The passageway for greener pastures is the ability to communicate effectively. Nowadays, every individual going out of the country either wanting to reside at another location or work or study there, is required to undergo IELTS. IELTS short for International English Language System is a worldwide tool used to assess an individual’s ability to utilize the English language in listening and conversing with other people, and be able to write and read instructions, reports and other pertinent documents.It is recognized in most countries where English is used as the main means of communication (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States of America). Many universities, immigration authorities and other professional agencies even rely on it because it utilizes the highest standards of language proficiency assessment involving the four fundamental skills in communication (listening, reading, writing and speaking).
IELTS has two forms: Academic and General Training. Academic module is taken by individuals who ought to study or train using the English language. There are individuals who are professional and reached either undergraduate or postgraduate levels. Meanwhile, General Training Module opt to assess language proficiency and skills of individuals who wanted to apply for migration, to pursue secondary education and to obtain working or training experience in an English speaking country.
IELTS Test is composed of four parts
It is the first portion of the exam. The candidates in Academic and General Training Modules both share the same listening test. During the test, they are asked to listen to various recorded conversations or monologues, or some texts. It is ONLY played ONCE (not with the use of earphones) so, the candidate is allowed to make some notes or read and answer the questions while listening and be provided enough time (usually 10 minutes) to transfer the answers on the test paper. The listening test is comprised of 40 questions with 30 minutes time duration.
Tip for the candidate: Always stay tuned to English speaking TV channels for you to be familiar with their accents and dialects. If one is knowledgeable how to listen for a certain word and its meaning means one also knows the exact spelling. Spelling is very essential in listening test, so make sure to know the right accent, right spelling, and the right meaning for common words used in the English language.
The second portion and tricky part of the exam is the reading test. There are 40 questions included here and candidates taking the Academic and General Training Modules have the same format but with different sets of questions. Academic Reading is usually comprised of texts taken from magazines, journals, or books. In their set of test, texts may relay some detailed descriptions of certain topic and may also include some visual diagrams or illustrations.
General Training Reading on the other hand is composed of three sections. The first part of their reading test is about acquiring and providing common information. The second section is more descriptive and elaborative in nature. And the last portion pertains to reading some texts utilizing a more complex language.
The reading test only allows an hour (60 minutes) for all candidates to finish.
Tip for the candidate: The reading test only allows an hour to finish so, practice how to do proper scheming, scanning, and reading techniques. A paragraph is always composed of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Questions would tend to focus on the thought or the idea of the topic so one does not necessarily read the whole paragraph unless some detailed informations is asked.
The writing test also has 60 minutes duration for both Academic and General Training examiners. They both as well have two sets of writing tasks. The first task should at least be composed of 150 words and the second one should be around 250 words. Lesser than that is not allowed and could be considered as a ground for the candidate.
Academic writing’s first task is to describe, present, or interpret a certain illustration given. The second task on the other hand asks the examiner to provide his point of view on a certain topic. There is no right or wrong here but the candidate is assessed for his ability to compose an essay or report with proper usage of grammar and content information.
Meanwhile, in the General Training writing, the examiner is task to write a letter in order for him to answer the problem presented in task 1. The second task however, asks the examiner to write a short essay regarding a certain topic from which it could be argumentative or something that could make the examiner express his own perspective of the topic.
Tip for the candidate: In writing, the examiner should avoid to be redundant and flowery. It is also advisable to be concise and straight to the point. Practice writing an essay making sure you meet the exact word count needed.
The speaking exam is often done a day after the three previous tests. Like in formal interviews, the candidate should prepare well (both how to answer and converse fluently and to be physically presentable). This test may only take for 11- 14 minutes.
The interviewer may at first ask the candidate about their personal details, their family, work, and interests; which should only last for 5 minutes. Then, he or she may provide a verbal prompt on a card and the candidate will then be given a minute or two to compose his answers and verbalize it. The interviewer may ask some follow up questions after it.
The interviewer engages the candidate to talk about a more abstract or complex topic in the last portion of the test. All in all, each task is consists of 3- 5 minutes depending on the fluency of the candidate to converse with the interviewer.
Tip for the candidate: Loosen your nerves prior to the speaking test. Breathe deeply and release the stress. In answering a question, you don’t need to repeat the question, go right ahead to the answer while trying to be polite and professional at the same time. Refrain from using “ams and ahs” and “I don’t know…” phrases instead, stop and compose what you want to say. Allow some eye to eye contact and assume an open position. Relay to the interviewer than you are interested in talking to him and in discussing the topic.
Someone who wants to take the IELTS should first contact or visit a test center to know the schedule of examination dates to which the applicant is amenable of taking. Many institutions today are facilitating IELTS review and examination. These are language centers or review centers growing like mushrooms in the country. They provide package treats for applicants like review materials, coaching tips and sessions, plus facilitating the exam itself.
The next thing that the applicant should do is to inquire for application form. A test center assists an applicant in obtaining the form and provides instructions on how to apply for the test. The application form and some Specimen Materials are bought directly from ESOL Cambridge or IELTS Australia. Take note that this materials are paid thru credit card or cheque.
Then on application, the applicant is instructed to fill up a form enclose therein the testing fee which costs (Php 8,986) and two- passport sized pictures. An identity number is necessary for identification purposes which should also be reflected on the test paper on the conduct of examination. The identification card should at least show a picture, signature and date of birth of the person.
If the person is taking the examination outside his own country, he should present his passport, or should make use of his passport as his identification card.
Upon sending the application, the nearest testing center then informs the candidate of the exact date, time, and location of the test. Often the listening, writing, and reading examinations is taken in a day separate from the speaking exam which is confirmed at the earliest time.
In preparing for the IELTS exam, the candidate is given optional virtue if he wants to attend a course pertaining to it but given four tests to prepare requires one to be at least familiar with what he will expect from each test portions. The candidate should be knowledgeable how to answer and fill up the test papers provided.
Furthermore, on the day of examination, the candidate should be punctual and should bring with him the same identification card he used in his application. He is only allowed to bring some pencils and ballpoint pen, erasers and sharpener. Other than that are prohibited like recorder, cellphones, cameras and books.
When the examination starts, the candidate is not allowed to go out the room so personal needs should be addressed prior to it. It is also a need to know that during the speaking test, all conversations that had transpired is recorded.
Meanwhile, the result of the IELTS test is released by the test center to the sponsoring institution after a couple of weeks. Often, the band score required in countries using the English language varies. The highest band score that an examiner can achieve is 9 while the lowest is 1. The range of band scores commonly acceptable is at least 6.5 up to 9; which means that the individual is a competent, good, very good, or expert user of the language.
Should one need further information about schedules of examination and other inquiries, just visit the organization’s website: www.ielts.org or you may contact the nearest testing centers in your area. Registration Hours: Monday to Saturday (9:00 am – 4:00 pm).