Introduction to IELTS
IELTS or The International English Language testing system is an international test recognized worldwide that evaluates the English proficiency of non-native English language speakers. It was first established in the year 1989. It is one of the major English language tests in the world. This test assesses the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. It was started about 41 years ago with more than 1600 test centers in over 140 countries now.
Countries accepting IELTS test scores for immigration purposes
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, European, Irish and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organisations across the world.
It is the only secure English language test approved by UK visas and immigration (UKVI). The IELTS tests assess the ability of a candidate to listen, read, write, and speak in English. It is developed by experts at Cambridge English language assessment with inputs from writers from around the world. The band scores of IELTS used for each language skill (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) ranges from 0 (these are the ones who do not attempt the test) to 9 ( these are experts who scored the highest in this test) with each institution setting a different threshold. Usually, institutions do not consider test scores older than two years as valid scores. There can be an exception if the candidate proves to have maintained their proficiency in English, though
Countries that popularly accept IELTS
In Canada, IELTS is accepted for citizenship and immigration to Canada. It is through universities and colleges across Canada. You must take the IELTS tests if you wish to shift to Canada for work, education, or to live there. You would need to score a minimum band score of at least 6, to be allowed to emigrate to Canada.
More than 3,000 institutions in the USA accept IELTS test scores as evidence of proficiency in English Language skills. The minimum band score required in the USA can vary from 6.0 to 7.0.
To apply for a New Zealand visa permit, you need to apply in the category of skilled migrants. In which, the immigrant must have an overall band score of 6.5 in IELTS.
UK (United Kingdom)
IELTS Academic, General Training, and Life Skills are all accepted by the UK visa and immigration (UKVI). It is for those who want to work, study, or emigrate to the UK. You need to at least have a band score of 6.5 in each test and 7 as the overall band score for better placement.
Ireland accepts an IELTS score with a band requirement of at least 6.5 overall and 6.0 in each module. Hence to emigrate to Ireland, a test score of a minimum of 6.0 is mandatory.
Australia has a point-based immigration system, and the IELTS is an important part of the assessment for it. It is acceptable by the Australian government. and has been approved. It is also needed for visa and immigration purposes. Further, you need to fulfill the minimum band requirements of at least 5.5 in every module.
Types of IELTS Tests
There are different types of IELTS tests you can take. The type of test to take would be the purpose of taking the test and the country you wish to emigrate to. The IELTS test has two variants:
1. IELTS Academic
A student who desires to have an education abroad in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada among others are required to take the IELTS academic exam. The academic exam has questions and tasks that are relevant to interactions that a student would have and is more academic in nature.
The IELTS academic exam for immigration purposes can only be taken by medical professionals who wish to apply as a skilled migrant. This applies to doctors, nurses and nursing assistants, pharmacies, lab technicians, and other professionals
2. IELTS General Training
Anyone who wishes to emigrate from their home country to an English- speaking country is required to write the IELTS general training. In the IELTS general training, the writing and reading section of questions pertains to everyday work and life.
If a student wishes to continue staying back in a foreign country for work purposes after the completion of their education may have to take an IELTS general training to apply for the work visa but there are also some countries that allow international students to pursue work after graduation as an extension of the initial student visa. It is good to do a double check since the immigration policies of every country are different from each other. Professionals looking to emigrate to countries such as Australia or Canada have to take the IELTS general training. This however cannot be interchanged with an IELTS academic score.
The IELTS test format
It is an advantage to understand the format of IELTS to be able to score well in this test. Make sure you are familiar with how the IELTS test works. The two 2 IELTS tests available, which are IELTS academic and IELTS general training, are both graded in exactly the same way.
The first three parts of the test are usually taken on the same day in the following order:
The IELTS listening test is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills including how well a test giver can understand the main ideas and specific factual information. whether they are able to recognize the opinions, attitudes, and purpose of a speaker. if they are able to follow the development of an argument.
The IELTS listening test contains 40 questions with each correct answer awarded one mark the score of out of these 40 questions are converted to the IELTS 9 band scale scores are either reported in whole or half bands.
The reading test is to assess how quickly and efficiently one could read and manage one’s time. The candidate will be asked to read three different passages and answer questions in the IELTS reading test. The content of the reading test is different for both the academic and the general IELTS training tests.
The IELTS reading test also contains 40 questions with each correct answer awarded 1 mark. The score of these 40 questions is converted to the IELTS 9 band scale scores. The academic and the general training reading test are graded on the same scale; however, the academic reading test can have reading passages which contain more difficult vocabulary with greater complexity of Style.
The IELTS writing test is to assess the English writing skills of the candidate along with assessing how well a student could respond appropriately, organize ideas and use a wide range of vocabulary and grammar accurately. The writing test is on general topics. Candidates will be presented with an imaginary situation and asked to write based on the situation.
A band score for the writing test is measured on each of these four:
- Task achievement
- Coherence and Cohesion
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy
The benchmark is measured equally and the score on the tasks is the average band score.
There are no breaks between the days the Listening, Reading, and writing tests are held. However, the last test, which is the speaking test, can be held on the same day as the other three tests or a week before or after that depending on the arrangements by the University.
