International English Language Testing System(IELTS) is a language assessment test for study abroad aspirants and job seekers in foreign countries where the first language is English. If you happen to fall under any of these two categories, you have to sit for IELTS. Being proficient in the English language is an eligibility criterion for immigration, work, and student visa to countries like Canada, England, Australia, etc. because the primary language of communication there is English.
Hence, knowing the language is essential to quickly integrate with the new community. From regular activities like shopping, banking, and commuting to being able to perform in your workplace or university, you need to successfully communicate. IELTS score is widely accepted around the world by universities and employers alike. A high score on this test can ensure a bright future for you.
There are two distinct types of IELTS: IELTS General Training test is for immigration and work purposes and IELTS Academic test is for studying abroad. IELTS is taken by almost 3.5 million people every year. While it's possible to prepare for this test on your own, aspirants often seek guidance from experienced teachers to perform well in this exam. Going ahead you will learn all about the IELTS test and what you can do to succeed in it.
Difference between IELTS General and Academic
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. There are two types of IELTS tests: General and Academic. Here are the main differences between IELTS General and Academic:
- Purpose: The IELTS General test is intended for those who want to work, migrate, or study at a secondary school level in an English-speaking country. The IELTS Academic test is intended for those who want to study at a tertiary level or seek professional registration in an English-speaking country.
- Reading and Writing: The Reading and Writing sections of the IELTS General test are different from those of the IELTS Academic test. The General test includes topics that are relevant to everyday life, such as work, travel, and social issues. The Academic test includes topics that are relevant to academic and professional settings, such as research, education, and industry.
- Listening: The Listening section of both tests is the same, and consists of four sections with increasing difficulty levels.
- Speaking: The Speaking section of both tests is the same, and consists of a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner.
- Scoring: The scoring for both tests is the same, with a score ranging from 0 to 9 for each section, and an overall band score.
In conclusion, the IELTS General and Academic tests differ in terms of their purpose, Reading and Writing topics, but share the same Listening and Speaking sections, as well as the scoring system. It is important to determine which test is appropriate for your needs before registering for the exam.
When To Give General or Academic IELTS?
Whether to take the IELTS General or Academic test depends on your purpose for taking the test. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide:
- IELTS General: You should take the IELTS General test if you plan to work or immigrate to an English-speaking country, or if you plan to study at a secondary school level in an English-speaking country.
- IELTS Academic: You should take the IELTS Academic test if you plan to study at a tertiary level or seek professional registration in an English-speaking country. This includes those who plan to pursue undergraduate or graduate studies at a university, or those who plan to work in professions such as medicine, nursing, or engineering.
It's important to note that some universities or institutions may require a specific type of IELTS test. Therefore, it's essential to check with the institution where you plan to apply for their specific requirements.
Additionally, it's essential to assess your English language proficiency level before deciding which IELTS test to take. You can take a practice test or an assessment test to determine your level and determine which IELTS test is appropriate for you.
High Scores in IELTS
IELTS is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. The exam will test your English language proficiency in 4 areas: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Your performance in each of these areas will indicate your overall ability to communicate in the English language.
While you may be using the language on a daily basis and may think your competence is sufficient to perform well in IELTS, think again! The IELTS will assess your level of correctness in using the language. Each section has a band score of 1 to 9, 9 being the highest. The Overall Band Score is the average of the sectional band scores.
If you are a student applying to colleges or universities abroad, take care to note the overall and sectional band scores they need aspirants to meet to become eligible for admission. If you fail to meet the minimum criteria, your admission application will not be considered. So, you need to seriously prepare for this exam.
So when you sit for the IELTS Academic test, you need to ensure that you score higher than the minimum score requirements of the universities you will sending applications to. Like you, thousands of test-takers will be sending across their scores. Under such circumstances, the ones with the best band scores are more likely to get admission provided they meet the other criteria as well.
IELTS Band Score Explanation
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) uses a 9-band scoring system to measure the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. Here's an explanation of what each band score means:
- Band score 0: Did not attempt the test
- Band score 1: Non-user: No ability to use the language except for a few isolated words.
- Band score 2: Intermittent user: Basic communication ability, only in familiar situations, with frequent breakdowns.
- Band score 3: Extremely limited user: Convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations, with frequent miscommunication.
- Band score 4: Limited user: Basic competence in the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though likely to make many mistakes.
