What is the IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education admission, work admission and migration.
Why is the IELTS important?
More than 11,000 organisations globally believe that this is one of the best ways of assessing a candidate’s English level. It is recognised by educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies around the world. IELTS set the standard for English language testing today and governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom use IELTS to process immigration applications.
About the IELTS exam
The IELTS cover the full range of English skills needed for success in your new job or study placement abroad.
There are 2 main IELTS tests available, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both tests are marked in exactly the same way.
- IELTS Academic is for people who would like to enter undergraduate or postgraduate education worldwide.
- IELTS General is for candidates who want to work, train or study below degree level, emigrate to an English-speaking country or simply get better work opportunities in your country.
Additional IELTS exams
- IELTS UKVI supports a UK visa application to work, live or study in the UK.
- IELTS life skills is for people who need to demonstrate the proficiency of their English speaking and listening skills in order to meet immigration requirements.
IELTS EXAM FORMAT
The entire exam lasts 2 hours 40 minutes. You’ll be assessed on the following elements:
1) Listening -You will have 30 minutes to listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to 40 questions. A variety of question types are used such as multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion and sentence completion. Each correct answer is worth 1 mark and you can receive half marks.
Recording 1 will be a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context e.g buying a ticket at a train station.
Recording 2 will be a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
Recording 3 will be a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
Recording 4 will be a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.
2) Reading- You will have one hour to read three different passages and answer 40 questions.
ACADEMIC READING TEXTS will be descriptive and factual or discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
GENERAL READING TEXTS will be extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.
In both reading exams you will have a variety of question types such as, fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text, to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions and answer multiple choice questions.
3) Writing- You will have one hour to complete two writing tasks. Task one should be completed in 20 minutes and task 2 in 40 minutes.
ACADEMIC WRITING TASK– In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in 150 words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works or describing an object or event. Task 1 is worth 33% of your writing score.
In Task 2 you will be asked to write a 250-word essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. E.g Plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic packaging are bad for the environment. What damage does plastic do to the environment? What can be done by governments and individuals to solve this problem? Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Write at least 250 words. Task 2 is worth 66% of your writing score.
GENERAL WRITING TASK– In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a 150-word letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style. You will have 20 minutes for task 1 and it is worth 33% of your writing mark.
In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. E.g Some people think that having a set retirement age (e.g. 65 years) for everybody, regardless of occupation, is unfair. They believe that certain workers deserve to retire and receive a pension at an earlier age. Do you agree or disagree? Which types of workers do you think should benefit from early retirement? Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
You can use a fairly personal style and you have 40 minutes to write 250 words. Task 2 is worth 66% of your writing mark. You will be marked on the four criteria: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation.
4) Speaking- the speaking exam is the same for both academic and general IELTS. The speaking exam lasts 11-14 minutes and consists of 3 parts.
Part 1: 4-5 Minutes, The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.
Part 2: 3 minutes The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking.
E.g Describe something you own which is very important to you. You should say:
- where you got it from
- how long you have had it
- what you use it for; and
- explain why it is important to you.
Part 3: 4-5 minutes, The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.
HOW IS THE IELTS SCORED?
You will be assessed using the IELTS band chart for each of the four sections.
On the test day
You’ll take the first three parts of the test on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.
ONLINE EXAM- You will take the Video-Call Speaking test at an official IELTS test centre with the same high standard of identity verification. The test will be exactly the same as the in-person Speaking test in terms of content, scoring, timing, level of difficulty, question format and security arrangements. Delivered by an IELTS Speaking Examiner, the video-call Speaking test will maintain the face-to-face feature of the in-person Speaking test.
This online test is currently available in Albania, Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, North Macedonia, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
What do I need to have with me on the test day?
Your identity documents
- IELTS staff will check your identity upon your arrival, the documents you received when you registered for the test will confirm which ID you’ll need. If you arrive without the correct ID you will not be able to take the test.
For the IELTS paper test, you can bring pens, pencils and erasers, but for the IELTS computer test, paper and pencils are provided for you. It is okay to bring a mobile phone, but you have to switch it off and place it with your other personal belongings in a special area arranged by the test supervisor.
Have you still got questions? Book a class with one of our professional English teachers!