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Everything You Need to Know About IELTS Exam

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a key to unlocking many opportunities in education and migration across many English-speaking countries. Whether you are planning to pursue higher education, seeking professional registration, or considering moving abroad, achieving an acceptable score on the IELTS exam is important. Here, we have put together everything you may be curious about the IELTS exam.

What is IELTS For?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardised English proficiency exam designed primarily for individuals who need to prove their English language skills for purposes of higher education or global migration. IELTS exam evaluates a candidate’s ability in listening, reading, writing, and speaking through a structured test format totalling 2 hours and 45 minutes.
These components are typically completed in a single session, except for the speaking test, which can be scheduled separately.

Why Do You Need to Take IELTS?

IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is essential for individuals seeking to study, work, or migrate to English-speaking countries. Taking the IELTS test verifies your ability to communicate effectively in English, ensuring that you can succeed in an academic setting, perform professionally, and integrate socially in an English-speaking environment.
Achieving a satisfactory score on the IELTS can significantly enhance your opportunities for educational advancement, professional employment, and residency in countries where English is the primary language of communication.

What Are the 4 Parts of the IELTS Exam?

The IELTS exam consists of four parts, each designed to assess different aspects of your English language proficiency. These parts are listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Listening

This section lasts for 30 minutes and includes listening to four recordings of native English speakers, then answering questions based on what you have heard. The recordings include a range of accents and scenarios. You are expected to understand the recordings and answer the follow up questions correctly.

Reading

The reading section takes 60 minutes and involves reading three texts of varying complexities and answering questions related to the content, structure, and ideas within the texts. The materials and writings are chosen to be appropriate for candidates entering university or professional registration.

Writing

The writing section also lasts 60 minutes. In this part you are required to complete two different tasks. In Task 1, you might need to describe visual information (such as a graph, table, or diagram), and in Task 2, you will be asked to write an essay in response to an argument or a problem.

Speaking

Taking 11 to 14 minutes, the speaking test is a face-to-face interview with an examiner. This part is structured in three sections: an introduction and interview, a short speech on a given topic, and a discussion revolving around the topic introduced in the speech. You are asked to talk about the given topic for the examiner to determine your English communication skills.

IELTS Band Scores Scale and Skill Level Description

IELTS results are reported on a 9-band scoring system, known as the Band Score. This scale identifies proficiency levels in English from non-user (band score 1) through to expert (band score 9). Here, we have explained the IELTS band scores of each skill level:
Band 9 (Expert User): Has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate, and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
Band 8 (Very Good User): Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 (Good User): Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness, and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
Band 6 (Competent User): Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriateness, and misunderstandings. Can use and understand complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 (Modest User): Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
Band 4 (Limited User): Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Band 3 (Extremely Limited User): Understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
Band 2 (Intermittent User): No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 (Non-User): Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
Band 0: Did not attempt the test. No accessible information provided.

What is the Difference Between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?

The IELTS test comes in two formats: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both versions assess the four main language skills but are targeted at different groups and have different content in the reading and writing sections.

IELTS Academic

This version is intended for those who plan to study in higher education or seek professional registration in an English-speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.
The reading section includes three long texts which are discursive and analytical. The writing section includes tasks such as describing data or a process from a given graph or chart and writing an essay in response to an argument.

IELTS General Training

This version is suitable for those who are going to English-speaking countries for secondary education, work experience, or training programs. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
The test focuses on basic English language skills in broad social and workplace contexts. The reading section includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter daily in an English-speaking environment. The writing section tasks include writing a letter and an essay, which are generally more based on personal experience or general views.

Frequently Asked Questions About IELTS Exam

What is the difference between IELTS and TOEFL?

IELTS and TOEFL are both English proficiency tests but differ in format and accent. IELTS includes various global accents and offers Academic and General versions while TOEFL focuses on American English and is primarily academic, conducted via computer. Each has a unique scoring system and geographic preferences for acceptance.

Which countries accept IELTS?

IELTS is accepted by over 140 countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Canada. It is widely recognized by universities, employers, professional bodies, and immigration authorities.

How much does IELTS cost?

The cost of taking the IELTS test varies depending on the country where the test is taken. Generally, the fee ranges between USD 215 and USD 250.

How does the IELTS exam determine English language skills?

The IELTS exam assesses English language skills through four key components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Each section is designed to test different aspects of proficiency, from understanding spoken English and reading comprehension to written communication and verbal interaction.

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