We all might have heard the term IELTS at a certain phase like while graduating or when our fellow students are planning to go abroad for masters. But, we don’t have a clear picture of what exactly the IELTS exam is and how it lays a path to moving abroad.
In this article, we’ll try to discuss all your concerns that you might have attributed to the preparation for IELTS. The concerns like the test patterns, band score, and step-by-step action plan required for the preparation for IELTS are all addressed below.
So let’s dig into it without further ado…
What exactly is the IELTS?
IELTS, also known as International English Language Testing System, is a mandatory language proficiency assessment test recognized by Universities or employers for candidates who are planning to immigrate to countries like Australia, the UK, the USA, New Zealand, and Canada English is the language of communication.
Know The Test Format For IELTS
IELTS test is categorized into two modules and each module has four sub-tests. The four sub-tests would be Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
Though the pattern of sub-tests would be the same for all the students taking the test, but the tests would be differentiated based on the module being chosen by the student.
Based on the test results, your ability will be ranked on a band scale of 1-9, where 9 represents you as an expert and 1 represents you as a novice.
For a brief understanding, I’ve mentioned the band scale,
- Band Scale 9 – Expertise in the language
- Band Scale 8 – Excellent command of the language with a few inappropriate mistakes in understanding certain situations
- Band Scale 7 – Good functional command of the language with a few inaccurate mistakes in understanding certain situations
- Band Scale 6 – Proficiency and a fair understanding of the language with a few inaccuracies and misunderstandings in certain situations
- Band Scale 5 – Moderate level of understanding of the language i.e., basic communication knowledge with a few mistakes
- Band Scale 4 – Limited level of knowledge with difficulty in understanding the expressions and the complex language
- Band Scale 3 – Extremely limited knowledge of the language with difficulty in understanding and expressing the language
- Band Scale 2 – Intermittent level i.e., difficulty in reading and understanding the language written or spoken
- Band Scale 1 – Amateur, absolutely zero knowledge of the language apart from the usage of a few terms
The highest you score, the probability of getting succeeded in immigrating to the desired country will be more. However, the IELTS score requirement varies for every immigration body like universities or workplaces.
What Are The Modules of IELTS?
As said earlier, the IELTS test is categorized into 2 modules.
- Academic Training
- General Training
Academic Training is for candidates who want to pursue a higher level of education like graduation or post-graduation in overseas universities which have English as their primary language.
General Training is for candidates who want to pursue below the graduation level of education or want to immigrate for work or training.
The test format of both academic and general training would be similar for speaking and listening tests but, a bit different for reading and writing tests.
Everything About Sub Sections Of The Test
As mentioned above the test is categorized into 4 subsections,
For this test, you’ll be provided 4 recordings which should be played only once, and 10 questions for each recording will be given which carries 1 mark each (Spelling and grammatical mistakes will be penalized).
- 2 Recordings would be dialogues (conversations among 2-4 people)
- 2 recordings would be monologues based on the concepts of education or training.
- Question Type – Multiple choice questions, flow charts, matching, sentence completion, etc.
- Total no. of questions – 40 (for 40 marks)
- Duration – 30 minutes with an extra 10 minutes of transfer time.
This test is more like an interview where you’ll give a brief introduction about yourself then the interview will ask you certain questions related to the topic they have given and you put light on the issues related to the given topic. The same goes here. This test is categorized into 3 phases:
- Phase 1: The examiner asks you to introduce yourself and give a gist on topics such as your family, education, work, etc. In this, they will check your ability to communicate and your fluency.
- Phase 2: In this phase, the examiner will ask you to talk about a certain topic provided by them, for which you’ll be given one minute to prepare yourself and then talk for about 4-5 minutes.
This phase focuses on knowing your ability to communicate at a length on a given topic spontaneously with an appropriate sentence formation and expressing your ideas clearly.
- Phase 3: In this phase, the examiner will ask you a few questions and discuss issues related to the topic you have talked about, in phase 2.
This phase mainly focuses on your ability to understand, express, analyze, and justify your opinion on the topic given.
- Duration: 10-15 minutes
In the reading test, both general and academic tests are sub-classified into 3 parts and for each part, the level of difficulty would be increasing.
- For the academic test, you’ll be given 3 long passages that are collected from journals, magazines, books, or news.
- For the general test, you’ll be given 2 paragraphs with several short texts and 1 long paragraph.
- Question type – Multiple choice, matching, understanding author’s perspective, short-answer question.
- Duration – 60 minutes
- No. of questions – 40 (for 40 marks)
In the writing test, both academic and general tests are sub-classified into 2 parts and each part is designed as per the module criteria.
- For the academic test task-1, you’ll be given a table or graph for which you are expected to write a summary of 150 words in 20 minutes.
- For the general test task-1, you’ll need to write a letter of 150 words in 20 minutes.
