IELTS (International English Language Testing System), is an international standardised test of English language proficiency. It is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd, and was established in 1989.
There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version:
The Academic Version is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
The General Training Version is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes
It is generally acknowledged that the reading and writing tests for the Academic Version are more difficult than those for the General Training Version, due to the differences in the level of intellectual and academic rigour between the two versions.
IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 2,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organizations. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and Canada.
An IELTS result or Test Report Form (TRF – see below) is valid for two years.
In 2007, IELTS tested over a million candidates in a single 12-month period for the first time ever, making it the world’s most popular English language test for higher education and immigration.
A variety of accents and writing styles presented in text materials in order to minimise linguistic bias.
IELTS tests the ability to listen, read, write and speak in English.
Band scores used for each language sub-skill (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). The Band Scale ranges from 0 (“Did not attempt the test”) to 9 (“Expert User”).
The speaking module – a key component of IELTS. This is conducted in the form of a one-to-one interview with an examiner. The examiner assesses the candidate as he or she is speaking, but the speaking session is also recorded for monitoring as well as re-marking in case of an appeal against the banding given.
IELTS is developed with input from item writers from around the world. Teams are located in the USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other English speaking nations.
IELTS test structure
All candidates must complete four Modules – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking – to obtain a band score, which is shown on an the IELTS Test Report Form (TRF). All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules, while the Reading and Writing Modules differ depending on whether the candidate is taking the Academic or General Training Versions of the Test.
The total test duration is around 2 hours and 45 minutes for Listening, Reading and Writing modules.
Listening: 40 minutes, 30 minutes for which a recording is played centrally and additional 10 minutes for transferring answers onto the OMR answer sheet.
Reading: 60 minutes
Writing: 60 minutes
Speaking: 11 min to 14 min
(N.B.: No additional time is given for transfer of answers in Reading and Writing modules)
The first three modules – Listening, Reading and Writing (always in that order) – are completed in one day, and in fact are taken with no break in between. The Speaking Module may be taken, at the discretion of the test centre, in the period seven days before or after the other Modules.
The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user.
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