What is the IELTS test, IELTS Format?

Also Learn about IELTS Band Scores: How they are calculated

What is IELTS Test?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is conducted by three institutions, namely, the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment (University of Cambridge).

Why IELTS Test?

Students aspiring to study in the topmost universities and colleges of the English-speaking world need to clear an English language proficiency test. Non-native speakers of English have to show that they can read, write, speak, and understand English, so as to be able to follow lectures, study, take exams, and interact comfortably with fellow students, teachers and the local population. For this purpose as well as for the purpose of immigration, a standardised English language proficiency test for non-native English speakers has been established as a pre-requisite for the selection process. IELTS is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test and a world of opportunity awaits those who clear the required scores.

IELTS TEST PURPOSE :

  • IELTS is the most impartial and trustworthy English proficiency test available for the purposes of study, work, and immigration.
  • Most academic institutions in English-speaking countries, like, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and an increasing number of educational institutions in the United States, accept IELTS for study.
  • For work purposes, many professional organisations recognise IELTS as the standard test.
  • For migration, IELTS is required or accepted for permanent residency by the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

IELTS TEST VALUE :

  • IELTS is developed by education and language experts with vast experience in teaching English, conducting exams and producing educational content.
  • IELTS test material is exhaustively researched and is constantly in the process of being reviewed and updated by experts and academics.
  • In view of the varied backgrounds, nationalities, genders, of the people taking the IELTS exam, care is taken to ensure that the test is unbiased and neutral.
  • It is an internationally relevant test because it accepts both British and American spellings.
  • The test makes use of Australian, British and American accents, thus covering the major English-speaking accents.

IELTS TEST VERSIONS :

There are two versions of the IELTS test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The purpose of both tests is different and the one you take will depend on the requirements of the academic institution you plan to study in, your work/professional or visa requirements.

  • IELTS Academic: This test is meant for students wishing to study at universities and institutes of higher education in countries where English is the medium of instruction in the classroom. Many professions, like, medical, nursing, engineering etc., also require an IELTS Academic result for registration. The Academic test is designed to assess the proficiency in English required in an academic and higher learning environment.
  • IELTS General Training: This test is usually a visa requirement for those applying for permanent residency to English speaking countries, such as, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Persons going to these countries for training programmes, employment or secondary education, are required to take this test. IELTS General Training is intended to test the English skills that an immigrant or a worker would need for communication in the workplace and in an everyday environment.

IELTS Test format

The IELTS test assesses your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking – in less than three hours.

There are two types of IELTS tests:  IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing components differs depending on which test you take.

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

The Speaking component, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test centre will advise.

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

30 minutes

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  • Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
  • Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

60 minutes

The Reading component consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS Academic test – this includes three long texts which range from descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.  They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering

60 minutes

The Reading component consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS General Training test – this includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

  • 60 minutesTopics are of general interest to, and suitable for, test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. There are two tasks:
    • Task 1 – you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
    • Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.
  • 60 minutesTopics are of general interest. There are two tasks:
    • Task 1 – you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
    • Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.

11–14 minutes

The speaking component assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

  • Part 1 – the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
  • Part 2  – you will be given a card that asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
  • Part 3 – you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

HOW ARE IELTS BANDS ALLOTTED?

Candidates are judged on a band scale of 1 to 9 in each part of the test. These bands clearly mention a candidate’s ability to use and understand English. IELTS results are valid only for 2 years. There is no pass or fail system in the IELTS test.

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