IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is an English language proficiency exam which measures the ability of test-takers to communicate in the four basic language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
The IELTS is managed by three main institutions: the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). This is important to understand in order to prepare for what is essentially an examination of British and not American English.
There are two versions of the IELTS exam: general and academic. Test-takers must know in advance which one is needed for their purposes as the scores are not interchangeable. Each test lasts two hours and forty-five minutes.
Broadly speaking, the IELTS is taken by those who wish to study, live, or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication. Specifically, the test is taken by three main categories of people:
Below is the brief summary of four major skills tested in the IELTS:
The IELTS Listening Test is the same for the Academic and General Training modules. You listen to language spoken in a social or academic context and answer a series of questions. The tape is played only once so you have to practice sufficiently beforehand to pick up what’s being said the first time around.
The listening test is divided into four sections with 10 questions in each part (a total of 40 questions). This module lasts about 30 minutes. You get an extra 10 minutes at the end to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
The variety of question types means that you sometimes need to write in the answer in your own writing, versus simply choosing the right answer. This is important because in such cases, you also need to spell correctly or the answer will be marked wrong. Even a small error can cause you to lose marks. For example, if the answer is "hat"; and you write "hats", it may be marked wrong.
IELTS Reading Overview
You need to do either the General IELTS exam or the Academic IELTS exam. But what's the difference, anyway? The difference is in the Reading and Writing modules only. The Listening and Speaking modules are the same for all.
In terms of reading, the main difference between the Academic and General Reading Modules of the IELTS lies in the content of the passages. The General Module includes easier texts from social, academic, and work contexts. The Academic Module includes more advanced texts, at an undergraduate or graduate level, from academic sources.
Yet, the Academic and General Reading Modules are also similar in many ways. Both last for one hour, contain 3 passages and 40 questions, and are scored in the same way. In both cases, you must answer the questions and transfer your answers to the answer sheet all in one hour. Other overlapping areas that apply to both modules are scoring, tasks, skills, and time.
You need to work through a number of practice tests in order to identify exactly what you need to do and to understand how to correctly answer each type of question. After doing a few tests, analyze your answers. Doing so will help you recognize which types of questions are easier for you and which types cause more difficulty. Consult us to learn strategies to help you with ones that are more challenging.
The IELTS Academic and General Writing Modules are similar in some ways and different in others. Whichever test you do, you have one hour to complete two tasks. It is the nature of the tasks that makes them different. You can see this clearly in the chart below:
In both cases, your score is based on three fundamental criteria:
Quality: How effectively are you able to communicate your ideas and thoughts?
Technical Aspects: How correct is your grammar? How rich is your vocabulary? How varied are your sentences?
Few sample essays are provided below:
The Speaking Module of the IELTS rates your ability to communicate clearly, correctly and meaningfully in English in a variety of situations. You are interviewed alone by an examiner and the conversation is recorded.
Familiarizing yourself with the common topics
Practicing extensively with a teacher /tutor so you can get feedback
Rehearsing till you can speak comfortably and confidently
Receiving tips, advice and guidance provided during the training
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