ES Dubai - A Simple Guide to the IELTS Exam Format
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A Simple Guide to the IELTS Exam Format

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IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is globally recognised by academic institutions, employers, and governments to prove non-native speakers’ English proficiency. Whether you dream of studying abroad, pursuing global professional opportunities, or plan to move to any English-speaking country, IELTS plays a crucial role in the selection process for many prominent countries. It is crucial to understand its format to excel in the examination. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each section of the test, offering insights to help in your IELTS preparation and help you score higher.

Types of IELTS Tests

The IELTS offers four different types of examinations: IELTS Academic, IELTS General, IELTS UKVI and IELTS Life Skills, catering to a variety of goals. IELTS Academic is designed for those planning to study in higher education or seeking professional registration, focusing on academic language proficiency. IELTS General Training is more suitable for individuals going for secondary education, work experience, or training programmes, and it emphasises basic survival skills in broad social and workplace environments. IELTS UKVI is a test approved for UK visa and immigration purposes, meeting specific government requirements. Lastly, the IELTS Life Skills test is a unique assessment for those who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills at levels A1 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This test is often a requirement for certain UK visas and immigration categories, specifically designed to demonstrate everyday English language skills at specific proficiency levels.

IELTS Test Format

Apart from the IELTS Life Skills examination, which only measures your Speaking and Listening skills, the other examinations consist of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

1. Listening:

This section is a test of your ability to understand spoken English, featuring various dialects and accents. It comprises four recordings: a conversation between two people and a monologue based on an everyday context, a group conversation, and a lecture or talk based on studies.

There will be 10 questions based on each recording, and students can read the questions as they’re listening to the audio and even for some time before it. The four sections make up a total of 40 questions that can be completed in 30 minutes. You’ll hear the recordings only once, so concentration and quick note-taking are the critical skills needed here. The questions range from multiple-choice to matching information, and they test various listening skills. Click here to try the free IELTS Listening test.

ES Tip: Practise listening to and understanding native English speakers by watching videos on YouTube or shows on streaming sites such as Netflix.

2. Reading:

The Reading section differs between the Academic and General Training versions. The Academic module includes three long texts from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers, suited for individuals entering university courses or seeking professional registration. The General Training module features extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter daily in an English-speaking environment. Both versions have 40 questions to answer in 60 minutes, testing a range of skills like reading for gist, main ideas, detail, skimming, and understanding logical arguments. Click here to try the free IELTS Reading test.

ES Tip: Depending on the type of IELTS test you want to take, read appropriate types of text and try writing a summary highlighting the main idea and overall meaning.

3. Writing:

In the Academic module, Task 1 requires you to describe a graph, table, chart, or diagram in your own words. Task 2 is an essay responding to a point of view, argument, or problem. For the General Training module, Task 1 involves writing a letter requesting information or explaining a situation, while Task 2 is an essay based on a given topic. This section evaluates your ability to organise ideas, use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately, and write in the appropriate tone. For Task 1, you need to write a 150-word answer, while Task 2 needs to be answered in detail, in around 250 words. As the total time for the Writing test is 60 minutes, you must use it wisely by allotting 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. Click here to try the free IELTS Writing test.

ES Tip: Based on whether you are taking an Academic or General test, time yourself and test your writing skills to improve your writing speed, vocabulary, and grammar skills.

4. Speaking:

This interactive and face-to-face section includes three parts: an introduction and interview, a long turn where you speak about a given topic, and a two-way discussion on themes related to the long turn. Lasting 11-14 minutes, this part assesses your ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences or situations by answering a range of questions.

ES Tip: Try a mock test with a friend, where you introduce yourself, define a topic and evaluate your vocabulary skills and speaking speed.

Additionally, IELTS offers the flexibility of taking the test either on paper or a computer. The choice between paper-based and computer-based exams caters to individual preferences, ensuring comfort and convenience without altering the test format or content.

Remember, each section is designed to challenge different aspects of your English proficiency. Approach your preparation with diligence and confidence and you’ll be well-equipped to tackle this important milestone. Embark on your IELTS training journey with clarity and confidence. Are you looking for expert IELTS classes in Dubai? Join us today!

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