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A key prerequisite for university admissions, especially if you’re coming from a country where the primary language taught in schools is English, is acing the IELTS test.
According to the IELT official organisation, it’s clear that IELTS certification is necessary for undergraduate and postgraduate university admissions.
What is the IELTS?
IELTS is also known as the International English Language Testing System, it is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. This test is accepted by most Australians, British, Canadian, European, Irish and New Zealand.
The IELTS test has 4 four parts and they are namely the:
|Listening||30 minutes (+10 minutes transfer time)|
|Speaking||11 – 14 minutes|
|Total test time||2 hours 45 minutes|
The listening, reading and writing components are completed in one seating. As for the speaking test, it may be taken on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests.
In the IELTS test, there is no pass or fail. The test is scored on a nine-band scale and they are as follows:
|9||Expert user||Has fully operational command of the language – appropriate, accurate, fluent with complete understanding|
|8||Very good user||Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.|
|7||Good user||Has fully operational command of the language with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.|
|6||Competent user||Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.|
|5||Modest user||Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.|
|4||Limited user||Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Not able to use complex language.|
|3||Extremely limited user||Conveys and understands the only general meaning. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.|
|2||Intermittent user||No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.|
|1||Non-user||Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond a few isolated words.|
|0||Did not attempt the test|
There are 4 sections within the listening component with ten questions in each section. The listening component takes 40 minutes to complete and is broken down into 30 minutes for testing and 10 minutes for transferring the answers to the answer sheet.
Section 1 and 2
This section tests students on everyday, social situations.
Section 3 and 4
This section tests students about educational and training situations.
10 Tips for the Listening component in the IELTS test
1 – It is important to make sure your headphones are properly functioning. Contact the administrators if you think there is a problem.
2 – Always read through the questions before the recording starts. This will help you pinpoint the answers as you are listening to the recording.
3 – Note down answers on question paper while the recording is being played.
4 – Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
5 – There will always be one or two-word answers, so don’t write more.
6 – Use your prior knowledge to predict the answers. Sometimes answers may seem obvious, and your general knowledge may be enough for answering them.
7 – The examiner only checks answers in the answer sheet. So make sure you transfer answers correctly.
8 – Don’t try to understand everything. Focus on finding the answers to the questions.
9 – If you miss an answer, move on to the next one. Don’t lose your pace in the recording.
10 Concentration for the whole 30 minutes is really important. If you lose focus, you will end up missing questions.
The reading component consists of three sections and texts totalling up to 2000 to 3000 words. There will be a variety of question types and they are as follows:
- Multiple choice
- Short answer questions
- Identifying information
- Identifying writer’s views
- Labelling diagrams
There will be 3 reading texts which come from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources.
This section contains two or three short texts which deal with everyday topics.
This section contains two texts which deal with work.
In this section, there is one long text about a topic of general interest. The text in this section is generally descriptive, longer and more complex than the other sections.
14 Reading section test tips
1 – Skimming and scanning is an effective strategy.
2 – Reading the questions before reading the passage is helpful.
3 – Don’t try to understand the whole passage.
4 – Concentrate on parts relevant to your question and revisit them only.
5 – Develop your reading skills for quick reading by reading newspapers, books etc.
6 – Ensuring the answer is grammatically correct can help you spot the right answer out of all options.
7 – PRACTICE. Attempt a lot of practice tests.
8 – Learn from your mistakes. Analyse the question types that you are getting wrong in your practice tests and see why you are making that mistake. (Analysing might need expert help.)
9 – Plan your IELTS preparation well. (This is what experts at Tutopiya will help you do!)
10 -If you can’t find the answer to a particular question, move on.
11 – Mark and revisit the difficult questions later if you have time.
12 – Divide how much time you want to devote to each passage and adhere to it.
13 – Write your answers directly on the answer sheet as there is no time for transferring later.
14 – It is recommended to write all answers in capital letters.
The writing section has 2 tasks that students have to complete. For the first task, students will be required to write at least 150 words in 20 minutes. The second task would require students to write at least 250 words in 40 minutes.
IELTS test Academic
Task 1: students will be asked to describe a graph, table, chart etc in their own words.
Task 2: students will be asked to discuss a point of view, argument or problem. Depending on the task given, students may be asked to present a solution to a problem, present and justify an opinion etc.
IELTS test General Training
Task 1: students may be tasked to write a letter in response to a given everyday situation.
Task 2: in this task, students may be asked to write an essay about a topic of general interest.
16 Writing test tips
The following are the tips provided by the official IELTS agency British Council and have proven to be the most successful.
1 – Analyse each task properly and spend some time making notes
2 – Highlight or underline keywords in the tasks to make sure that you focus on what you have to do
3 – Plan your answers
4 – Use paragraphs clearly; put one idea in each paragraph
5 – Do not repeat ideas using different words
6 – Do not copy whole sentences from the question – you will receive no marks for this
7 – Keep to the topic; do not write about unrelated subjects
8 – Manage your time; remember, Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1
9 – Spend approximately 20 minutes on Task 1 and approximately 40 minutes on Task 2
10 – Pay attention to the number of words required for each task; you will lose marks if you do not write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2
11 – Learn to recognise how long 150 and 250 words look in your handwriting; you will not have time to count during the test
12 – You must write your answers in full; answers written in note form or in bullet points will lose marks
13 – Pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation; you will lose marks for mistakes
14 – Avoid informal language
15 – Do not memorise model answers; examiners are trained to recognise them and your test will be invalid
16 – Spend several minutes re-reading and correcting your answers
This component requires the student to have a face-to-face interview with the examiner. The speaking test consists of three sections.
This section is the introduction and interview part and takes about 4 to 5 minutes. The student may be asked about general topics such as their home, family, work, studies etc.
This section is also known as the long turn and takes about 3 to 4 minutes. Test takers are given a task card about a particular topic.
This section is to have a discussion and takes about 4 to 5 minutes. A task card will be given to test-takers to have a discussion with the examiner. The topic discussed would be related to the previous sections.
10 Speaking test tips
1 – Don’t hesitate in asking the examiner questions if you don’t understand something.
2 – Form full-length sentences while speaking.
3 – Learn what types of questions to expect. Generally, the questions will be of a similar format. (This is what experts at Tutopiya will help you do!)
4 – Practice!! Practice with the sample prompts.
5 – Make sure the sentences you are speaking are grammatically sound.
6 – Fluency is important too. Don’t stop in between.
7 – It is completely okay to correct any mistakes that you may end up making. It is human tendency to make errors, and if you made one, don’t hesitate to correct it!
8 – Don’t use advanced grammatical structures and vocabulary that you are not familiar with otherwise.
9 – Relax and be confident.
10 – Don’t worry a lot about the kinds of opinions you will be expressing.
In a nutshell, Tutopiya offers IELTS test prep for students and test-takers taking the exam for entry requirements. Contact us to arrange an IELTS prep with our experienced and well-trained tutor. Experience online tutoring with us today!