About IELTS exam

IELTS

The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by Cambridge English Language Assessment, the British Council and IDP Education Pvt. Ltd. and was established in 1989. IELTS, along with TOEFL, is one of the two major English-language tests in the world.

There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version:

  • The Academic Version is intended for those who wish to apply in universities and other institutions of higher education in English-speaking country and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to practise in an English-speaking country.
  • The General Training Version is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.
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Eligibility

Can I apply for IELTS?

IELTS does not restrict the candidates as long as the students are high school graduates or about to be high school graduates. High school graduate is equivalent to 12th standard in India as this test is very important from VISA point of view. Hence, a person applying for education after 12th outside India can appear for the test as well as the person applying for work visa or Permeant Resident-ship (PR) in English speaking country can apply for the exam.

Nowadays, to keep abreast with English many corporates have started advising employees weak in communication to appear for the exam. IELTS score card is respected in industry and is a benchmark of communication skills.

Syllabus

What is the syllabus for IELTS?

IELTS being an English proficiency exam, tests the test-taker on the ability to use English on all four skills of the language that is Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Hence, it has no definite syllabus but questions based on range of situations which one encounters in academic or working life.

Format

What do they exactly test on IELTS?

The format of the IELTS test is as follows:

SectionContentQuestionsDuration
Listening4 conversations or lectures40 Questions30 minutes + 10 minutes
ReadingAcademic: 3 passages

General: 5 passages

40 Questions60 minutes
WritingGeneral: Task 1 – Letter

Academic: Task 1 – Report

Both: Essay

2 tasks60 minutes
Speaking3 Parts16 to 18 Questions11 – 14 minutes’ interview

IELTS Preparation

Listening

The module comprises of four sections of increasing difficulty. It takes 40 minutes: 30 – for testing, plus 10 for transferring the answers to an answer sheet. Each section, which can be either a monologue or dialogue, begins with a short introduction telling the candidates about the situation and the speakers. Then they have some time to look through the questions. The first three sections have a break in the middle allowing candidates to look at the remaining questions. Each section is heard only once.

Reading

In the Academic module, the reading test comprises of three sections, with 3 texts normally followed by 13 or 14 questions for a total of 40 questions overall. The General test also has 3 sections. However, the texts are shorter, so there can be up to 5 texts to read. This section takes about 60 minutes to complete and there is no extra time to transfer the answers.

Writing

In the Academic module, there are two tasks: Task 1 asks candidates describe a diagram, graph, process or chart while, Task 2 asks them to respond to an argument. In the General Training module, there are also two tasks: in Task 1 candidates write a letter while, in Task 2 they write an essay. In both cases, total time allotted for the section is 60 minutes.

Speaking

Speaking section is conducted in the form of an interview and the test contains three parts. The first part takes the form of an interview during which candidates may be asked about their hobbies, interests, reasons for taking IELTS exam as well as other general topics such as clothing, free time, computers and the internet or family. In the second part candidates are given a cue card and then have one minute to prepare after which they must speak about the given topic for about couple of minutes. The third section involves a discussion between the examiner and the candidate, generally on the theme which is already discussed in part 2.

Scoring

How are scores reported for IELTS?

There is no cut-off score to pass the test. An IELTS result or Test Report Form is issued to all candidates with a score range from “band 1” (“non-user”) to “band 9” (“expert user”) “Band 0” score is allotted for those who did not attempt the test. In theory tests performed on native English speakers must show 9.0 results in 100%. Institutions are advised not to consider a report older than two years to be valid.