- Task-2 is the same for both academy and general tests, all you need to do is write an essay of 250 words in response to the given topic in 40 minutes.
- Total Duration – 60 minutes
All the contents of the test consider everyday perceptible situations for the assessment of proficiency in language communication.
How to prepare for IELTS?
While planning to appear for the IELTS exam, you might have definitely come across a dilemma in choosing the path of preparation i.e., self-learning or opting for a coaching institute. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for the path of learning. It totally depends upon the individual personality.
Let’s consider both options and discuss the pros and cons of it.
Getting trained from the coaching institute:
- If you are someone who tends to procrastinate learning or needs frequent motivation to study then coaching institutes definitely come to the rescue.
- Coaching centers will provide you with mock tests through which you can get performance assessments from experts.
- Due to continuous evaluation and feedback from the trainers, you’ll get to know and work on your weak areas.
- Enrolling in a coaching institute will help you throughout the journey for your IELTS as you would get complete guidance from the experts right from the preparation to getting a good band score and landing at a good university.
- However, enrolling for IELTS coaching costs you a fortune along with the registration of IELTS.
- But, If you are serious about your goal and can work really hard for it then the investment in coaching is worth trying.
- Here is a quick tip, don’t attempt the exam if you are not sure of clearing it, this might save you some amount. Attempt the exam only when you are sure about your skills.
- However, I personally feel learning from coaching centers somehow limits your learning process for people who like to dig into the resources online and learn on their own.
- Every individual has their own learning pattern, it is not like one institute that is liked by many will be a fit for you.
- Self-studying has a few advantages like you can learn from home in your comfort zone and your own personalized learning pattern without spending fat bills on coaching.
- You can find plenty of resources online to learn by yourself but, just learning the test pattern and starting to prepare with the online resources bluntly won’t take you anywhere near your goal.
- Processing the information as per your requirement is definitely a task to be done.
- There has to be a step-by-step plan of action to ace IELTS.
Plan of action for the preparation of IELTS
Preparing for IELTS might turn out to be disheartening and over-powering sometimes, but having a clear plan of action would help you get started smoothly.
Understand The Pattern & Strategies Of IELTS
- First, you need to understand everything about IELTS like the format of the test, and factors that play a major role in band ranking.
- It is highly recommended to learn about the strategies of IELTS to get succeeded in it.
- Usually coaching institutes make sure to make you aware of the strategies of IELTS but, if you are planning to prepare on your own then you should start doing a lot of research on the strategies.
Know Your Sore Point
- It is vital to learn about your sore spot during the preparation and concentrate more on improving it.
- We often come across a situation where we get disheartened and start neglecting our weak areas which would result in a score drop.
Give Equal Priority
- Give equal priority to all the sections of the test, this has been a tried and tested method for people who achieved a good band score.
- Sometimes people plan to score on the areas which are their forte and neglect their weak areas which results in a score drop, this thought process should definitely be avoided to get succeeded in IELTS.
Improve Listening Skills
- Many of us might feel that the listening test is the toughest among the remaining 3 tests.
- We always tend to miss some details while answering questions in the listening tests and we can’t replay the audio and this is what has made many lose their ranking.
- Make a habit of listening to recordings while doing any work, this will improve your listening and multi-tasking skills, and you’ll be able to grasp every minute detail during the test.
Improve English Potentiality
- Getting a good score in IELTS needs a lot of potentiality in English. So, improve your skills in English.
- Try using more appealing and appropriate terms while writing and speaking in the test.
- We have fluency in the language in which our mind thinks.
- So to gain a strong command of English it is necessary to train our subconscious minds to think everything in English and this practice will improve our ability in English without the need of worrying about grammatical errors.
- Training the subconscious mind might sound hard but this would be of great help in your learning process.
- Simple term but carries a huge weight in the process of learning.
- We all have heard the term “Practice makes perfect”, but only practicing won’t help you.
- You need to assess and improve your performance consistently.
- Try practicing a lot of tests while preparing.
Resources that are helpful
- We can find many authorized websites and coaching institutes for IELTS online that are of great help.
- But here I would like to discuss a platform that provides both free and paid resources from industrial experts.
- Some of you might have guessed it by now, yeah… it’s Udemy!!!
Udemy is a legitimate online learning platform that offers courses in almost all fields including streams where we don’t get training offline.
Courses offered by Udemy are in free and paid formats and the best part of it is these courses are much more affordable compared to other coaching institutes and you don’t need to compromise on the quality of content.
We have tried addressing all the concerns you would come across while preparing for the test. This article is mainly focused on the preparation pattern that would help aspirants who are either self-learners or getting trained by the coaching centers. It is definitely your call to whether seek help from the coaching institute or learn yourself but it is suggested to personalize a plan of action for yourself before you start preparing.
Hope this article was helpful to you. Thank you for giving your time.