International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world's most popular high-stakes English language proficiency test for study, work and migration. It assesses the English ability of non-native English speakers. IELTS was developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts to test the full range of English skills that are needed to succeed in a new job or study placement abroad.
There’s basically two types of the IELTS exam, General Training IELTS and Academic IELTS. The major difference between them is the purpose, if you’re taking the IELTS test to get into an English speaking institution or professional registration, you’ll need to do the Academic IELTS but if it is for migration purposes, you should take the General IELTS test.
Academic IELTS is intended for prospective students applying to study in an English-speaking University as well as for some professionals and job applicants. General Training IELTS on the other hand, is for employment, immigration purposes where individuals apply to migrate and settle in abroad nations like Australia, Canada, New Zealand etc.
The IELTS test can be taken via paper or on a computer. Computer-based IELTS tests have the same content as paper-based IELTS, questions, marking and timings, except the Listening, Reading and Writing tests are taken using a desktop computer. There are more test dates available for computer-delivered IELTS, so test takers can pick the date suitable for them, and expect to get the results within 3 to 5 days.
IELTS test format
You’ll be assessed on all four elements of language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You have to take the Listening, Reading and Writing tests all on the same day one after the other continuously whereas your Speaking test may be on the same day as the other three tests or up to seven days before or after that depending on the test center. The total test time is under three hours. You can give the test via paper or a computer.
- IELTS Listening test
In a listening test you have to listen to four recordings and answer the questions asked. The recordings are of native English speakers and the duration of the test is 30 minutes where you need to answer 40 questions. Assessors will look for evidence of your ability to understand the key concepts and detailed factual information, the views and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an expression and proof of your ability to follow the creation of new ideas.
Recording 1: A dialogue placed in daily life and context.
Recording 2: A monologue about everyday social context.
Recording 3: A conversation between more than two people placed in a training or educational context.
Recording 4: A monologue on any academic subject.
- IELTS Reading test
The IELTS Reading test also requires you to answer 40 questions and is intended to test you on a range of reading skills. You will have to read for gist, key ideas, information, rational arguments, skimming, and finding out the attitudes, opinions and intentions of the authors. The Academic Module Reading Test consists of three lengthy texts that can be descriptive, factual and analytical and the texts are extracted from magazines, books, newspapers or journals and are ideal for people who want to study abroad for college education or professional registration. Whereas extracts in the reading test for the General Training module are taken from the newspaper, books, notices, company handbooks, advertisements and magazines.
- IELTS Writing test
Based on the module you are taking, the IELTS writing test requires you to complete two tasks and covers topics of general interest. The IELTS Academic module comprises topics suitable for undergraduate and postgraduate students and includes two tasks that you need to perform, also make sure you respond to both tasks in formal style. And the time limit to complete this test is 60 minutes.
Task 1: There will be a table, chart, graph or diagram that you will have to describe, explain or summarize in your own words. You might also be asked to explain the data shown, and stages and working of a process.
Task 2: You will have to write an essay as a response to an argument, problem or opinion.
The IELTS General Training module consists of extracts on general topics from books, magazines, notices, company handbooks and guidelines that you are likely to face on a regular basis and also comprises two tasks.
Task 1: You will have to write a letter to request information on or explain the given situation. You may choose to write it informally or formally.
Task 2: You will have to write an essay as a response to a problem. You may choose to write it in informal style.
- IELTS Speaking test
Your spoken English abilities are tested by the IELTS Speaking test. The test is recorded and performed in three sections and the time limit to complete this test is around 11 to 14 minutes.
Part 1 – The interviewer will ask you general questions about yourself and a number of familiar subjects, such as home, family, work, study and interests. The duration is about four to five minutes.
Part 2 – You will be provided with a card that asks you to speak about a specific subject. Before speaking for up to two minutes, you will get one minute to plan and prepare. The examiner will also ask one or two questions on the same subject.
Part 3 - You will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. It lasts between four and five minutes.
How can I book the IELTS exam?
First log on to a website with IELTS test and select the option ‘Register for Test’. Then pick your desired test location. Then you can choose from various test dates and book your preferred date. Fill up the required details and finally proceed to pay the test fee. The availability of the dates may differ as per the test type and module you have opted for - Academic or General Training so you need to be careful while booking your IELTS exam.
What do I need to take in the IELTS exam?
Arrive early so that you have enough time to check in and move through all necessary security procedures. Take your ID and it must be the same identification that you provided on your IELTS Application form. Take a pen, pencil and eraser as you will need a pencil and eraser for Listening and Reading.
When will I receive my IELTS result?
The results depend on the type of test you have taken. If you have taken a paper-based test you will be able to view your test results after 13 calendar days from the test date. If you have taken the computer-based test you will be able to view your test results after 3 to 5 calendar days from the test date.
Listen attentively to the instructions of the test supervisor. If you are unable to hear or you are unsure, raise your hand and the supervisor will help you resolve any of your problems.