Every year, thousands of Indian students choose to pursue a postgraduate or undergraduate degree in a reputed educational institute outside the country. Quality education followed by better job prospects on foreign shores are reasons why they prefer to make this move. Countries like the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia with their world-class universities, attract international students from all over the globe.

If you wish to apply for a student visa to pursue a degree in any one of these countries, you will need to take an English language proficiency test. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is best suited for this purpose. While applying to universities in countries where English is the first language, you need to send across your IELTS score along with other necessary documents.

London
College and universities in London receive thousands of applications every year from India.| Source: pixabay.com

The reason why the English language proficiency of the candidate is given so much consideration is that the medium of instruction at the Universities in these countries is English. Since in India, the first language is not English, it becomes mandatory for applicants to take the test. Scoring high in the IELTS is a huge plus. It increases the chances of your application getting accepted by the university to which you have applied.

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Preparing for IELTS

IELTS is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. The number of study abroad aspirants is increasing every year. IELTS is the most popular English language assessment test whose scores are accepted by almost all reputed international colleges and universities.

Foreign Universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as professional universities, take into account IELTS scores. This is done to examine whether a person is capable of keeping up with the program’s medium of instruction, that is, English. The test score also serves as an indicator of the student's potential to mingle with peers and the ability to integrate with the new community at large.

There are two types of IELTS: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.  If you are planning to study abroad, you need to take the IELTS Academic test. The latter is more suitable for those seeking career opportunities abroad or planning to immigrate.  So while you are applying to a foreign university or college, take note of the type of IELTS test score the institution is looking for.

The rate of acceptance of IELTS scores in academic institutions around the world is very high. The test scores are accepted in almost all universities in the UK and Australia, most of the universities in Canada, and around 3,400 institutions in the US along with thousands of institutions in other English-speaking countries.

Exam
Knowing the test format in detail is important if you want high scores in IELTS. | Source: pixabay.com

The IELTS test assesses students in four areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The most interesting thing about the test is that it doesn’t have a pass or fail system. You will be marked on a scale from 1 to 9, 9 being an expert user in English. You can book the test online through the official IELTS website at an authorized center in your city.

The Scoring System in IELTS

Once you've decided to take your IELTS, it's important to know the scoring pattern. There are two types of IELTS scores: Sectional Band Scores and Overall Band Scores. The former denotes the scores obtained by the test taker in each of the 4 sections: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  The latter is the average of all the sectional band scores. Test takers are marked from 1 to 9 for both overall and sectional scores.

While applying to universities, you need to find out the IELTS score they need for candidates to be eligible for admission. Usually, they fix the minimum IELTS criteria that applicants need to fulfill in order to apply. Therefore, your ideal IELTS score should be greater than the minimum score that is listed by the institution. This will give you a higher chance of making it to the university. Scoring the bare minimum will only ensure your eligibility to apply for admission.

If your IELTS score turns out to be lower than the minimum criteria set by the college or university, even in a single band by o.5, you will no longer remain eligible to apply. Hence, it is important that you check the minimum IELTS score required by the institution where you wish to take admission and aim to secure an IELTS score equal to or higher than the minimum score. Here's the list of IELTS Band Scores and their corresponding skill levels as per this system's evaluation method:

  • 9 - Expert
  • 8 - Very good
  • 7 - Good
  • 6 - Competent
  • 5 - Modest
  • 4 - Limited
  • 3 - Extremely Limited
  • 2 - Intermittent
  • 1 - Did Not Attempt the Test

Tips for Success in IELTS

Before you book a date to take your exam at an authorized testing center near your home, you need to assess your preparation. One of the best ways to do so is by taking the official IELTS practice tests available on the IELTS official website. IELTS Progress Check through which students can take the online test is a paid service to help them assess their level of preparation. But before you take that, you need to acquaint yourself with other aspects of the exam, the format for instance.

time management
Practicing daily and solving sample papers will help to improve time management. | Source: unsplash.com

For both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Test, the tasks for the Reading, Writing, and Listening sections are held back to back on the same day. The Speaking section can be completed on any date during the week leading to the other tests or the one right after it. The entire duration of the exam is 2 hours and 45 minutes. Each section has various task types which you need to know in detail.

  • Start preparing early so that you have enough time in hand for revision
  • Solve sample papers to become familiar with the question pattern
  • Take mock tests at home to improve time management
  • Use the official IELTS practice materials for preparation
  • Practice daily to ace the exam

Once you are done with your preparation, you can book a test date online. The IELTS exam schedule is available on the official website. IELTS can be taken on Computer. Or, you can also choose to sit for a handwritten test. Regardless of your choice, you need to visit an IELTS testing center to take the exam. The fee for the test is Rs. 14,700.

When you book your test date, you will get the option to choose between IELTS on Paper or IELTS on Computer. If you take a paper test, the test report form or the result will be available after 13 days from the exam date. If you opt for the computer test, your results will be available within 3 to 5 days.

 Improving IELTS Preparation

While you can prepare for the exam on your own, taking help from an experienced mentor is always a good option. Since it's most likely that the university you have applied to has received thousands of other applications, you must leave no stones unturned to improve your chances of being accepted.

Student
You can take online classes from an experienced teacher to prepare for IELTS. | Source:unsplash.com

The British Council offers IELTS training courses to aspirants at their centers. Experienced teachers train students to help them secure high scores in the exam. If you are not keen to join their preparatory course, you can seek guidance from other mentors. Online portals like Superprof help to connect students with teachers across India who teach a variety of subjects. You can easily find IELTS coaching near me or an experienced guide who will help you to prepare for IELTS. You can take the classes online if you wish to save time spent commuting.

A mentor can help to keep you motivated and stay on track. You will benefit from their expert tips. If you need to take a retest to improve your score, getting in touch with an experienced IELTS coach can surely help. Following their advice will definitely increase your chances of achieving your desired test score.

IELTS score is accepted not only for higher education but also for immigration and work visas. Universities and employers alike trust the scoring system of the exam to determine the English language proficiency of prospective candidates. Over 3 million people take IELTS every year. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test. This means that you can keep working at it till you achieve your goal.

Securing high scores in IELTS can help open up many doors for you. It can definitely increase your chances of getting admission to the university of your dreams. So without further delay, get going with your preparation to ace the IELTS exam.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.