Guide to Language Exams: IELTS

One of the most issues our students are looking help with is preparing for language exams. We’re starting a series of blog posts aimed at explaining the different language proficiency exams and how to best prepare for them.

This week, we are starting by looking at the IELTS exams.

IELTS – What is it?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is one of the best known English language exams and widely recognised by governments, universities, and companies. This means that if you’re looking to move to an English speaking country, get a job or a university degree in the language, you will benefit a great deal from getting a high IELTS score.

Since IELTS is so widely used and recognised by different institutions, there are two different types of the test that are used in separate situations. There is the IELTS Academic, which is mostly used by universities and professional organisations for registration and migration. The other is IELTS General Training, which is required by Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand. It focuses more on general social language skills.

The best way to know all about the IELTS exam is to visit their website, here.

How to take an IELTS exam?

The two test formats – Academic and General Training are both very common and you shouldn’t find it difficult to find a test administered somewhere near you. There are 48 test dates a year in more than 1100 locations. The easiest way to find a recognised tester near you is to visit the IELTS official home page and select your location from a list. Or you can simply turn to your nearest British Council – they are always an accredited tester for IELTS.

You need to register for the test beforehand and also pay the test fee. The size of that fee depends on your location, but you can find out more information from the official IELTS test site or your local British Council.

What does an IELTS exam look like?

You will be graded on all four aspects of language skills: reading, listening, writing and speaking. With IELTS, all standard native English forms are recognised, meaning you can use North American, British, Australian or New Zealand English. You will be graded on a scale from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert) and you will have 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete the whole test.

All test takers finish the same listening and speaking parts of the exam. However, based on whether you are taking the Academic or General Training test, you will have different topics in the reading and writing parts.
There are no breaks between the reading, writing, and listening skills test parts. Based on the test administer, the speaking part will be held within a week of the other parts of the test, but it can also be on the same day.

How to prepare for IELTS?

Since it’s an English proficiency test, the best thing you can do for your test score is to be great at English, obviously! Although, some before-test preparation never goes amiss. Luckily, many of our teachers focus on helping students prepare for language exams and they will have experience with guiding you through the exam process. You can also find free practice tests and courses on the Internet. The official IELTS site also offers great practical tips on how to achieve the best results on your test.