Planning to study in an English-speaking country? Then you might already know about the application requirements to colleges, including the IELTS test scores. So, what is the IELTS full form and why do you have to take it? Through the course of this article, we’ll help you understand what IELTS is, what it stands for, the structure of the exam, and more.

IELTS: What is its Full Form?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests. It is used to evaluate the English proficiency of non-native English language speakers who wish to pursue their higher studies in an English-speaking country. 

The British Council, IDP Education Limited, and Cambridge Assessment English administer the test. The IELTS scores are accepted by academic institutions in English-speaking countries such as the United States, UK, Canada, New Zealand, etc. The immigration authorities of these countries also consider the test for issuing immigrant visas. 

Your IELTS scores ensure that you have a command over the English language, which is necessary to succeed academically and professionally in the countries where English is the native language. 

IELTS Examination Structure

There are two IELTS tests – The Academic test and the General Training test.

  • The Academic test is intended for the students going to English-speaking countries for higher studies.
  • The General Training test is for people going to English-speaking countries for non-academic and immigration purposes.

The test includes four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The listening and speaking tests are similar in both the academic and the general training tests. However, the reading and the writing parts differ depending on the type of test.

The listening, reading, and writing tests are completed in one day. However, you can take the speaking test up to 7 days before or after the other tests.

  • Listening: The 30-minute listening section consists of four recordings followed by a series of questions based on these voice notes. The first and the third recordings contain conversations whereas the second and the fourth contain monologues. You are required to write the answers to the questions as you listen to these recordings on a rough sheet, post which you’ll be getting an extra 10 minutes to transfer answers to the answer sheet. 
  • Reading (Academic): The Reading section of the academic test consists of 40 questions that aim at testing different aspects of your reading skills such as skimming, understanding logical arguments, and more. The academic reading section presents three reading passages that are taken from newspapers, books, magazines, and journals. A variety of questions will be asked based on these passages, and you are expected to answer these questions accordingly. There are 40 questions and you get 60 minutes to answer these questions.
  • Writing (Academic): The section comprises two tasks — the first task requires you to describe or summarize a graph, table, chart, or map, while the second task requires you to write your opinion with regard to a given argument or situation. For the first task, you have to write your answer in 150 words within 20 minutes, and for the second task, you are supposed to write your response in about 250 words in 40 minutes. The total time allotted for this section is 60 minutes.
  • Reading (General Training): This 60-minute section of General Training IELTS consists of 60 questions spread over three sections. Section one consists of short texts, while the second and third sections comprise two texts and a long text respectively. There are 40 questions in total, and 60 minutes are allotted to complete the section.
  • Writing (General Training): This 60-minute task consists of two writing tasks. In the first task, you’ll be asked to write a letter (formal, semi-formal, or personal), and in the second task, you are expected to write an essay based on an argument or a problem. 
  • Speaking: This segment is similar to an interview between a candidate and an interviewer. The section comprises three parts and each part intends to measure your spoken English skills. In the first task, the examiner will ask you general questions related to home, interests, studies, and so on. In the second task, a card with any topic written on it will be given to you. You’ll get one minute to prepare a short explanation about the topic and then two minutes to speak about the same. In the third task, the examiners may ask you more questions related to the second task.

The test is scored on a 9-band scale, where 9 is the highest and 1 is the lowest score. The IELTS scores are valid for two years from the date of the test. 

IELTS Computer vs IELTS Paper Test

The IELTS for the  academic test might start online from early 2022. Though the format is the same for both IELTS online test and paper test, the time taken to receive the result varies. According to the British Council, it’ll take only around 3-5 days for receiving the computer-based IELTS test whereas it takes almost 14 days for the offline mode. Moreover, the computer-based test offers you the flexibility to choose the test dates as well.

IELTS Examination Fee

The IELTS examination fee in India stands at Rs. 14,700. If you cancel your test five weeks before your IELTS test date, you’ll get 75% of the administrative fee as a refund. If you plan to cancel your IELTS exam less than five weeks before the test date, or in case you fail to appear for the test, you will receive no refund.

Registration

IELTS registration is a really simple process. You can register for IELTS through the British Council’s official site. It involves only three steps: First, you need to check the available test dates, then create your account on the official website of IELTS and finally, confirm your date booking by paying the fees.

You can also download the application form from the site, fill it and submit it to the local test center. In both cases, do not forget to submit valid ID proof. 

IELTS Preparation

IELTS preparation is not an easy task. However, you can make it through the test on the first attempt with proper practice. The best source for the preparation is the official portal itself. Given below are some tips that’ll help you prepare for the exam.

  • Research: Before taking the examination, visit the official portal of IELTS to familiarize yourself with the examination pattern. It is very important to be thorough with the pattern, as this will help you understand which section asks what type of questions. 
  • Sample Test Questions: The official portal of IELTS is one of the most reliable sources for sample test questions. These sample test questions are from the test-makers themselves, and hence you will have access to updated formats.
  • IELTS Progress Check: Once you solve the sample test questions, you can attempt the official online practice test, i.e., IELTS Progress Check, and get the answers verified by IELTS professionals.

Other than the official portal of IELTS, the official portal of the British Council also offers online courses for IELTS preparation. 

Studying abroad is a dream of many. However, this can only be possible if you meet all the requirements, and the IELTS exam is one such important requirement for the same. Though cracking the test might seem difficult, you can successfully do so through proper practice and preparation. Hence, consider this article as a reference guide to the IELTS exam, and start the preparations.

Good luck!

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