The speaking test would involve a certified examiner in the IELTS speaking test. It is interactive and as close to a real-life situation. A variety of accents can be used and the test is usually recorded. However, the content of the IELTS speaking test is the same for both the academic and the general IELTS training test.
The IELTS speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills the examiner will want to test, such as:
- If the student can communicate their opinions and information on general topics and common experiences.
- If they could speak at length on a given topic using appropriate link full stop
- If they could express and justify the opinions
- Organize the ideas, analyze and discuss issues easily in English.
- If a user can relax and talk fluently and sound as natural as possible.
The speaking test examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria
- Fluency and coherence
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy
These criteria are weighted equally and the speaking band score is the average of it all.
Tips and tricks to pass the IELTS exam
The IELTS exam is one of the most recognized exams which are used by many English-speaking countries for immigration of foreign nationals, be it for a student visa or for work purposes. It is also an exam that comes at a cost to attempt it. Universities charge an exam fee close to $194. Hence it is recommended you prepare for this exam thoroughly before attempting it.
To prepare for the IELTS exam it is important to understand the test format.
1. Know the test format well
Familiarise yourself with the format of the test by reviewing the test content, as well as the questions and task types for each section. I have mentioned this above under “The IELTS test format” in the same blog post.
2. Read the rules and regulations of the IELTS exam
It is important to read the IELTS exam rules and regulations that are shared with candidates at the time of registration, through the notice and declarations included in the application form.
3. Practice with Sample questions
The candidate should always practice with sample questions that can help you familiarize yourself with the format of the test.
Click on this to check the sample test questions that will help you prepare for your IELTS test. This will give you an idea of what to expect in the Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking test.
4. Take the Practice Test on the official website
Once you have done your practice and feel prepared to give the IELTS exam, it is important to test yourself by getting a progress check on the official practice test. Progress check site for IELTS academic exam / Progress check site for IELTS General training exam.
This test is an official online practice test that is marked by IELTS-trained and qualified markers. Once you give the practice test, you would receive feedback, including the overall band score with an individual band score for each exercise on listening, reading, writing, and speaking. This will help you to prepare and understand which areas you need to improve and focus on.
5. Paid Preparation courses
If you are not sure, practice for the test on your own. I would recommend you take the assistance of a paid preparation course. There are various IELTS centers and language schools around the world that help with IELTS preparations.
How to apply for IELTS, the registration, and the eligibility criteria
Now that you know all about the IELTS test, let us understand the eligibility criteria/who can take these tests. The IELTS exam is open for all and there are no specific eligibility criteria. There are many institutes that have different eligibility criteria but the IELTS test in specific has no selection criteria. However, these are some points which a candidate must keep in mind before registering for the IELTS exam:
- The minimum age of the candidate must be 16 years and above.
- The candidate must have a valid, non-expired passport.
- You will be eligible to take the IELTS if you are planning to emigrate to the UK, New Zealand, or Canada
- If you are planning to study in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand,
- If you wish to study in the USA, UK, or Australia as a medical professional.
Registration process for IELTS
You could register for IELTS both online or via an offline process. IELTS registration of the IELTS test is available on fixed dates per year depending on the demand from country to country. Candidates can also reattempt the test whenever they want. There is no limit to the number of times the candidate attempts the IELTS test, however, every time a candidate registers for the IELTS exam, he or she would have to pay an exam fee of about $194.
Steps to Register for the IELTS exam online
1.Visit the official IELTS website
2.Click on book a test.
3. Select your preferred test
4. Check for the test location closest to you
5. Fill in your personal details (Form for personal details)
6. Upload the image of your passport as instructed on the registration site.
7. Select the list of colleges that you want to send the test reports to (This is for students who want to give an academic test)
8. Pay the test fee as prescribed on the IELTS registration website. Fees can be paid online using a debit/credit card.
9. Once the payment has been made a candidate can take a printout of the acknowledgment receipt
Steps to Register for the IELTS exam offline/in person
- Visit the official IELTS website
- Click on book a test.
- Select your preferred test,
- Check for the test location closest to you
- Select your preferred location
- Click on “Register for IELTS on paper”
- Download the application form to print, complete, and submit to your local test center
- Documents required at the time of registration include a photocopy of your passport ID (front and back page) signed and dated declaration document.
- Proceed to pay the test fee at the counter of the local test center after all the documents necessary are accepted and approved by the authority.
IELTS Test Results
- The results are usually declared in13 days after the test dates for paper tests. (3-5 days for computer-delivered IELTS).
- Test centers will either post your Test Report Form to you or have it ready for you to pick up in person. You can also collect your TRF at the IDP IELTS offices. You would need to carry your passport as a form of identity proof in order to pick your TRF.
- You will receive one copy of your Test Report Form*. (*Those applying to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will receive two. You will need to provide the test center with proof of application to IRCC.)
- If you have nominated institutions to receive copies of your IELTS test results, these will be sent automatically on your behalf. Any additional copies will incur a small administration charge.
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