how to converse in English can fall short of being able to crack it.
The questions are generic in nature and divided into four papers. The examination duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes, 30 minutes for listening, 60 minutes for reading, writing for 60 minutes and 11–14 minutes for speaking. The candidates score between 1 and 9 for each section. Universities generally demand an IELTS score of 6 or 7. Sometimes they also provide the minimum score for each section.
IELTS - results are valid for two years only. BULATS - we recommend that employers/educational institutions ask for some further proof of a candidate's level of English if the test was taken more than two years previously.
1. Know the Schedule and Format
Knowing the schedule and format of the IELTS test can help you prepare for your test.
Let’s start with the basics: the listening, reading, and writing tests are all scheduled and completed on the same day, with no breaks between each part of the test. Depending on the IELTS Test Centre, you may also have your speaking test on the same day.
The listening test is 30 minutes and includes four different recordings, including monologues and conversations. You will be asked a variety of questions about these recordings, and you will hear each part of the listening test once.
The speaking test has three sections, which includes short questions and longer questions, as well as a structured discussion with your IELTS speaking examiner. The speaking test lasts between 11-14 minutes, and while you can’t plan your answers for the speaking test ahead of time, you can be prepared by knowing the types of questions you could be asked.
The reading test has three sections and lasts 60 minutes. You will be using a variety of skills for the reading section, including skimming, reading for main ideas, and more. You should be aware that there is an Academic Version of the reading test, as well as a General Training Version.
The writing test has two sections and lasts 60 minutes. The first task includes writing at least 150 words, and the second task includes writing at least 250 words. As with the reading test, there is an Academic Version and a General Training Version.
2. Know what your examiner is looking for
It is important to know what your examiner will be looking for in the speaking and writing sections of the test. By knowing this, you will be better able to focus your answers and give the kinds of answers the examiner is looking for.
3. Do practice tests
Take advantage of the practice tests and model answers available online to help you prepare for your IELTS test. These tests are a great way to get a sense of the kinds of questions that are asked, as well as possible answers.
Another advantage of using practice tests is they give you an opportunity to time yourself. The IELTS tests are carefully timed, so you should know how long it takes you to prepare your answers. I recommend that you use these practice tests and time yourself; then, if necessary, you can work on improving your timing before you take the test.
4. Get help
Do you have questions about the IELTS test? Do you need some help with certain aspects of the test? If so, help is available. I recommend that you take advantage of free online IELTS webinars and in-class seminars to ask questions, get tips on how to improve your score, and much more!
Preparation is key before you take your IELTS test. I recommend that you take time before your test to plan, prepare and inform yourself. Take advantage of the information that is available to you before you take your test – it’s there for the taking!
Good luck in preparing for your IELTS test.