What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It’s a standardized test designed to assess the English language proficiency of individuals who want to study or work in environments where English is the primary language of communication. The test evaluates four language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. It’s widely recognized and accepted by universities, employers, immigration authorities, and professional bodies in English-speaking countries.

IELTS test structure

There are two modules for IELTS:

General trainingAcademic
Accredited for daily use of language and is mostly applicable in cases of immigrationUsually taken by students planning for education abroad or professionals who are exploring work opportunities overseas.

IELTS Academic Test

The IELTS Academic test is one of the two versions of the IELTS exam, the other being the IELTS General Training test. The Academic test is specifically intended for individuals applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. It assesses the English language proficiency needed for academic or professional settings.

The test format includes four sections:

  1. Listening: This section evaluates your ability to understand spoken English in various contexts. It involves listening to recordings and answering questions based on what you hear.
  2. Reading: It assesses your reading comprehension skills through passages from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. You’ll answer questions to demonstrate your understanding of the texts.
  3. Writing: This section requires you to complete two writing tasks. Task 1 usually involves describing, summarizing, or explaining visual information (graphs, charts, diagrams). Task 2 involves writing an essay in response to a given point of view, argument, or problem.
  4. Speaking: The speaking test assesses your ability to communicate effectively in English. It includes a face-to-face interview with an examiner where you’ll discuss various topics, express opinions, and engage in conversation.

The IELTS Academic test aims to determine if your English language skills are suitable for academic study at an undergraduate or postgraduate level or for professional registration purposes.

IELTS Academic test format

Listening* (30 minutes)Four recorded monologues and conversations
Reading (60 mintues)Three long reading passages with tasksTexts may include diagrams, graphs or illustrationsTexts are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers
Writing (60 mintues)Summarise, describe or explain a table, graph, chart or diagramShort eassy task of at least 250 words
Speaking* (11 to 14 mintues)Face-to-Face interview without disruptions or distractionsIncldues short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic and a structured discussion

IELTS General Test

The IELTS General Training test is another version of the IELTS exam, distinct from the Academic test. It is designed for individuals who plan to migrate to an English-speaking country for work, training programs, or secondary education. This test evaluates English language proficiency in everyday contexts, focusing on practical language use in social and workplace environments.

Similar to the Academic test, the General Training test also consists of four sections:

  1. Listening: This section assesses your ability to understand spoken English in everyday situations. You’ll listen to recordings and answer questions based on conversations, speeches, and other spoken materials.
  2. Reading: It includes passages from advertisements, newspapers, instruction manuals, notices, and more. Questions test your ability to comprehend and extract information from these everyday texts.
  3. Writing: Task 1 requires you to write a letter based on a given situation, often related to personal, semi-formal, or formal circumstances. Task 2 involves writing an essay on a general topic.
  4. Speaking: Similar to the Academic test, this section involves a face-to-face interview with an examiner. It assesses your ability to communicate verbally in English by discussing everyday topics, sharing opinions, and engaging in conversation.

The IELTS General Training test is primarily used for immigration purposes and assesses English proficiency in a practical, day-to-day context, rather than academic settings.

IELTS General test format:

SectionDescription
Listening30 minutes
– 4 sections with 40 questions
– Conversations and monologues
Reading60 minutes
– 3 sections with 40 questions
– Texts from newspapers, notices, ads, guides, etc.
Writing60 minutes
– Task 1: Writing a letter (formal, informal, or semi-formal)
– Task 2: Writing an essay on a given topic
Speaking11-14 minutes
– Face-to-face interview with an examiner
– Discussion on familiar topics, opinions, and conversations

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