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How To Prepare For an IELTS examination In 2021

by | Sep 1, 2021 | 0 comments

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If you must be considered as an immigrant or international student in an English-speaking country, Hence you will need to pass the IELTS test. All you need now is good guidance on how to prepare for IELTS effectively in 2020. Hence, this article.

Following this guide will help you save time, money, and energy, also, ensuring that you get the score you need, while you prepare for your IELTS test.

The IELTS test which is taken every year has over 5 million candidates in more than 140 countries in the world, with each candidate being assessed based on the 9-band scale of the IELTS TEST. In fact, more than 10,000 organizations recognize IELTS in over 140 countries as a true indicator of your English-language skills. 

This guide includes all areas of IELTS such as listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Also, you will learn everything you will need to consider when preparing for your IELTS test.

Getting these tips on how to prepare for the IELTS test could be a step to you getting that study abroad opportunity. Therefore, we have broken down each part of the test into important elements, to effectively help you prepare for the IELTS test.

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to help you work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. This includes countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA.

Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test. IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9.  

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

Why take IELTS?

If you are looking to work, live or study in an English-speaking country, then you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language ability.

English is the third most spoken language in the world, with 379 million speakers worldwide.

Being able to communicate in the native language of the country you wish to work or study in, has a wide range of benefits. It is also essential for job opportunities as well as integration into the community.

IELTS is the most popular test for those looking to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is globally recognised by more than 11,000 employers, universities, schools and immigration bodies including 3,400 institutions in the USA.  

IELTS score scale

Band scoreSkill levelDescription 
9Expert userThe test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
  
8Very good userThe test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
  
7Good userThe test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
  
6Competent userThe test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
  
5Modest userThe test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
  
4Limited userThe test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
  
3Extremely limited userThe test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
  
2Intermittent userThe test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
  
1Non-userThe test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
  
0Did not attempt the testThe test taker did not answer the questions.
  

What IELTS score do I need?

The higher you can score in your IELTS, reflects a better understanding and ability to communicate in English. Each immigration body, university, workplace or institution will have specific IELTS score requirements. The score you need will depend on what you are looking to do in the country, i.e work or study. 

Entry requirements for organisations which accept IELTS

How IELTS is developed

IELTS is developed to provide a fair and accurate assessment of English language proficiency.

Test questions are developed by language specialists from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The test covers four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. 

IELTS test content reflects everyday situations. It is unbiased and fair to all test takers from all backgrounds.

Types of IELTS test

It is important for you to know that there are two types of IELTS: Academic and General Training.

Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

Therefore, before you register for your IELTS test, it is necessary for you to be aware of which one of these tests you will take.

When deciding on which IELTS test to take, some specific questions can help your decision making to be more effective.

You need to know your long-term or short-term goals and aspirations related to your education, your personal situation(if you want to migrate to an English speaking country), and your work-related plans.

If your goal is to study for higher education or work in a professional field like engineering, medicine, and so on, then, you should take the IELTS academic test.

However, if your goal is to work, live, train, or study in an English speaking country, then, you should totally consider taking the IELTS general test.

What Is IELTS Test Pattern?

The total duration of IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes. So, even as you take the test, you have to be time conscious, and learn how to manage your time well.

For every IELTS test candidate, the test is conducted in four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

IELTS examiners expect the candidate to complete the Reading, Writing, and

Listening sections on the same day.

The candidates are not provided with any breaks in between the sections. However, candidates can complete the speaking section a week before or after the tests.

In other to choose their dates for the speaking test, candidates will have to consult their test centers. The exam pattern varies a little for Academic and

General modules. 

Nonetheless, the best strategy to achieve high scores on the IELTS is nothing but adequate preparation for the IELTS test. It is popularly said that he who fails to plan, plans to fail. 

Also, it is important to note that candidates can also reattempt the exam whenever they want.

There is no limit to giving the IELTS test, candidates can take the IELTS exam as many times as they want, till they reach their dream score. However, every time the candidate has to pay the exam fee required.

