What is accepted world-wide by more than 9,000 organisations as a means of measuring language proficiency — any guesses? Yes, we are talking about the world’s proven English language test — the IELTS! IELTS is jointly owned by IELTS Australia, British Council, and Cambridge English Language Assessment Test. It has over 900 test centres in over 130 countries. The registration fee for the test is INR 9,900 currently.
Just last year, we heard that 2 million students flocked from all around the globe to take this test! It makes you stop and wonder what all the big fuss is about, doesn’t it? Keep reading and we’ll tell you.
Why the IELTS?
Universities and also employers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the USA take the IELTS into consideration. If you want to be flying to any of these destinations for your higher studies anytime soon, it’s time to take the IELTS seriously. Taking the IELTS could really open doors for you all over the world!
Interested to know how to get started with your IELTS prep? Here are a few pointers for you…
Know. It. All.
As the very first step of your IELTS prep, we suggest you learn all about the test itself. Go online and visit their official website and read up.
The test is divided into four modules that will test your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Each module will fetch you a certain band score as per your performance. One interesting must know fact for you — when it comes to the IELTS, there is no pass or fail! Your results will be reported on a 9-band scale and will be valid for a period of two years… How cool is that?
Now, a little bit about the modules you will be taking:
- Listening: This 30 minute-module has four sections and will basically have you listening to an audio recording and have you answer questions from a booklet.
- Reading: This 60 minute-module comprises 40 questions that will test you on a wide range of reading skills include reading for main ideas, skimming, reading for detail, and understanding logical argument. It is divided into two versions: the academic and general training versions.
- Writing: This 60 minute-module has two versions: academic and general training. The academic comprises two tasks, in short — one: describing a chart or a diagram; two: writing an essay in response to a problem or argument. The general training also comprises two tasks - 1) writing a letter in response to a situation; 2) writing an essay in response to a problem or argument (this one may be a bit more personal than the first one).
- Speaking: This module may last from anywhere between 11-14 minutes and assesses your spoken English skills. This will be nothing but a conversation with a certified IETLS examiner.
- The Listening, Reading and Writing modules will come one after the other on your test day. Your Speaking module, however, may be on a different day — mostly either seven days before or after your actual test date.
Time to Go Shopping!
Research online and make sure you buy yourself some top study guides fresh from the market. You will not regret investing your money in these, we promise.
Paint Yourself A Clear Picture!
We recommend you to get your prep on at least three to six months ahead of time, if not earlier. We know that you want to obtain a certain IELTS Band Score that you have in mind, which is great, as long it is an achievable and realistic goal. Bear in mind that this test is an overall test of your proficiency in the language so it requires you to be more than just a book worm (you heard right!). Stay 100% dedicated to your prep and sharpen your language skills in all methods possible.
As you start with the prep, how many hours per day do you plan to spare for all four subtests?
Regular practice is key, but do give yourself a breather; a day off of your hectic prep in a week won’t do you any harm. They don’t say that slow and steady wins the race for no reason! Long intervals are not a good idea though!
As you take practice tests, you will notice your areas of weakness that you may need to put some extra time into. Don’t get carried away and put too much time into your weak areas alone though. Make sure you cover and work on all areas.
How Fast Are You?
Many a times, we hear that candidates are unable to perform as well as they had hoped to, because time ran out fast in the reading test or their tape was so fast in their listening test. If you are unable to finish your test, it is not the end of the world, as you will only be measured on a scale from 0 to 9, where 0 is for those who did not attempt it. Focus on getting yourself to your best pace in the test — be fast, attentive and sharp. This way you will minimize your chances of running out of time.
When you are taking the listening test, keep in mind that the tape is played only once — so it pays to remember what you hear. Pay close attention!
Talk, Walk & Breathe in English!
For acing a test like the IELTS, we strongly recommend you to use English as much as you can in your everyday life. Here are a few simple things you could do that could make a difference:
- Read up journals, articles, and newspapers and be informed of current events and issues, which may very well turn out to be a topic for the speaking or writing module!
- Switch on your TV and tune in to CNN and BBC; British movies — that will help!
- Get yourself used to the various English accents from around the world — the Australian, American, British, New Zealand, and even Canadian.
- Practice thinking and also speaking in English as much as you can with your buddies and your family.
- Write emails and letters to practice your written skills and — who knows — you may make a pen pal or two in the process!
What’s important is your pronunciation, not the accent. If your pronunciation is wrong even with a stylish accent, it will still cost you marks here. Stay away from mispronouncing and that’s all you need.
Heard that the IELTS would be a more difficult exam in comparison with any other? Don’t believe everything you hear — there are quite a lot of myths about the test! The test does not pose any more difficulty than any other exam you would have to take for higher studies abroad. The IELTS has questions that are straightforward to assess your English language skills — so don’t get all worked up. Losing your cool isn’t going to do you any good here — trust us and focus on your prep!
Rest before D Day!
The three tests: Listening, Reading, and Writing Tests are usually held on one morning and with no break — so in other words, you really have to be at your best for quite a considerable amount of time here. This is why we strongly advise you to eat well and get some good sleep before your big day — your mind should be fresh and ready.
You will receive your test results 13 days post your test date. Your test centre will post your Test Report Form to you and some test centres may offer you text alerts and an online results service as well.
Are you disappointed with your results? Well, you can retake the IELTS test if you are looking to do better. There are no limitations on how many times you can retake the test but you must apply within six weeks of the test date. There are no limitations as to how many times a person can retake the IELTS.
To help you further with your test preparation, Hotcourses India provides IELTS training classes in its offices in Delhi and Chennai. In-class training sessions, as well as online classes, are available for students. The classes, which are held six days a week, are conducted by experienced tutors who are qualified English language experts.
Based on the programme and institution where you plan to study, you will need to secure an overall IELTS score ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. Now that you have read this article, we hope that you have a clear plan to crack the IELTS now? If you have anything to add to this, feel free to drop us a comment! In case of any other assistance with your study abroad plans; get in touch with us. We’d be happy to hear from you!