IELTS is the abbreviation of International English Language Testing System. The name itself suggests what the test is about. Precisely the IELTS or International English Language Testing System is the world’s most popular test of its’ kind,conducted for testing the candidate’s ‘Proficiency on all forms of the English Language’. Proficiency in Listening (and understanding), Proficiency in Reading, Proficiency in speaking and Proficiency in writing the English Language are tested by the four parts of the IELTS exam. It is so famous and authentic that as well as over 9000 organizations (in the forms of Companies, Professional bodies and Immigration authorities) and institutions (in the forms of schools, Universities, and Educational institutions) worldwide accept the certificates issued by the IELTS and as per record more than 2.25 million candidates appeared in the test last year that is in 2015.
The format of the tests:
The IELTS Examining authority assesses the student’s or candidate’s ability and depth of knowledge in listening, reading, writing and speaking the English language. The ‘Listening Test’, ‘Reading Test’ and ‘Written Test’ are conducted on the same day at a stretch without any break or interval in a time span of 2 hours and 45 minutes, while the ‘Speaking Test’, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests and the time allotted for the test is 11-14 minutes. The IELTS tests have two different formats. 1) IELTS Academic Test and 2) IELTS General Training Test. The Listening test and the Speaking test are the same for both the types of tests, i.e. for the ‘IELTS Academic Test’, and for the ‘IELTS General Training Test’, though the subject matters of the ‘Reading’ and ‘Writing’ test differ from each other.
IELTS Academic Test:
IELTS Academic Tests are usually for students venturing out for higher education to ‘English Speaking Countries’. Students opting for professional registration for studying or training in any English speaking country also need to qualify through the IELTS Academic Tests. This format of the test checks the efficiency and ability to suit and adapt the higher studies or the training in an English-speaking country.
IELTS General Training Test:
The ‘IELTS General Training Test’ is for those candidates who are interested in going to an English speaking country for secondary education, professional training or work. It is also required for migration to some specific countries, namely Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. This format of the test focuses on the basic survival skills under broad social exposures and workplace environments.
As already mentioned the ‘IELTS’ examines and assesses the candidate’s total English skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking through a well contemplated and neatly structured pattern of tests, which are designed to reflect how a candidate would use the English language in the study, work or day-to-day communication in his new life abroad. The IELTS exams are held on Saturdays and Thursdays in more than 140 countries around the world and the ‘IELTS’ is available at more than 1,100 locations worldwide, including over 50 locations in the USA. There are 48 test dates in a calendar year, each year. To find out test dates in his area, a candidate should contact his nearest ‘IELTS’ test center. A list of all the IELTS test locations worldwide is available at the website: www.ielts.org.
The ‘IELTS’ is internationally focused on its’ test’s content. Texts and tasks are sourced from different publications from all over the English-speaking countries of the world. A range of native-speaker accents is used in the Listening test (Accents of British, American, North-American and Australian and some more). Also, all standard varieties of English are accepted in the ‘Written and Spoken Responses of the candidates. The tried and trusted test patterns or structures has been developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment and is supported by an extensive program of research by experts around the world.
Test format – Listening (Time allotted 30 minutes) [Same for both IELTS Academic Test and General Training Test]
The candidate will have to listen to four recorded audios of ‘Native English Speakers’ and then write the answers to a series of questions on the answer sheet.
- Recording 1 – A conversation between two persons. (Usually set in on an everyday social context.)
- Recording 2 – A monolog (Usually set in on an everyday social context. For example a speech on a local problem or so.
- Recording 3 – A conversation between up to four persons. This conversation is set in a training or an educational context. For example a professor of a university and a student discussing on an assignment.
- Recording 4 – Also a monolog. This is set in on an academic topic, say a university lecture or so.
These levels of the tests of the ‘IELTS’ are designed to assess the skill of the candidate on a wide range the English language. There is no pass or fail in IELTS exams, scores are reported as band scores on a scale from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).
Test format – Speaking (Time allotted 11to14 minutes) [Same for both IELTS Academic Test and General Training Test]
The speaking test assesses the candidate’s ultimate proficiency in spoken English, it has got three parts, each part of the test is recorded for further analysis.
- Part 1 – The examiner introduces himself and asks the candidate to introduce himself. Next to this, the examiner asks some general questions about a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies, hobbies etc. This part of the test lasts for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Part 2 – The examiner gives a card which instructs the candidate to discuss a particular topic. The candidate gets 1 minute to prepare himself before starting the discussion, the time allotted for discussion is 2 minutes. The examiner then asks a one or two questions on the discussed topic.
