International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language exam that is required to be taken by international candidates considering studying or working in a country where English is the main language of communication. Most popular countries where IELTS is accepted for university admissions are UK, Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada. The exam mainly measures the ability of test-takers to communicate in the four basic language skills – listening, reading, speaking, and writing.A lot of students get confused about why are the IELTS scores required. The simple answer to this is that foreign universities and visa granting authorities need to be sure that you will not have communication issues while staying in the country. You need to show a good understanding and strong command of the English language and that is why your overall IELTS scores are so important. Another common doubt students have is whether IELTS is a compulsory exam or not. No, IELTS isn’t compulsory in all university admissions. Many universities might even not even require IELTS scores for admission purposes. But remember that if you don’t give IELTS, your chances of getting the student visa might suffer as the visa officers may not be convinced about your English proficiency without IELTS scores. So it is safer to appear for IELTS and aim to score at least 6 bands overall.Often international students are confused between choosing IELTS or TOEFL, as universities abroad ask for either exam scores. It is up to you as a test taker to decide which of the two exams to take, but remember that IELTS is more preferred in UK, Australia, and New Zealand, while TOEFL is popular among applicants to universities in US and Canada. So knowing the required average scores for US universities and average scores for Canadian universities is an important start.You can take IELTS exam with the British Council or IDP up to once a week (four times a month). The British Council and IDP global schedule for test dates are 48 days per year.Types of IELTSIELTS is available in two test formats: Academic or General. Students need to take the Academic IELTS test. Other applicants who need IELTS scores for a work visa or immigration purposes need to take General IELTS test. Here we cover only the Academic IELTS test.IELTS Exam PatternIELTS Syllabus includes four sections – Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. You get marked on these four sections and you get the IELTS total score as well. The total score is the sum of the scores in the four skill areas.The total test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes.Here is the IELTS paper pattern –
Section Duration IELTS Academic
Listening 30 minutes It encompasses four recorded monologues and conversations
Reading 60 minutes Three long reading passages with tasks.
Texts range from descriptive and factual to discursive, and analytical includes non-verbal material like diagrams, graphs and illustrations texts are authentic (taken from books, journals and newspapers)
Writing 60 minutes A writing task of at least 150 words where the candidate must summarize, describe or explain table, graph, chart or diagram, and another short essay task of at least 250 words
Speaking 11 to 14 minutes Face-to-face interview includes short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic and a structured discussion.
Listening, Reading and Writing sections are tested in one sitting. Speaking section may be on the same day or up to seven days before or after other tests.
IELTS score validity – Validity of IELTS scores is until two years after the date candidate took the exam on.IELTS ResultYou won’t have long to wait for your results as IELTS test results are released online 13 calendar days after you sit for the test. You will receive an email when your scores are available. You can log into your IELTS account on the IELTS Results website to see your scores.IELTS Dates For the IELTS exam, British Council Global Schedule for global exam dates is 48 days per year.You can choose any date according to your convenience and availability. The exam date that you choose should be at least three-four months before your first application deadline. The basic idea is that you need to start preparing for IELTS a couple of months before submitting your application to colleges. IELTS Preparation tips There are two ways to prepare for IELTS: self-studying and attending coaching classes. Which way you will choose depends on your language proficiency and comfort level. If you are already fluent in English, you need not attend coaching classes; you can prepare for the exam on your own. You just need to figure out when to start preparing for IELTS. Also, if money is an important consideration, then self-study is the better option. However, remember that to study on your own, you need good resource books and study material.On the other hand, if you don’t have enough time and you need professional supervision for the exam preparation then coaching classes are a good option. Since regularly attending classes will become part of your routine, your time will be better managed.