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Everything you need to know about IELTS

Posted on Aug 22, 2019
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IELTS or International English Language Testing System is a standardized English language proficiency test for non-native speakers. It is managed and administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment. It is one of the most recognized English-language exams in the world. Apart from this, it is the only Secure English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration for visa customers applying from outside as well as inside the UK.

What is the IELTS format?

IELTS tests are of two types- IELTS Academics and IELTS General Training. Academics is a preparation for academic life whereas General Training is for people seeking to work or immigrate in a country where English is the major language. Both tests can be taken via a written exam or through the internet.
The sole difference between academic and general training IELTS is the content, context, and purpose. Other elements such as length, reporting of scores and duration remain the same.

1. Internet-based test

The four-hour test is divided into four sections, each measuring the candidates’ basic language skills. The sections are-

Section DescriptionSkillsDuration
Listening
4 sections with 10 questions eachUnderstanding different accents and ability to highlight important details.30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time)
Reading3 sections with multiple choice, short answers and summaries.Identifying information, identifying writer’s views and grammar.60 minutes
SpeakingFace-to-face interview with the examiner. 3 sections including interview, discussions, etc.Assesses ability to speak spontaneously and convey ideas clearly and coherently.11-14 minutes
Writing2 tasks Stating opinion, presenting solutions to problems and clear explanations.60 minutes

Scoring system

There is no minimum score required to pass or fail. The scoring system is divided into nine bands, each describing the candidates’ competency in English. The best score is 9 or an Expert User (Has fully operational command on the language: fluent in English). The lowest a person can score is 1 i.e. a Non-User (Has no ability to use the language beyond a few words. The test results are posted 13 days after the exam.

What score should I aim for?

The average score required to get admitted to any US university is 6. But if you are planning on applying to top schools or Ivy League colleges, then aim for a 7 or higher. Many business schools in the UK also demand a minimum score of 7 get admitted. It also depends on the country and the university you are going to. For e.g. Said business school needs a score of 7.5 whereas Cranfield School of Management requires a 6.5. Research your dream college well and then prepare accordingly.

Why should I opt for IELTS?

IELTS boasts of demonstrating an accurate knowledge of the test taker’s English skills. The unique scoring band records and takes into consideration every component of the language and the candidates’ abilities. It is one of the most preferred English-language tests in majority of the countries abroad like Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. It is accepted by more than 3,000 academic institutions and professional organizations worldwide.

When can I take the exam?

IELTS centers are available in more than 150 countries now, spread across over 1,200 locations. There are around 48 dates alloted per year divided between Academic and General Training. Make sure that the date you choose is 3-4 months before your application deadline to avoid any cramming or last-minute struggles.

Here are also some of the other mandatory standardized tests for studying abroad

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