- Band score 5: Modest user: Partially competent in the language, dealing with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes.
- Band score 6: Competent user: Generally effective in the language, using and understanding complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
- Band score 7: Good user: Has operational command of the language, using and understanding complex language, particularly in unfamiliar situations.
- Band score 8: Very good user: Has fully operational command of the language, with only occasional inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
- Band score 9: Expert user: Has fully operational command of the language, with no inaccuracies.
IELTS Test Format
Before you sit for IELTS you need to know the format of the exam. This will in fact help you to plan your preparation. The IELTS Academic test is different from the IELTS General Training test in certain ways. While the areas of skill evaluation remain the same i.e. reading, writing, speaking, and listening, the nature of the tasks differ. Let's find out in what ways are these two formats differ from each other.
IELTS Speaking Test
This 11 to 14 minutes test is the same for General Training and Academic. The format is face-to-face interaction. During the test, a structured discussion is held on a familiar topic. Through this, your ability to use the language currently during verbal communication will be assessed.
IELTS Reading Test
The two types of tests have two distinct formats when it comes to the Reading section. The General Training Reading test is an hour long and has 3 sections. Each section has varying numbers of short texts which the candidate is supposed to readout. The content may be taken from company handbooks, official documents, books, and newspapers. They may also come from notices or advertisements.
The Academic Test also lasts for an hour, but it contains 3 long texts. These are taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. Your ability to fluently read the texts will be assessed in this section.
IELTS Writing Test
The duration of the IELTS Writing test is similar to the Reading test i.e. 60 minutes. In the General Training test, two written tasks are assigned - a letter of 150 words and a short essay of 250 words. The Academic Writing test is usually more formal. For the first task, test-takers are asked to describe a table, chart, or diagram in 150 words. For the second task, they have to write an essay in 250 words. Through this test, your ability to express an idea in writing will be tested.
IELTS Listening Test
Like the Speaking test, the Listening tests are the same for Academic and General Training. It takes approximately 30 mins. This part of the test has 4 sections, each with 10 questions. The first two deal with everyday social contexts. Sections 3 and 4 deal with educational and training contexts. You need to listen to the audio recording and answer questions based on the content of the audio.
IELTS Exam Preparation
IELTS exams are scheduled 3 to 4 times a month. Book your test date only when you are convinced about your preparation. You can take the IELTS any number of times to improve your score. But the aim should be to clear your band score requirements at the first attempt itself. As with any other exam, the preparation for IELTS also needs to start early. 2 to 3 months should be sufficient, provided your skill level is between good to average.
Take Preparatory Courses
The British Council offers courses to IELTS aspirants to help them perform well in their exams. They have experienced trainers to help you work on your English language skills. You can also take personal classes from IELTS mentors whom you can find on online platforms like Superprof. It might be unnerving to prepare for an exam without any guidance. If you feel the same, you should take the help of a coach without hesitation.
Develop Core Skills
Since you know the areas of assessment in IELTS, work on improving your English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. You should devote time every day to work on these areas. Reading short passages, writing essays, listening to audio clips, and conversing in English- these are the activities you need to focus on. Try to accomplish one or more of these tasks every day. The idea is to get you to use the English language daily.
Use Official Preparatory Resources
The official IELTS website is a repository of preparatory materials. Going through these will help you to familiarise yourself with the format of the test. Be sure to go through these in detail as they are bound to help you in improving your preparation.
Work on Spelling and Grammar
It's important to study smart than study hard. Work on your grammar, vocabulary, and spelling skill. You need to get the basics correct to get a high band score. You may go through a lot of preparatory materials without actually focusing on these aspects.
You need to master time management if you want to answer all the questions in the exam. So, while solving sample papers or taking mock tests, make sure you stick to the allotted time for each section.
Take the IELTS Progress Check
Before you book your final test date, take the IELTS Progress Check Test to evaluate your preparation. It is a paid service that is worth taking. Detailed feedback on your performance will be sent to you. Based on this report you should decide when to take the exam.
Whether you take IELTS Academic or General Training, the preparation needs to be equally thorough. High scores in this exam can give your career a big boost. You can choose to self-study or take professional help to prepare for the exam. The key to success is regular use of the English language in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The more you practice, the better will be your hold over the language. Give yourself 2 to 3 months to prepare. Plan well and make a proper practice routine. Your hard work will definitely reap the right results for you!
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