IELTS Speaking Test

The IELTS Speaking is the same for both General and Academic test. All speaking tests are conducted face-to-face with a certified IELTS examiner and are recorded in case they need to be reviewed.

The Speaking test takes between 11 and 14 minutes and consists of 3 parts.

Part 1: This is part of the test where the examiner will ask you some general questions about familiar topics like work, family, studies, and hobbies.

Part 2: This is the part where you will be given a card with a topic and also, a pencil and paper to prepare your response. You will then speak on the topic for two minutes. This is to assess your use of spoken English.

Part 3: In this part, you will have a discussion with the examiner where you will be asked questions related to the topic discussed in Part 2.

IELTS listening test

The Listening section assesses your ability to understand the main ideas, detailed information, opinions, purpose, and attitudes of the speakers, as well as your ability to follow the development of ideas.

You will need to answer questions connected to the recordings ranging from multiple choice to matching information, headings, features, and sentence endings, as well as sentence, summary, note, table, diagram, or flowchart completion.

Nonetheless, take notes during the recordings and be aware that when answering the questions, spelling, and grammar do matter.
You will listen to 4 recordings in your Listening test and need to answer 40 questions based on these recordings. It is the same for both the IELTS Academic and General tests. 

The first two recordings deal with situations you might experience in an everyday context. The last two recordings, however, focus on situations that might occur in an education or training context.

IELTS reading test

The reading part of the IELTS test looks at how well you can understand main ideas, details, inferences and implied meaning. It also assesses your ability to follow the development of an argument, recognise a writer’s opinion, attitudes and purpose.

The reading test, unlike the listening and speaking test, is not the same for both the IELTS Academic and General tests.

The General IELTS test consists of three sections and 40 questions. It focuses on situations you might face in everyday life, work-related issues such as applying for a job, and topics of general interest.

Firstly, section 1 looks at your social survival skills. 

Secondly, the next section takes a closer look at your workplace survival skills.

Finally, section 3 contains a long and more complex text on a topic of general interest.  

On the other hand, the Academic reading test is made up of 3 long texts which are taken from current books, journals, magazines and newspapers. Also, you will have to answer 40 questions in the Academic Reading test.

The texts are related to topics you might face if you were to study at an undergraduate or postgraduate level or apply for professional registration in an English-speaking environment.

The IELTS Writing test

The writing portion of the exam lasts sixty minutes and is divided into two tasks, the first requiring a 150 words written response and the second requiring a 250 word written response. Also, just like the reading IELTS test, the writing test is also not the same for both the IELTS Academic and general test.

Meanwhile, the topics in each task are of general interest. Hence, it is made up of two tasks, Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2.

In Writing Task 1, you will be given a situation where you will need to write a letter to request information or explain the situation. However, Writing Task 2 is a little different. Here, you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem.

In the end, you will be assessed on whether you can provide general factual information, outline a problem, present a solution, justify an opinion or evaluate ideas, evidence, or an argument.

In Academic Writing Task 1, you will be shown a visual representation of information; a graph, table, chart, or diagram, and you are asked to summarize, describe or explain the information you see. Make sure you organize your response into three main parts, the introduction, an overview, and the main features supported by figures from the diagram.

In Academic Writing Task 2, you will be presented with a point of view, argument, or problem. The topics can range from the environment to immigration, culture, and even technology. 

How much does IELTS cost?

 IELTS fees are always the same for the Academic and General Training tests. However, prices vary depending on which country or even which city you’ll be taking the test in, and it’s never cheap!

Why is IELTS preparation so difficult?

When talking about why the preparation of IELTS test is difficult, it is important for us to understand that each student has a personal perception of difficulty based on the individual’s background, learning style, personality, practice history, etc.

The questions are straightforward and designed to assess how well you can use your English, not to trick you or test your opinions. As with any exam, IELTS requires thorough preparation.

The preparation for the IELTS test will not only help you to improve your English language skills but, will also boost your confidence to study abroad without any linguistic obstacle.

Which part of the IELTS test is more difficult?

Reading is said to be the most difficult part of the IELTS test because there are 40 questions that you have to complete within 60 minutes. That means you have 1 and a half minutes for 1 question.

