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If you are a student keen on pursuing higher studies in an Australian or British University, you need to take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination. It is a pre-requisite for all non-native students who aspire to study in countries where the medium of instruction is English. IELTS is also for those who wish to migrate, undertake work or practice a profession in an English-speaking country.

IELTS - International Educational Institutions

Universities and employers in many countries recognize IELTS. Apart from Australian and British Universities, IELTS is recognized in New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and South African universities and institutions of higher educations. IELTS is an entrance requirement to pursue secondary, vocational and training programs.

In the recent years, certain US educational institutions do consider IELTS as an alternative to Teaching of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) test. On the whole, around 3800 educational institutions, government agencies and professional organizations across 120 countries do recognize IELTS test.

IELTS test

IELTS tests English just the way it is used, be it in work, study and life. A close to reality test, the results indicate whether you are ready to study, work or train in a country where English is the primary medium of communication.

IELTS tests your ability to read, write, speak and listen in English. There are two versions - the Academic or General Training version. The test will be accorded in the same order - reading, writing, speaking and listening. On the day of assessment, the first three sections will be held in the morning without a break.

The last section, namely speaking section in the form of an interview (for 15 minutes) can be held on the same day in the afternoon or within 7 days before or after the other modules. The interview schedule is assigned purely at the discretion of the test centre.

IELTS test version for students

If you aspire to pursue academic study, undergraduate or postgraduate courses, the academic reading and writing module should be selected. The General Training Reading and Writing module is for those who wish to complete their secondary education or pursue non-academic training, or undertake a work,or apply for immigration to countries like Australia, Canada or New Zealand.

IELTS test format

Irrespective of the version, all candidates will be tested in the same listening and speaking modules. However, there is a choice between Academic and General Training in the reading and writing modules. The assessment time for the entire IELTS test is 2 hours 45 minutes.

Listening module - Time duration 30 minutes

Listen carefully and answer 40 questions spread across 4 sections. The first two sections will be about social needs in the society. A number of recorded texts such as mixture of monologues, conversations with a variety of English accents and dialects are part of this module. The other two sections are educational or training related.

You will be allowed to hear the recordings only once. As you listen, you will be required to mark answers on the question papers. When the tape ends, 10 minutes are allowed to transfer answers marked on the question paper to the answer sheet. Aim for 30 right answers, which is generally considered a good score.

Academic reading module - Time duration 60 minutes

As a student, you will be required to take the academic reading module. It consists of 40 questions covering three passages. If you are in the habit of reading newspapers, popular journals and magazines it should be immensely benefit you.. Answers to the questions should be recorded on the answer sheets within the given time frame.

Academic Writing module - time duration 60 minutes

There are two activities as part of writing module aimed at testing your comprehension skills. You need to complete task 1 in 20 minutes, which involves describing information that is usually presented in the form of a graph, table or diagram. You need to interpret the graph, table or diagram and describe the same in a minimum of 150 words.

Task 2, which is given more weightage in the final band score, should be completed in 40 minutes. A short paragraph with a point of view or argument or problem is provided. You need to analyze, evaluate and justify your point of view in the form of an essay not less than 250 words in an appropriate writing style.

IELTS speaking module

Divided into three sections, the time allotted is 14-15 minutes per candidate. The entire conversation is recorded and it helps assess your confidence level in understanding and replying coherently without grammatical mistakes to the questions from the examiner. Your accent and dialect is also assessed

IELTS scoring pattern

Unlike other examinations, the concept of pass or fail does not apply to IELTS examination. The acceptable IELTS score differs from one institution to another. The same will be notified to you at the time of procuring application forms. However, a score of 7.5 brightens your chance of ensuring admission to premium institutions.

Each of the four IELTS test modules is graded separately and added together and averaged for an overall band score. Band score 9, usually the highest certifies the candidate as an expert user. The minimum score accepted for a course ranges from 5.0 and most universities and institutions for higher educations look for an overall band score between 6-7.

IELTS test centers

There are close to 300 approved IELTS test centers (approved by the British Council or an appointed university) in 105 countries. You can select either computer-based (CB) IELTS test or the paper-based IELTS test. The CB IELTS is available only at a limited number of IELTS centers. Choose the test center and obtain the application form.

Fill the application form and submit the same with the test fee and two passport-sized photographs. At this point, remember to check the available test dates and select the one that is convenient for you. You can expect the results to reach you after 13 calendar days from the date of test.

  • Allocate a minimum of 100 hours for preparation

  • Use materials available at local British Council office

  • Listen to Radio, TV with foreign accents and familiarize

  • Tune your English grammar, no scope for mistakes

  • Avoid longer sentenced in the writing section. Let it be crisp

  • Ensure the headphones are working well during the listening section

  • It helps to practice in a small group for the speaking section

  • Remember to wish the examiner and thank before exiting.

  • Don't get tensed or give too much of importance to pronunciation