The IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It measures whether you can speak English at an acceptable level to study or work in a place where it is used as a primary language. Besides being used for academic study, so to gain admission into a university of your choice, it is also used by several organizations to assess whether internationals who will work for them can communicate in English. In addition, it is also used for immigration purposes by countries such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE IELTS?
If you have decided that you need to take the IELTS for any purpose, you will need to prepare for it. The test is designed to provide accurate information to universities, employers, and immigration officers. Thus, you cannot enter it without having done any practice at all. Even those who are native English speakers might run into problems when they take the test for the first time, so they must prepare as well. Here are some tips on preparing for the IELTS.
KNOW WHICH TYPE YOU HAVE TO TAKE
There are two types of the IELTS, which cater to different needs. The Academic IELTS is for those who will complete a higher education degree. So students applying for undergraduate and graduate programs must take the Academic IELTS.
The General Training IELTS is for other purposes such as work or immigration. It contains simpler language which is used in everyday life that anyone living and working there must understand. The two types of tests are quite similar, but they differ in a few sections. Also, many people who will go to work in an English speaking country or immigrate there will choose to take the Academic IELTS since it is more challenging and sends a message that you are making an effort.
Before deciding which one you will take, consult with the organization. Talk to the university admissions officers, your new supervisor, or an immigration officer. They will have a better idea about which type of IELTS you need to take, so that you don’t end up taking the wrong one.
UNDERSTAND THE FORMAT
The IELTS has four sections which test takers must complete in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The testing time for each section is limited, so you will have to manage your time well and complete the questions as fast as possible while being accurate. The four sections of the IELTS are:
The reading section measures whether you can understand written text. This includes understanding the main idea of the text, certain passages, and whether facts provided in the text are true or false. The section is 40 minutes long and you will have a few passages to read. The passages are on different topics.
If you take the Academic IELTS, the reading section will include three passages in a more academic language. The passages are from books and journals, and they are tailored for those who will begin university in an undergraduate or graduate degree.
The General IELTS though, has three passages with simpler language taken from newspapers, magazines, books, and others. The written language is designed to be the type which is encountered in everyday life.
The writing section is 60 minutes long and requires the test taker to write two essays. The essays must be formal and must have good writing.
The first essay asks you to write a description or explanation of the information presented. This information can be a table, a graph, or chart. The essay must be in your own words and is more explanatory.
The second essay presents an argument or a point of view and you will be asked to respond to it. This means you must construct good and structured arguments to solve a specific problem. Topics for both essays vary, but are targeted for students and potential employees.
For the speaking section, you will have an examiner to talk to. The examiner will assess your choice of words, your ability to formulate thoughts and sentences, and the use of language to explain ideas. The speaking section takes 11 to 14 minutes to complete and has 3 parts.
The first part is where the examiner will ask you questions about yourself, your life, family, home, and interests. In the second part, the examiner will give you a card which has a topic. You will have to talk about that topic and answer a few questions. Part three will elaborate on the topic you got in part two. This will test whether you can talk about something for a longer period of time.
You will have to complete the listening, reading, and writing sections on the same day of the test. You will have one short break between the listening and reading sections. You do not necessarily have to complete the speaking section on the same day. You might be asked to complete it later that day, or you can choose to do it one week before or after the main part. This depends on the location you are taking the test and its type.
Understanding the format will make it easier for you to prepare and know what to expect on the day of the test. It will also make it easier for you to practice.
REGISTER FOR THE TEST
Millions of people take the IELTS each year. Only in 2016, 2.9 million people took the test. That is why it’s important to register for it as soon as possible. This will ensure you have a place in the testing center and that you do not have to worry about finding a later date or delaying your application to a university or job.
Before you register for the test, you must find a testing center. IELTS has 1,100 locations around the world in 141 countries, and around 48 test dates in one year. So you have plenty of opportunities to enter the test, even if you do not do as well the first time. To find out where you can take the test, visit the IELTS website.
When you select a testing center, you can then register and take a spot there. You must complete an application form and also pay the fee. The application fee is different from country to country, but in general it can cost around $200.
PRACTICE FOR THE TEST
The most important part about IELTS preparation is practicing. Besides being a test for English knowledge, it is also a test of speed and stamina. You must make sure that your answers are correct and complete them within the given time.
You can go about practicing for the test in various ways. You could take a preparatory course and have an experienced instructor go over the material with you and guide you throughout the test. You could also work on your own. If you decide to practice on your own, it is recommended that you purchase the preparatory materials, which are composed of Part 1 and Part 2. Based on those, you can gain a good grasp of what the test is like and what to study.
An essential part of preparing for the IELTS is taking practice tests. You can find sample questions on the IELTS website as well practice tests on the British Council website. In addition, the internet is full of people who have taken the test and could give you helpful hints to find more online free material.
In addition, you can also study while entertaining yourself. This includes watching movies or reading in English. Activities such as these will strengthen your language skills and enrich your vocabulary. You will be more likely to succeed in the IELTS if you are able to understand the language used in books and movies.
TAKE THE TEST
The final step is to take the test. You should try to be relaxed and not nervous, since that will impact your performance. Arrive at the test center on time. Sleep well the night before and eat before the test. The IELTS is long and you don’t have much break in between sections, so you will need the energy.
When you complete the test, you can opt to send your scores to five organizations. The test results will be sent to you after 13 days and also to the organizations that you chose to send them to. If you want to, for example, send your scores to six universities, you will have to pay an additional fee for the sixth institution. Your scores will be valid for 2 years, so you can use them for different purposes during that time. After 2 years, you must take the test again for the scores to be valid.