In that much time, you have to read the whole question, understand it, find the answer, and write in the OMR sheet. 

However, I believe that people think that way because they skim through, instead of reading. It is important to note that when you read, you learn new things. Your knowledge doubles.

As an IELTS candidate, when you do not read or prepare well for the IELTS test, the fear of failure creeps in. Thus, I would strongly advise that you read, and avoid skimming through important details.

Other than reading, research has shown that some IELTS candidates find writing to be more difficult than reading, listening, and speaking.

According to these candidates, one of the reasons why writing is so difficult is that it is hard to know how good you are in IELTS writing. For example, with reading, you can visit a lot of sites that have comprehension passages and you can know accurately where you stand.

However, in writing, unless an expert evaluates your essay, you won’t know how good your essay is.

Well, if you are someone who finds it difficult to pay attention to details, then, the listening part of the IELTS test would be a bit difficult for you. This is because the speaker will only speak only once, and once you miss out on a question, it is gone forever except you want to make guesses. 

Interestingly, none of the modules of the IELTS test is difficult, unless you make it difficult.

The point is, you just need to follow the appropriate strategies to attempt the exam. It is important that when you prepare for the IELTS test, you do yourself the favor to understand the IELTS test.

Good preparation for the test will enhance your English proficiency, as well as score well.

Getting a high band score in the Reading part requires a proper understanding of questions which is made easy when you have a good sense of vocabulary.

Importantly, understanding accent and multitasking is required in the Listening Module.

Writing can be aced by well-structured written ideas, lexical resources, unflawed grammar, and adequate linking of the ideas.

Getting a high score in Speaking is also not tough if you take care of pronunciation, grammar, vocab along with intact fluency.

Lastly, Practice. Indeed, Practice play an imperative role in achieving the target.

Generally, I recommend that as you prepare for the IELTS test, you should complete as many practice tests as you can before the examination. By doing that, you will be able to know the areas difficult for you, and your need to improve in order to get your desired score.

What Are The Requirements For IELTS?

It is very necessary to know the eligibility requirements for IELTS. So. just as you are preparing for the test, take note of these important IELTS requirements below:

  • Regardless of gender, age, race, religion, or nationality, IELTS is made available worldwide to all persons. However, for taking the IELTS Exam, your minimum age should be at least 16 years, and you must have a valid passport.
  • The respective institutions may have a different eligibility requirement, but the IELTS has no specific selection criteria.
  • If you have UK or US citizenship, it does not matter how old the study completed in these countries, you will be considered proficient in English and will not be required to provide IELTS.
    This also includes those who hold Irish or Canadian citizenship with a study completed in these countries.

Do I take IELTS if I have an O level certificate?

The General Certificate of Education (GCEOrdinary Level, also called the Olevel or O level, was a subject-based academic qualification.

The “O” level of the English language is the general level of the English language which makes the students communicate easily and effectively with each other. It is basically awarded by the Cambridge International Examination.

A candidate who has an O level English language certificate should take the IELTS. This is because taking the IELTS test depends upon the individual requirement for either admission in Universities and Colleges of the abroad countries.

For the IELTS candidate whose main purpose for taking the test is to migrate to In Visa interview, the person is asked by the interviewer for proving his or her good proficiency level in the English language.

How Long Does Is Take To Prepare For IELTS Test?

Firstly, each part of the IELTS exam is different. So, it is necessary, that ensure you fully understand what is expected of you, while you prepare for the test.

Preparing for the IELTS exam can be overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you have patience, a willingness to learn and determination, then, you will do well.

As a matter of fact, the duration of preparing for the IELTS test is solely dependent on the candidate. This is because every candidate has a unique way of managing their time, and planning their daily task.

However, it takes discipline to be able to focus and avoid distraction. Regardless of that, I suggest that a candidate should prepare for at least 6-8 weeks unless he/she already has a short time to prepare.

Preparing for the IELTS test requires a lot of determination, a positive attitude, willingness to learn, and of course, good practice. Furthermore, the test evaluates your communication skills needed for study and work in an English-speaking country. 