- Part 3 – The examiner asks some more questions about the topic discussed in Part 2. This part gives the candidate more opportunity to discuss a given topic in depth and in a wider range rich English within four to five minutes and the examiner assesses the candidate’s range of speaking ability and efficiency to construct, describe, compare different topics or issues.
The speaking test, as a whole, measures the candidate’s fluency and coherence with or without noticeable hesitation, range and adequacy of vocabulary, logical sequencing of sentences, with wide and flawless grammatical range. The length and complexity with the clarity of meaning of the spoken sentences and also the accuracy of pronunciations are also tested through the ‘Speaking Test’.
Test format – Reading (Time allotted is 60 minutes) [Different for Academic and General Training Tests]
In the ‘IELTS Reading Test’ there are 40 questions carrying 1 marks each, it is designed in a manner to test the range of reading skills of the candidate. The test includes reading for main ideas, detail, skimming and understanding a logical argument. An idea of the candidate’s capability of recognizing the writers’ opinions, purpose, and attitudes is also tested through this.
IELTS Academic Test – This test includes three long texts which need an in-depth description and factual analysis. The contexts are taken from newspapers, journals, magazines and books.
IELTS General Training Test – This test includes extracts from newspapers, magazines, books, advertisements, company handbooks and so on. These are some real life materials a candidate is likely to encounter or deal with on a day to day life in an English-speaking country.
The assessors look for the ability of the candidate to grasp the idea of the context and the efficiency of his on narrating the detailed factual information. Marks on this test is given by certificated markers. After giving marks at the test center, all answer sheets are sent to the ‘Cambridge English Language Assessment’ for further analysis. One mark is given for each correct answer in this 40-item test. The candidates should be extremely careful about spelling mistakes and grammatical mistakes when writing answers on the answer sheet.
Test format – Writing (Time allotted 60 minutes) [Different for Academic and General Training Tests]
IELTS Academic Writing Test:
The topics of the test are suitable for candidates opting for undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. In the case of this test, the candidate needs to complete the ‘Task1’ & ‘Task 2’ within the stipulated time period of 60 minutes. For ‘Task1’ he needs to write in at least 150 words.
Task 1 – The candidate gets a graph/chart /table or diagram and is asked to describe, summarize or explain the information in his own words. He is to write a well described and neatly composed report in at least 150 words or more. The suggested time period is 20 minutes. This test assesses the efficiency of the candidate to pick and chose the extract of the given topic and the ability to compare and describe the set of given data with accuracy. The candidate has to be very careful about the time as well as the ‘Task2’ takes a longer time to complete.
Task 2 – In ‘Task 2’ the candidate gets a particular topic, generally simple topics understandable by undergraduate students as well and he has to describe it in very well composed rich English using a wider range of sentence structures in 250 words in 40 minutes.
IELTS General Training Writing Test:
The topics are of general interests and there are two types, namely ‘Task1’ and ‘Task2’.
Task 1 – In the test ‘Task1’ the candidate is asked to write a letter in response to a problem, requesting information or explaining a situation in well composed flawless English in at least 150 words, preferably in 20 minutes, keeping 40 minutes time in hand for the longer test ‘Task2’. This test checks the candidate’s capability of handling a personal correspondence, the expertise in expressing opinion or view, the way of narrating a general factual information.
Task 2 – In ‘Task2’ the candidate gets a particular topic to write an essay in response to a problem, an argument or a specific point of view. Generally, the candidate gets simple topics which are understandable by undergraduate students as well, but he needs to describe it in well composed rich and more complex English (than in ‘Task1’) within 250 words in 40 minutes.
Through the ‘Written Answer’ of the candidate, his proficiency in English is judged thoroughly. Also, his efficiency in written English, his rationalism and depth of knowledge are assessed in an intriguing manner. A candidate is thoroughly measured in ‘Task2’ naturally the assessment of ‘Task2’ is of immense value. Highly reputed and qualified IELTS examiners, approved by ‘Top Academic Institutions’, script the papers of the IELTS exams. Interested and aspiring candidates may search the Internet for more information, but the total discussion is made with a view to giving sufficient basic information on both the ‘IELTS Academic Test’ and the ‘IELTS General Training Test’.