The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the main test used to assess the language proficiency of students from a non-English-speaking background who want to study in an English-speaking country, especially Australia or the UK. It has four subtests, or sections, Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
Advantages of the IELTS Test
What are the advantages of the IELTS test over the other tests which are often used? Unlike the TOEFL it tests all four skills. Some students who have very high TOEFL scores are not able to function in English when they arrive at university because they cannot speak 01 write the language. This means that if you achieve your target band score on the IELTS test both you and the college you hope to attend can be confident that you will be able to cope With English when you start your course. Unlike some other tests IELTS is an international test. This means that if you change your mind about the country you want to study in,your test results will still be recognized (outside the USA) if you have taken the IELTS test. It also means that you can take the test in your own country or in the country where you hope to study.
The IELTS test is available at least once a month, at some centre it is run fortnightly and, at busy times of the year, every week. You can take the test as often as you like, but not less than three months apart. So for example, if you take the test in January you can take it again in April. This way you are able to keep track of your improvement in English.
The results are published quickly. They are sent to you and to the college you want to enter within two weeks. It is considered that students need anything from 100 hours to 200 hours of teaching to improve by one step in the band scale; all students differ from each other but most need more time at the higher levels than they do at the lower levels.
Preparation for the IELTS Test
When you decide that you would like to do further study in an English speaking country, the university or college that you apply will require the minimum score which is needed in order to enroll the course that you have chosen. This score will probably be between 5.5 until 7.0. Some universities also require a minimum band score on a particular sub test, such as Writing or Speaking. The Listening and Speaking sub tests focus on general English so the Reading and Writing sub tests are more closely related in content to academic styles of English.
Lets say you are a student who is planning to sit for the IELTS test. Naturally, you want to get the best score which possible to achieve by you. What is the most effective preparation for the IELTS test?
First of all, you must be realistic. How good is your English now? A student who currently has a band score of 5 will need about 6 months full-time study to raise it to 6,5, Preparation for the IELTS test — improvement in your level of English — will take time and work. Below are some suggestions for useful activities.
One of the biggest problems that students have in the test is that they run out of time. The first thing that you need to practice is speed, especially in the reading and writing sections. Whenever you read something in English, give yourself a time limit. While you are reading, stop at the end of every paragraph and summarize it to yourself. By forcing yourself to read with time limits you will find your reading speed increases, and reading under exam conditions will get easier.
In the same way, practice writing quickly. Every day, sit down and write as much as you can for 5-10 minutes on any subject. Don’t worry about accuracy when doing this — the idea here is to increase your speed, not your accuracy.
Listening Sub test
You will hear each listening passage only once so read the questions through quickly before each section and try to predict what subject the listening text is about. This will increase your ability to understand what you hear. Look at what kinds of questions you must answer: true/false/not given, yes/no/not given, multiple choice, pictures/diagrams, forms to be filled in. This will fetter what kind of listening that you do, whether you listen for individual words or for the general meaning. Then look through any pictures and diagrams in the exam before each listening as these will help you choose the correct answers.
Reading Sub test
Begin by reading the questions first. This will give you an idea of what to look for when you read the texts.
Do not attempt to understand every word in the reading passages, at least on the initial reading. Read quickly to get a general understanding. When answering a question, skim the passage until you find the relevant section, then read it in detail. Do not read everything in detail —you haven’t got time. If you find a question difficult, leave it and come back to it later. Do all the easiest questions first.
Read the task questions carefully. Rephrase them to yourself if you are not sure you fully understand them. Constantly refer back to the question to check that you are not digressing from the topic. Briefly plan your answer, especially for Task 2 in the academic modules. The two writing tasks are of different lengths. You should thus spend about 15 minutes on Question 1 and 30 minutes on Question 2. The two writing tasks are of different types: Question 1 may be a description of a diagram or a letter etc, Question 2 may be an essay or a report etc. Modify your writing style according to the question. Do not write your answers in note form, unless the instructions specifically permit you to do so. While notes show the examiner the structure of your text, you will lose marks in the area of cohesion and sentence structure because your ideas are neither elaborated nor joined. Write as neatly as possible. This makes it easier for the examiner to mark your work, and there is less likelihood of the examiner misunderstanding what you have said. Then write neatly, but do not waste time by writing a rough draft, then rewriting it. Write one draft only and write on every second line. In this way you will have enough space to change/correct your answer if you need to. Don’t waste valuable time by using white-out (just cross out anything you want to change), writing the essay title, or writing in capital letters (use cursive writing if it’s at all readable). If you have spare time at the end, check your work for small errors agreements, plurals, punctuation. These things are easily corrected and are important in deciding what mark your work will receive.
Speaking Sub test
Breathe deeply and relax while waiting. Talk to your friends in English while waiting then speak as much as you can during the interview but still in about the topic and don’t just give one word answers. Unless you speak, the interviewer can’t find out how good you really are. Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner to repeat a question if you don’t understand it. You will not lose marks. At the beginning of section 2 (the role play) the interviewer will give you a card with some information on it. Note carefully the role the interviewer will take: is (s)he your friend? A classmate? an official? Make sure you vary your speech accordingly (because you don’t speak in the same way to a friend as to an official)
Section 3 of the interview is the one where you must take the initiative. Here it is not impolite to ask questions, it’s essential. Your questions should be as natural as possible. Think: What sort of questions would I ask if this situation were real?
If you have prepared yourself by practicing the skills mentioned earlier in this article, and if you are familiar with the format of the test, and remember the suggestions written here, then you are ready to do your best in the IELTS test.
Here some more materials that you can use to practice your English, preparation for IELTS.