Understanding the IELTS Exam

What is it?

IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It is an exam designed to test proficiency of the exam taker in the English  language.


Which countries require an IELTS certification?

IELTS is accepted as proof of proficiency for work, study and migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom as well as in the United States of America.


Which Exam should I take?

The  IELTS exam are of two types – those that have the General Training Section and the Academic section. The General Training test is a measure of English proficiency in general and everyday situations. The exam is designed to test responses in workplace as well as a standard testing system for proficiency. The academic exam focuses more on analysis of data, discursive and opinion based task to test the understanding of  the test taker in an academic context.

GENERAL TEST

The exam consists of four sections –

Reading

Writing

Listening

Speaking


Reading, writing and listening are scheduled on the same day while the speaking exam is scheduled for another day.The Test taker is required to retain  his/her exam ticket till both tests (reading/writing/listening and speaking) are complete.

Reading (60 mins)

The reading section generally has three parts to it.

1.Two or three short paragraphs of text followed by  questions(multiple choice, fill in the blanks, true or false)

2.Two short, generally employment or work related paragraphs followed by questions(match titles to labelled paragraphs, fill in the blanks)

3.A large paragraph followed by questions based on the  paragraph. (Objective questions – Match the following, fill in the blanks)

Writing(60 mins)

This section has two questions.

1.Letter writing (a minimum of 150 words)

This task requires the test taker to write a formal letter. The question  outlines two or three points that the test taker must elaborate in detail while writing the letter.

2.Essay( a minimum of 250 words)

This section could be of the descriptive, narrative or opinion-based variety. A topic and two or three points are provided to the exam taker, and he or she must elaborate.

Listening(30 mins + 10 mins)

The listening section contains four recorded monologues spread across 30 minutes. Test takers are given about five minutes between recordings to jot down the answers. The questions are of the objective variety ( fill in the blanks, multiple choice). Exam takers are given an additional 10 minutes to transfer their answers to the answer sheet.

Speaking(11-15 mins)

The speaking exam is scheduled on a different day. The exam taker is required to answer various questions relating to general affairs and specific topics set by the examiner.  The examiner leads the speakers through  a series of questions that test fluency, vocabulary and confidence. Test takers also get time to organize their thoughts before answering  questions. Most questions are of the narrative or opinion variety.

ACADEMIC TEST 

The exam consists of four sections –

Reading

Writing

Listening

Speaking


Reading, writing and listening are scheduled on the same day

while the speaking exam is scheduled for another day. The Test

taker is required to retain his/her exam ticket till both tests

(reading/writing/listening and speaking) are complete.

Reading (60 mins)

The reading section generally has three parts to it.

1.Graphs, descriptive and discursive text followed by analytical questions of the objective variety(multiple choice, fill in the blanks, true or false)

2.Diagram-based text, bar and pie charts or other illustrationfollowed by factual text and analytical or reasoning questions.

3.A long  paragraph accompanied by graphs or statistics followed by objective questions based on the paragraph.

Writing(60 mins)

This section has two questions.

1.Data interpretation (a minimum of 150 words)

This task requires the test taker to interpret a graph, table, chart orstatistic and present a summary or  opinion with justification.

2.Essay( a minimum of 250 words)

This section could be of the narrative or opinion-based variety.  Atopic and two or three points are provided to the exam taker, andhe or she must elaborate.

Listening(30 mins + 10 mins)

The listening section contains four recorded monologues spreadacross 30 minutes. Test takers are given about five minutes between recordings to jot down the answers. The questions are of the objective  variety ( fill in the blanks, multiple choice). Exam takers are given an additional 10 minutes to transfer their answers to the answer sheet.

Speaking(11-15 mins)

The speaking exam is scheduled on a different day. The exam taker is  required to answer various questions relating to general affairs   and specific topics set by the examiner. The examiner leads the speaker through a series of questions that test fluency, vocabularyand confidence. Test takers also get time to organize their  thoughts before answering questions. Most questions are of thenarrative or opinion variety.