Last Updated: February 11, 2021
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the standardized tests of the English language, whose scores are accepted by many universities worldwide, especially universities in Europe. If you plan on higher studies in Europe, you will be required to take this exam to prove your proficiency in the different aspects of English.
Quick Facts About IELTS:
- IELTS is an English language proficiency test accepted by universities, immigration departments, government agencies, and even multi-national companies.
- It has four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The first 3 sections will be conducted on the same day and the Speaking section will be conducted later or on the same day according to local arrangements.
- The test has a time span of 2 hours and 45 minutes and is scored on a scale of 9. These scores are valid for two years since the time of taking the test.
- IELTS is conducted up to 48 times in a year which amounts to even four times a month depending on the demand.
- There are two types namely:
- ACADEMIC VERSION TEST - This is designed for candidates seeking admissions for higher education in universities, for experts in the various field who want to pursue their jobs in Europe.
- GENERAL TRAINING VERSION TEST - This is designed for candidates seeking secondary education, work experience, training programs or immigration reasons. The test is also necessary for countries like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand apart from the UK.
- The two sections have the Listening and Speaking skills similar and with Reading and Writing sections different.
- The test is usually conducted on Thursdays or Saturdays in a week.
IELTS Performance Facts
- More than 3.5 million IELTS tests are taken every year and it's increasing with every other year.
- Among total test-takers 77% take academic tests and 23% take the general training test.
- Based on gender, around 53% of women and 47% of men give the test overall.
- In the Academic Section females have an overall mean performance of 6.10 and men have an overall mean performance of 6.03.
- In the General Training section. females have an overall score of 6.62 where men have an overall score of 6.56.
- Mean score of some countries for the Academic test is (in 2019): Bangladesh: 6.2, China: 5.8, India: 6.1, South Korea: 6, Nigeria: 6.8, United Arab Emirates: 5.1, Germany: 7.4.
- Mean score of the same countries for the General Training test in 2019 is : Bangladesh: 6.5, China: 5.8, India:6.1, South Korea:6.0, United Arab Emirates:5.1, Germany:7.4.
How To Ace the IELTS Test
1. Understand the Test Format:
2. Tips for Each Section:
I. Reading Section:
- Both the IELTS test types have the four sections namely Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking, but they differ in the Reading and Writing Section.
- The Listening, Reading, and Writing Tests must be taken on the same day, while the Speaking test can be attempted seven days before or after the three tests.
- Each of these sections has been allotted a specific amount of time within which you have to complete the sections. The Listening section is given 30 minutes where you have to listen to 4 recordings and answer 40 questions. The Reading section has 60 minutes for 40 questions whereas the Writing section has another 60 minutes. The Speaking section differs from all of these and provides just around 11-14 minutes for all 3 parts.
a) Listening Test
- This part has four recordings of native English speakers.
- The four parts have 10 questions each and the section, as a whole, has 40 questions in all.
- The questions are framed according to the order in which the answers were present in the recording.
- Each section can be heard only once with the questions provided towards the end of it.
- The accents include British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian.
- This section contains multiple-choice questions, plan/map/diagram labelling, summary completion, sentence completion and matching.
- Poor spelling and Grammar is penalized and hence requires careful rendition of answers.
b) Reading Test
- It contains 40 questions in all which is split into 3 sections.
- The Academic Test comprises of 3 long passages in the three sections with questions provided
towards the end of each text.
- The General Test comprises of 3 sections where the first section may have 2 or 3 short passages , second section has 2 texts and third section has one long text.
- There can be multiple-choice questions, matching information, flow-chart completion, summary completion, diagram labelling, short-answer questions, etc. in this section.
- The passages are generally taken from books/ journals/ magazines/ newspapers written for a non-specialist audience.
- The passage may deal with narrative, descriptive or argumentative texts.
- Poor spelling and Grammar is penalized in this section as well.
c) Writing Test
- It comprises of two tasks which should contain 150 and 250 words respectively. These tasks are given 20 and 40 minutes each.
- In the Academic Test, Task 1 requires a description of the given figure/ data whereas Task 2
is about writing an essay on a perspective/ problem.
- Essays should be written in a formal style.
- In the General Test, Task 1 requires writing a letter describing the scene at hand or
requesting information whereas Task 2 requires writing an essay regarding a viewpoint
or an argument.
- The General section requires a personal style of writing.
- Answers should NOT be written as notes or bullet points.
d) Speaking Test
- It is a face to face oral exam divided into three sections.
- The tests are all recorded.
- The first section is an interview where the candidate may be asked to introduce himself
along with questions ranging from his hobbies to general topics.
- The first section is given four to five minutes of time in all.
- The second section provides the candidate with a topic and 1 minute preparation time to speak about it.
- In the second section you will be required to talk for 2 minutes after which the examiner may ask you a few questions regarding the topic.
- The third section involves a conversation between the candidate and the examiner relating to the topic in the second section.
- The third section is about discussing abstract ideas and concepts.
- The third section lasts for another four to five minutes.
II. Writing Section:
- Improving your Vocabulary is a good place to start. Focus on complex words, break them to fit into your understanding and commit them to memory.
- Reading the newspaper and books increases the speed of reading which is essential to crack this section.
- Preparative materials, online forums, flashcards, and practice questions give an idea of what type of questions to expect and help improving Reading skills.
III. Listening Section:
- Vocabulary not only plays a role in improving Reading skills but also writing skills.
- The more you write, the more errors will be discovered, and your writing skills and grammatical competency can be perfected.
IV. Speaking Section:
- Listening skills can be improved through various online sample questions available.
- For people with trouble in understanding the English accent, a large number of movies can be watched to improve their listening skills.
3.The Final Touch:
- Communication is the most important prerequisite to qualify for any education.
- Communication can be improved by speaking to a lot of people. This will help in expanding the Vocabulary and speaking fluency by picking their brains.
- Practice and more practice speaking in English is the only way to ace this section.
- The only way to improve your English skills is through practice and dedication.
- Many Practice tests are available online for a continuous and strenuous workout which helps in shaping your English to the desired effect.
- Official IELTS Practice Material Volume I and II come with elaborate explanations on every section with abundant sample questions and practice tests in the CDs accompanying the books.
- Getting good sleep the night before the test and maintaining a calm demeanor always
Hard work never fails. With the above points in mind, acing the IELTS should be easy.