What Is IELTS Exam – The Ultimate IELTS Primer (2023)

What Is IELTS Exam

What Is IELTS Exam – In today’s world, studying abroad has become a valuable opportunity for students who want to improve their educational and career prospects. But for non-native English speakers have to clear English language proficiency. For this, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) plays an important role. 

The IELTS test serves as a gateway for students who want to study in English speaking countries. Universities and educational institutions in English-speaking countries, such as the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada also require prospective students to submit an IELTS score as part of their application process. 

A high IELTS score shows a student’s proficiency in English, which is important for academic success. It allows students to confidently engage with course materials, actively participate in class discussions, collaborate with fellow students, and complete assignments and examinations effectively. 

But there are many students who don’t know about the ielts exam, format, and structure. That’s why I have created this blog to provide students’ about what is the IELTS Exam in detail. 

So, let’s get started!

What Is IELTS Exam?

IELTS is also known as the International English Language Testing System. It is a globally recognized examination that assesses the language proficiency of individuals who want to study, work, or migrate to English-speaking countries. 

This test is widely accepted by over 11,000 organisations in more than 140 countries, including universities, employers, professional bodies, and immigration authorities. 

It serves as an important prerequisite for international students who want to take admission to universities or colleges, professionals pursuing career opportunities abroad, and individuals planning to immigrate to English-speaking countries.

Types Of IELTS Exam

There are two types of IELTS Exam:

  • IELTS Academic 
  • IELTS General Training

IELTS Academic

This test is designed for students who want to study at the undergraduate or postgraduate level in an English-speaking country. It assesses the language skills needed for academic purposes, such as reading academic texts, understanding lectures, writing essays, and engaging in academic discussions.

IELTS General Training

This test is designed for candidates who are seeking work experience, training programs, or migration opportunities in English-speaking countries. It assesses practicl language skills required for everyday life and work contexts, such as understanding instructions, writing letters or emails, reading newspaper articles, and holding conversations in different social and workplace settings. 

Note: It’s important to note that the Listening and Speaking sections are the same for both the Academic and General Training exm. But, the reading and writing sections have different content and tasks to suit the specific purposes of each exam type. 

Structure and Format Of The IELTS Exam

Module DurationDescriptions
Listening Approximately 30 MinConsists of four sections with 40 questions in total. Test takers listen to a variety of recordings and answer questions based on the information heard.
Reading60 MinutesComprises three sections with 40 questions in total. Test takers read a range of texts, including articles, passages, and extracts, and answer questions.
Writing 60 MinutesComprises two tasks: task 1 (150 words) and task 2 (250 words). Test takers must write an essay and a report based on given prompts or topics.
Speaking 11-14 minutesConducted as a face-to-face interview. Consists of three parts: introduction, individual long turn, and a discussion. Test takers speak on different topics. 

Scoring System And Bands

IELTS Exam uses a scoring system based on bands to assess test taker’s English Language proficiency. The scoring system ranges from 0 to 9, with 0 being the lowest score and 9 being the highest. 

The overall band score, as well as individual band scores for each module, are reported on the IELTS test report form. 

Here is a brakdown of the scoring system and bands for the IELTS Exam:

Listening And Reading Modules

Correct answers are awarded a score of 1 mark.

The raw scores are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale using a conversion table.

The overall band score is calculated by taking the average of the scores from both modules. 

Writing And Speaking Modules

  • Trained examiners assess these modules based on specific criteria, known as band descriptors. 
  • The band descriptors outline different levels of performance for each criterion.
  • Examiners assign scores for each criterion, and these scores are then combined to calculated the overall band score for each module. 

Overall Band Score

  • The overall band score is n average of the band scores obtained in each module.
  • The band scores are rounded up or down to the nearest half or whole band. 

Band Score Of IELTS Exam

Here is a summarising the band scores and their corresponding descriptions for the IELTS exam:

Band Descriptions 
9Expert User – Has full command of the language with complete accuracy and fluency.
8Very good user – has a wide range of vocabulary and uses English with precision and flixibility.
Good user – has operational command of the language, with occasional inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
6Competent user – has an effective command of the language in familiar situations but may have difficulties in unfamiliar contexts.
5Modest user – has partial command of the language and coper with overall meaning but makes many mistakes.
4Limites user – has basic competence and can understand and communcate in familiar sutuations but with frequent breakdowns.
3Extremely limited user – conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Marked difficulties exist.
Intermittent user – no real communication is possible except for the most basic information.
1Non-user – Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond a few isolated words.
0Did not attempt the test – no accessible information provided.