There is more to achieving a high score in IELTS than just reading the textbooks. Of course these are important, but there are other things you can do while preparing for the IELTS test. Hence, this will help improve your understanding of the English Language.

Before you take any step, it is very important that you go through the guidelines of your shortlisted universities, or VISA application procedure of the English speaking country you want to work or study in, to ensure a lucrative study, and career ahead.

If you effectively, and diligently adhere to this step-by-step guide, and also go the extra mile to practice all you will learn, then, you are 70 percent sure of having a high band score.

Therefore, here are some important tips specially written to help you prepare for IELTS test:

Understand the test format/pattern:

For every IELTS test candidate, the test is conducted in four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The total duration of IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes. So, even as you take the test, you have to be time conscious, and learn how to manage your time well.

The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day. The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. 

Importantly, you need to know that there are two types of IELTS: Academic and General Training.

Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests. However, the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

Before you register for your IELTS test, you should be aware of which one of these tests you will take.

Nonetheless, the best strategy to achieve high scores on the IELTS is nothing but adequate preparation for the IELTS test. Remember, just as the popular saying goes, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”. 

Make A Plan Which Works For You.

Truly, before you even open your IELTS exam book, it’s important that you plan out your study schedule.

In addition, making a plan that works for you, helps you avoid distraction, and also manage time. Hence, the importance of having a to-do list.

Remember, when to fail to plan, then, you are giving room to failure. Preparation and adequate planning is a good way to make the progress you need.

Know Your Current English Language Level

Indeed, it is important for you to know your current level of understanding of the native English Language.

Spending time with native English speakers can really help your exam preparation.

Amazingly, you can have fun with this part of the exam preparation.

In between reading IELTS textbooks, it can be beneficial to watch English speaking Youtubers, listen to English speaking podcasts or watch some films in English.

At the start, it may help you to start watching these movies with subtitles in your native language.

Practice

There are some very helpful resources on the IELTS website, including sample questions and tests.

Furthermore, you can purchase additional resources through the IELTS website or with another provider. These will give you an idea of what to expect in the Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking tests. In addition, here are some sample test questions

Read as much as you can, especially newspapers and magazines, and also, practice writing and speaking whenever you can.

In fact, some students may benefit from a formal preparation class, workshop, or book to help enhance their English skills and make them feel prepared.

Also, Cambridge English Assessment has some great preparation materials, including helpful tips for each exam section.

Register as soon as possible

In fact, of what use is it for you to prepare without having a goal to register for the IELTS test.

Of importance, you will need to pay the test fee before you register.

When you feel you are ready to take the test, you need to register for a test date with an IELTS centre.

FAQs

Should I try to use a British or American accent for IELTS?

You don’t need to use a British or American accent. The most important thing is for you to sound clear enough for the examiner to understand what you are saying.

Does handwriting matter in IELTS test?

Yes, having a good handwriting is a necessity. This is because, if you have a bad handwriting, the examiner may not understand what you are writing, and that may attract a reduction in your marks.

Which type of pencil is best for ielts exam?

Preferably, I suggest you want dark pencils instead or lead pencils. This is because, pencils with a dark shade make your writing easier to be read.

Is computer based IELTS easier?

Both the computer-based test and paper-based tests are easy. it all depends on how much the candidate prepared for the IELTS test. Also, For both the computer-delivered and paper-based tests, the Speaking test is completed face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

What documents do I need for IELTS exam?

For the IELTS test, you need your original, valid, and the same passport you used to register for the test. Also, you need to come with your colored photocopy.

How can I register for the IELTS test?

You need to book your exam through an official IELTS body (eg. IELTS, IDP or the British Council). 

Conclusion

The preparation for the IELTS test will not only help you to improve your English Language skills but, will also boost your confidence to study abroad without any linguistic obstacle.

Also, it can help you move around the world while you get the job you’ve always wanted.

Now that you know what is IELTS and how important a role it plays in your admissions or career in an English speaking country, you may want to book your IELTS test right away. Not just that, but scoring well in IELTS should also be one of your top priorities.

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