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The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the most popular standardized test of proficiency in the English language. IELTS scores are accepted in almost all the universities and colleges of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA. Apart from education, IELTS is also the recognized test for immigration, non academic training or to just work in an English speaking nation.
There are two variants of the IELTS test depending on the purpose of entry to the country.
The IELTS Academic version of the test is for those who would like to enroll in universities and colleges in pursuit of higher education.
The IELTS General Training version is for those planning to take non educational training, work and immigration to English speaking countries.
IELTS results are issued with score bands of 0 to 9 with scoring spread across 4 sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
The Listening, Reading and Writing test is conducted in one sitting while the Speaking part could be held on either the same day or on any of the 7 days before or after the earlier tests. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
The Academic and General Training variants have the same Listening and Speaking tests and differ only in the Reading and Writing sections.
Here’s a brief overview of what is to be expected in the tests
- Duration : 40 minutes (30 minutes for the test and 10 minutes to write down the answers)
- Sections 1 and 2 are about everyday social situations
- Sections 3 and 4 are about educational and training situations
Students are given 30 minutes to go through all the sections and then 10 more minutes to answer the questions. The questions are posed in the same order as the information in the recording and the sections can only be heard once. Students will have to take special care as they lose marks for incorrect grammar and spelling.
- Duration : 60 minutes
- Contains 3 sections with a variety of question types such as multiple choice, identifying information and the writer’s views, labeling diagrams and matching information.
- The 3 texts in the ACADEMIC test are general interest topics taken from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources.
- The texts in the GENERAL TRAINING test contain passages taken from everyday issues, work related topics and general interest concerns.
- Duration : 60 minutes
- This section requires two questions to be answered in a minimum of 150 and 250 words respectively. Marks are deducted in case the answers are too short or do not pertain to the suggested topic.
- The topics in the ACADEMIC test include: 1) describing a graph, chart or a diagram and 2) presenting an argument or a point of view with a directive to explain, justify and substantiate the writer’s opinion.
- The GENERAL TRAINING test requires the test taker to write an essay on topics of general interest and to write a letter in response to a given everyday situation.
- Duration : 11 – 14 minutes
- The Speaking test is a face to face interview with the examiner and consists of 3 sections.
- The first section is an introduction round requiring test takers to talk about themselves, their families, work, hobbies and the reason for taking the IELTS exam among other things.
- In the second task, test takers are given a topic card with a particular topic along with specific points of interest to be included in the test taker’s reply. The test taker is given one minute to prepare and are expected to talk for 2 minutes about the topic.
- The final task is usually a discussion between the interviewer and the test taker regarding the topic given in task 2 along with a couple of questions by the interviewer.
The IELTS Test result is released 13 days after the date of the test in which the overall band score along with individual sub scores are reported. The validity of the IELTS score is for 2 years.