Important Information about IELTS that You Cannot Miss
What is IELTS?
If you are an aspirant to international education or employment opportunities, IELTS is serious business for you. In addition to systematic preparation and practice, there is much more you need to know about IELTS.
Jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge ESOL, the International English Language Testing System is one of the most widely accepted tests in English language proficiency. Every year, over 1.4 million people around the world take the exam across 135 countries. Over 6000 institutions, organizations, and government agencies or departments accept the IELTS score as a measure for admission to higher education courses, professional training programs, and also for emigration services.
Tests are usually scheduled on Saturdays or Sundays, so that candidates might conveniently take the exam without compromising on regular lecture hours or work. There are approximately four tests conducted in a month. To gain more information about IELTS, like test dates and test centers, preparation, test format, and scoring, you could check the official IELTS website (http://www.ielts.org).
What is Tested in IELTS?
Talking about IELTS test content, it is designed and developed by international experts in language usage and evaluation from Cambridge ESOL, supported by continuing research and development initiatives. Accordingly, the test is designed to evaluate the candidates' level or ability to communicate. As there are many countries across the world that use English predominantly for their day-to-day life, and in scientific, professional, and academic contexts, it is important that candidates aspiring to work or study in these countries are able to communicate well in English.
About IELTS test format, it is divided into four sections to assess and evaluate the candidates' proficiency in the four key aspects of English language communication - Listening, Speaking, Writing, and Reading. Also, it could very well be mentioned about IELTS that the exam is truly international in nature; the test responses accept all standard varieties of English being used across the world in all sections of the test, and also a number of native accents from around the world (New Zealand, Great Britain, American, and Australian) are used in the Listening section. Also, there are two different versions of IELTS being conducted - if you are an aspiring academician or professional, or want to study further in any of the English-speaking universities/institutes, the Academic version of IELTS is for you. The General Training version of the test is intended for those who would like to work or migrate to predominantly English-speaking countries.
The IELTS does not have any concept of pass or fail. As the test is all about assessing the skills of candidates in communication, all levels of performances are evaluated in the test. The scores are reported on a nine-band scale from 0-9 (0 indicates non attempt, 1 indicates the level of a non-user, and 9 indicates expert level usage of the language).
Sections and Question Types
Whether you take the Academic version of the test or the General Training version, there are four sections in the IELTS exam. They are:
- Speaking part: The Speaking test is a 3-part interview, done with the examiner. This part of the test requires you to do a self-introduction, speak on a particular topic for 1-2 minutes (with a preparation time of one minute), and engage in a discussion with the examiner on the topic you talked about. In total, this part might take you 11-14 minutes.
- Listening part: The Listening part of the test is for approximately 30 minutes and includes 40 questions spanning across four sections (a dialogue, one monologue each on general and academic subjects, a conversation among up to four people). Each section could be heard only once. A large range of question types is being used in evaluating the listening skills of the candidates including, multiple-choice, form/note/table/flow chart completion, matching, sentence completion, and short-answer questions.
- Reading part: The Reading part differs for both Academic and General Training versions of the test to evaluate the varying requirements and levels of language usage in academic and everyday lives. However, there are three parts in each of the versions, and 40 questions each to answer in about 60 minutes. A variety of question types like multiple-choice, short-answer, matching, and completion are used to assess the reading comprehension skills of the candidates in academic and general /social contexts.
- Writing part: Whether it is about IELTS Academic or General Training version, the writing part of the test contains two writing tasks, which need to be completed within an aggregate period of one hour. The Academic version of the test requires you to use a formal style of writing, and the General Training version calls for a more casual and personal style of diction.
For more about IELTS sections, you might refer to the official IELTS site (http://www.ielts.org/pdf/Information_for_Candidates_booklet.pdf ) or the British Council website (http://www.britishcouncil.org/taiwan-exams-ielts-test-format.htm).
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