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IELTS

IELTS tests are held in over 120 countries around theworld and taken by around 1.5 million people each year. The test is recognised by universities, colleges, employers’ organisations and government bodies in many countries. Candidates can choose to take either the Academic or General Training IELTS module depending on whether they wish to study, work or migrate abroad.

The Academic and General Training modules cover the four basic language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. Although the Academic and General Training modules have different Reading and Writing papers, candidates of both modules are tested on the same Listening and Speaking papers. Specifically, the Academic module is designed for candidates who are considering following higher education courses abroad or who are looking for a professional position abroad. The General Training module is for candidates who are considering migrating to an English-speaking country or attending a training course abroad.

IELTS Scores

Candidates are graded using a 9-band scale to give an overall result.

IELTS 9-Band Scale

9 – Expert user

8 – Very good user

7 – Good user

6 – Competent

5 – Modest

4 – Limited

3 – Extremely limited

2 – Intermittent

1 – Non user

0- Did not attempt the test

 Overall Result

Band scores on each paper are added together and averaged out to provide an overall band score. Overall scores are reported in either whole or half bands e.g. 4.5/5/5.5, etc. Different institutions and organisations accept different scores for different purposes.

Academic Reading

Reading text and questions

There are 3 passages in the IELTS Academic Reading Paper and a total of 40 items (questions). Every item is worth one mark.

Timing

Candidates have 60 minutes to complete the IELTS Academic Reading Paper.

Answers

Candidates record their answers on the answer sheets provided. No extra time is given for the transfer of answers onto the answer sheet. Candidates should transfer their answers as they do the test.

Marks

One mark is awarded for each correct answer. The score out of 40 will be translated into the IELTS 9- band scale. Scores will be reported as a whole band or a half band e.g. 5/5.5 / 6, etc. All words that candidates need to write as an answer to a question will be contained in the text. Candidates are advised, therefore, to take care when transferring their answers to the answer sheet as they will lose a mark for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Texts

The texts come from magazines, journals, books and newspapers and may also include diagrams, graphs or illustrations. Texts are of general interest and appropriate for people on courses in higher education. Texts are of different types: narrative, descriptive, discursive, argumentative, etc. but at least one text involves detailed argument.

Task Types

The Academic Reading Paper tests candidates ontheir ability to identify main ideas, supportingideas, writer’s opinions and specific information. Questions may appear before a passage and somemay come after, depending on the task type. A wide variety of task types are used and more than one task type may be used for each text.

There are 11 basic task types. These are:

1 Multiple Choice

2 Identifying Information

3 Identifying Writer’s Views/Claims

4 Matching Information

5 Matching Headings

6 Matching Features

7 Matching Sentence Endings

8 Sentence Completion

9 Summary, Note, Table, Flow-Chart Completion

10 Diagram Label Completion

11 Short-Answer Questions

Academic Writing

Academic Writing questions

The IELTS Academic Writing Paper consists of 2 questions (Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2). Candidates must answer both tasks. There is no choice of tasks in the Academic Writing Paper.

Answers

Candidates write their answers in pen or pencil on answer sheets provided.

Timing

The total length of the IELTS Academic Writing Paper is 60 minutes. Candidates are advised to spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2.They must complete both tasks in the one hour.

Tasks

In Writing Task 1, candidates are given some visual information in the form of one or more related diagrams, charts, graphs or tables. Candidates are asked to describe the information or data. Candidates do not need to speculate about or explain the information, just report on its main features factually in a coherent way. Candidates are asked to write at least 150 words for this task.

In Writing Task 2, candidates are asked to consider an opinion, problem or issue which they mustdiscuss. This task requires candidates to make an effective argument in the form of a short formal essay for a tutor or an examiner in an academic or semi-formal neutral style.This may involve presenting the solution to a problem, presenting and justifyingan opinion, comparing and contrasting evidence or opinions, or evaluating and challenging an argument or idea. Candidates are asked to write at least 250 words for this task.

Marking

In Writing Task 1 candidates are assessed on:

– Task Achievement

– Coherence and Cohesion

– Lexical Resource

– Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In Writing Task 2 candidates are assessed on:

– Task Response

– Coherence and Cohesion

– Lexical Resource

– Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Each of the tasks is marked separately. Writing Task 2 is worth more marks than Writing Task 1 so leaving plenty of time to complete Writing Task 2 is important. Scores for Academic Writing are reported in whole bands or half bands e.g. 4.5/5/ 6.5n, etc. on the IELTS 9-band scale.

IELTS listening

Listening texts and questions

The are four sections in the IELTS Listening. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in order as you listen to the listening text. At the beginning of each section candidates hear a short description of the situation they are going to listen to. This may include information about who the speakers are, where they are and what the general topic is. This description is not written on the question paper, so it is important for candidates to listen carefully.

The sections 1 to 4 gradually become more difficult, with sections 1 and 2 testing the types of listening skills needed for survival in everyday social contexts. The focus in Sections 1 and 2 is on understanding key points of factual information. Sections 3 and 4 focus on situations set in academic or training contexts. The main focus here is being able to identify key points, identify details and follow a line of academic argument.

Answers

During the test, candidates have time to read the questions and write down and check their answers. Answers are written on the question paper as candidates listen. When the recording ends, candidates have 10 minutes to transfer their answers onto an answer sheet. Answers must be spelled correctly. Proper names may be spelled out on the recording. Timing Approximately 30 minutes plus 10 minutes transfer time.

Marks

Each question carries one mark, giving a total of 40 marks. The score out of 40 will be translated into the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole bands or half bands e.g. S.S/6/6.Sn, etc. on the IELTS 9-band scale.

Task types

There are 6 basic task types. Any section may include any of the task types listed below and each section may involve one or more than one task type.

1 Multiple Choice

2 Matching

3 Plan, Map, Diagram Labelling

4 Form, Note, Table, Flow-Chart, Summary

Completion

5 Sentence Completion

6 Short-Answer Questions

Recordings

Each section is heard only ONCE. The recordings include a range of accents, including British,

Australian, New Zealand and North American.

IELTS Speaking

Speaking test format

In the IELTS Speaking test there is one candidate and one examiner. There are three parts to the test which give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate a range of different speaking· skills. Each IELTS Speaking test is recorded.

Timing

Each test lasts between 11 – 14 minutes.

Marking

IELTS Speaking test scores are reported in wholebands or half bands e.g. S/S.5/6/6.Sn, etc. on theIELTS 9-band scale. Candidates are assessed on theirperformance throughout the test using the following criteria:

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

The test is recorded so that it can be re-marked if needed. The examiner will not give the candidate any feedback on their performance.

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