Tips And Strategies For Each Module

Here are some tips and strategies for each module to prepare for the IELTS Exam:

Listening Module

  • Familiarise yourself with different accents: Expose yourself to a variety of English accents by listening to podcasts, news broadcasts, and movies from different English-speaking countries. This will help you become accustomed to different pronunciations and speech patterns.
  • Focus On Keywords: Listen for keywords and synonyms in the questions and use them to locate the relevant information in the audio recordings. This will help you  answer the questions more accurately and efficiently. 
  • Practise active listening: Develop active listening skills by taking notes while listening to the recordings. Summarise key points, underline important details, and make quick annotations. This will help you retain information and answer questions more effectively. 

Reading Module

Skim and scan: Quickly skim the passage to get a general idea of the topic, main points, and structure. Then, scan the passage for specific information by looking for keywords of phrases related to the questions. 

Manage your time: Divide your time wisely among the different passages. If you find a question particularly challenging, move on and come back to it later. Don’t spend too much time on single question. 

Practise active reading: Engage actively with the text by highlighting key information, making brief notes, and summarising each paragraph. This will help you comprehend and remember the content more effectively. 

Writing Module

Plan your writing: Spend a few minutes planning your essay or report before you start writing. Outline your main ideas, supporting points, and the overall structure of your piece. This will help you organise your thoughts and ensure a coherent and well-structured response. 

Practice time management: Allocate your time wisely between task 1 and task 2. Task 2 carries more weight, so make sure you have enough time to develop your ideas, provide examples, and proofread your writing. 

Use cohesive devices: Use linking words, transition phrases, and cohesive devices to connect your ideas and create a smooth flow in your writing. This will improve the coherence and cohesion of your essay. 

Common Mistakes To Avoid In IELTS Exam

While preparing for the IELTS Exam, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes that test takers often make. By understanding these pitfalls, you can better focus your preparation and improve your performance. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Lack of time management
  • Neglecting to read instructions carefully
  • Not practising under exam conditions
  • Overlooking key details in the reading section
  • Insufficient planning and organisation in the writing section
  • Lack of vocabulary range and variety
  • Failure to practise speaking fluency and coherence
  • Ignoring the importance of grammar and accuracy
  • Neglecting to review and revise

Vocabulary And Grammar Tips

Here are some vocabulary and grammar tips to help you improve your performance in the IELTS Exam:

Vocabulary Tips

  • Expand Your Vocabulary: Regularly read books, newspapers, and magazines to expose yourself to a wide range of vocabulary. Make a habit of learning new words and their meanings. Use vocabulary-building resources like flashcards or word lists to improve your word bank
  • Use words in context: Practise using new vocabulary in sentences or short paragraphs to ensure you understand how to use them correctly. This will help you remember the words and increase your ability to use them appropriately during the exam. 
  • Learn Synonyms and antonyms: Enhance your vocabulary by learning synonyms and antonyms of common words. This will give you more options when expressing yourself and help you avoid repetition. 
  • Study collocations: Pay attention to words that commonly go together. Learning collocations will improve the naturalness and accuracy of your language use. For example, instead of saying “make a decision”, use “take a decision.”

Grammar Tips

  • Review grammar rules: Brush up on essential grammar rules, including verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, sentence structure, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. Identify areas where you have weaknesses and focus on improving them. 
  • Practice sentence construction: Build grammatically correct sentences by paying attention to subject-verb agreement and sentence structure. Ensure your sentences have clarity and coherence. 
  • Use a variety of sentence structures: Show your knowledge of different sentence structures, including simple, compound, and complex sentences. Varying your sentence structures will make your writing and speaking more engaging and help you convey your ideas effectively. 

Conclusion (What Is IELTS Exam)

In this blog, we have discussed what is IELTS Exam. I hope you have understood easily. Preparing for the IELTS Exam requires a holistic approach that encompasses all modules: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. By understanding the exam structure, familiarise yourself with the question types, and implementing effective strategies, you can improve your performance and increase your chances of achieving a desirable band score. 

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