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IELTS Test Exam
What Skills Does the IELTS Test
The IELTS is considered one of the most widely accepted English language proficiency exams around the globe. Over 6000 organizations including universities, educational institutes, and government agencies all over the world accept the IELTS test exam score as a measure for admission to professional training and higher education programs, as well as for migration requirements.
What Skills are Tested?
The IELTS test exam is designed and developed to evaluate a candidate's level of proficiency in English language communication. As it is an international exam, the test content is developed to include and accept the truly international nature of English. For example, a number of accents like those from New Zealand, US, and Australia are used in the Listening part of the test, and all standard varieties of English are accepted in candidate responses.
As the communication abilities required vary in different circumstances, the IELTS test exam is conducted in two different versions to test the required skills. The Academic version of the test is for those aspirants who wish to pursue graduate/post-graduate education abroad. Many professional organizations also accept the Academic version scores. The General Training version of the test is for those would like to work or emigrate to predominantly English speaking countries.
Sections of the Test
Whether Academic or General Training, the IELTS test exam is divided into four sections, to assess and measure the candidates' abilities and skills in the four basic aspects of communication like speaking, listening, writing, and reading:
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- Speaking: Candidates' abilities to communicate effectively are tested here in different situations. The main parameters on which candidates are assessed are fluency and coherence, grammatical accuracy and range, pronunciation, and lexical resources. The test is the same for both versions of the IELTS test exam.
- Listening: Candidates' understanding of main ideas, their ability to recognizing opinions, attitudes, and purpose of a speaker, and their ability to follow the development of an argument are evaluated here. All candidates get only one chance to hear the recordings. The test is the same for both versions of the exam.
- Writing: The Writing part differs in both Academic and General Training versions of the test; this is to ensure that the varying levels of written communication skills required for academic and everyday lives are measured appropriately. A formal style of writing is required for the Academic version of the test, and a more casual and personal style is apt for the General Training version. Candidates' ability to organize ideas, to write with coherence and appropriateness, and their vocabulary and grammatical accuracy are assessed/evaluated here.
- Reading: The reading skills test is different for Academic and General Training versions of IELTS test exam. Each test is divided into three parts. The questions are used to assess the reading comprehension skills of candidates appropriate for academic and work/everyday lives.
As the IELTS test exam is all about measuring the communication skills, all levels of performances are evaluated in the test, and there is no pass or fail. For all those who take the test, the scores are reported on a nine-band scale (from 0 to 9).
Tasks and Questions Types
Across the four sections of the IELTS test exam, a variety of tasks and question types are used in order to assess the candidates' communication skills:
- Speaking: This oral part of the exam requires candidates to complete three different tasks during a face-to-face interview. The candidates are to provide a self-introduction initially, and then talk about a given topic for 1 or 2 minutes. The candidates are given a minute's time to prepare for this talk. The third part of the test is a one-on-one discussion with the examiner on the topic already talked about.
- Listening: The Listening part of the test is for approximately 30 minutes and includes four sub-sections. The candidates get to listen to a dialogue in the first part, one monologue each on general and academic subjects in the next two parts, and a conversation among up to four people in the last part. There are 40 questions to be answered and they are of a variety of types including, multiple-choice, form/note/sentence//table/flow chart completion, matching, and short-answer questions.
- Reading: Both versions of the test include three sections for the reading test. There are a total of 40 questions to be answered in one hour, based on the different text passages provided. Different types of questions are included in this part, like matching, multiple-choice, sentence/note/summary/ table/flow chart/diagram completion, identifying the writer's views or specific information, and short-answers. In the Academic version, the passages given are appropriate to candidates entering academic courses, while the General Version text passages are of more of casual nature taken from newspapers, journals, magazines, editorials, etc.
- Writing: There are two tasks each to be completed in an hour, in both version of IELTS test exam. The first task of the Academic version requires candidates to summarize or explain or interpret data, while the second task is to write an essay on a given argument or point (both topics being academic in nature). The first task of the General Training version is to write a letter based on given situation; the letter could be personal or semi-formal. In the second task of the General Training version, candidates are required to write an essay on a given point, however, the topic is of a more general nature.
For more information on IELTS sections, please refer to the official IELTS information booklet (http://www.ielts.org/pdf/Information_for_Candidates_booklet.pdf).
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