Demystifying IELTS

English language proficiency IELTS

The International English Language Testing System(IELTS)happens to be the world’s most widely recognised English language proficiency exam for global migration and higher education.

This test can help one study and work abroad as all major academic and employment organizations rely on bands secured in this exam.   This post will answer all the possible questions that an IELTS taker may want to know.

Is IELTS widely accepted?

Yes IELTS is mostly widely accepted test. In fact, there are more than 10,000 organizations worldwide including universities, government agencies, professional bodies and multinational companies that accept IELTS. All educational institutions in Australia including the top colleges and universities accept them too.

Are there different versions of the test?

Yes, there are two versions of the test – Academic and General.   

Which version of test suits whom?

The academic version is meant for those who are applying for higher education or professional training in an English learning environment. It is meant to assess the candidate’s readiness to begin studies or training in an English speaking environment. The general training version is a requirement for migration to Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. 

What is the distinction between the Academic Test (AT) and General Training (GT)?

Academic Training is meant to assess the candidate’s readiness to begin his/her studies or training in an environment where English language is used and absence of proper knowledge of the language can diminish candidate’s ability to understand and learn.           

General Training, on the other hand, assesses the required survival skills in social contexts.

Explain the format of the test and how long does it take?

Both AT and GT versions of test have 4 modules – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The first three modules are conducted together in a day, and it lasts for about 2 hours 45minutes whereas the Speaking module is held either a few days before or after the other three modules depending upon the availability at the respective test centre.             

There are however, now two ways to take this exam–either on paper or on a computer. The content and structure remains identical, the only difference being the speaking test where the examinee is face-to-face with the examiner, but through a screen.

Which part does the candidate take first?

The candidate has to begin with the listening test and then reading and writing modules with no breaks in between. The speaking test is conducteddepending upon the local arrangements for the test.

Is it allowed to use a pen for the Listening and Reading and Writing tests?

Only a pencil should be used for the Listening and Reading tests, whereas a pen or a pencil can be used for answering the questions in the Writing module

For Listening and Reading tests, is there any negative marking?

No, there isn’t any negative marking for the Listening and Reading tests. In case of an incorrect answer, no marks are given, and spelling and punctuation mistakes also affect the final scores. 

What does the reading module consist of?
The reading test is different for the Academic Test and General Test version, though both of them have 40 questions and 1 hour to answer them.

The Academic Test version has 3 long texts in three sections appropriate for undergraduate or post-graduate course seeking candidates and those seeking professional registration.

The General Test version has 3 sections with 2-3 short texts in the first 2 sections. This form of version is more focused on social survival and workplace skills.

The question types are same in both these versions as well.

What does the listening module consist of?

The listening module consists of 4 audios sectioned in 4 parts. They are talks on different subjects in the first and third part, and monologues and speeches in the second and fourth parts. Both General and Academic Training tests have the same parts and 40 questions to answer. 

What does the writing module include?

Both versions consist of 2 tasks. In the academic version, the first task requires the candidate to write a report or description using the graphs, pie charts, illustration, table or diagram. The second task is all about writing an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. In the General Training version, however, the first task is to write a letter describing a situation or a response or requesting information. The second task is an essay to an argument, point of view, or problem. 

What kinds of skills are needed for the speaking test?

This module includes three parts, the first has personal questions about choices and habits, the second part the test taker has to speak at length for 2 minutes on a given topic, and the third part requires responses to more abstract questions and those that seek the speaker’s point of view. The candidate is supposed to present good grammatical skills, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency.

What are the patterns of tests marking?

Eachright answer in the listening and reading modules gets one mark each. So the total scores out of 40 are converted to a band score in accordancewith a conversion chart. The criterion for writing has four components- Task Achievement, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, Coherence and Cohesion and Lexical Resources. Each of the tasks is marked for all these criteria and subsequently the average score of these, becomes the final score for each task.           

In how much time are the test results out?

For the paper-based test, the results are declared in 13 days and for a CD-based test, the results are out in 7 days.