IELTS-The path to a good score
The IELTS, International English Language Testing System is an international standardized test used to assess the proficiency for non-native English language speakers. Test owners are a conglomeration of the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and IDP Education Pvt Ltd. IELTS came into existence in the year 1989 and is still a popular test along with TOEFL, Test Of English as a Foreign Language. Many universities across the world consider the IELTS scores of their applicants as a basic criterion of eligibility for them to apply into their universities. Almost every university in the USA require a minimum TOEFL scores to allow candidates to apply however in the last decade they have also opened doors to those with average IELTS scores. It is like boon for the students as it allows more flexibility to students, allowing them to take one test and apply for universities across the world. IELTS is accepted by most of the academic institutions in English speaking countries including most of the European nations – USA, New Zealand, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and South Africa, not to forget almost 3,000 academic institutions across the United States. It is also accepted by various professional organizations across the world.
Get familiar with the test format
The IELTS test has two versions- one Academic and other known as the General training. Let us talk about these sections
1)Academic-As the name suggests it is for those applying to universities or higher education institutions. It can also be taken by doctors or engineers applying to work in an English speaking country.
2) General Training version is for those applying for immigration to an English speaking nation or to undertake non-academic work.
The total duration of the test is around 2 hours and 55 minutes for listening, reading and writing modules. Trivia: This makes IELTS the longest test in the world without breaks! So be prepared. Below is the break of time,
• Listening: first 30 minutes in which a recording is played centrally and additional 10 minutes for transferring answers onto the answer sheet.
• Reading: 60 minutes.
• Writing: 60 minutes.
• Speaking: 11–15 minutes.
The first three modules have to take on the same day however the speaking test can be taken at a later date at the discretion of the test center. The tests are designed in a way that it assesses the proficiency of the English from non-user to expert user. Scoring is reported in the form of bands, the bands range from 0 to 9. Each band corresponds to a specified competence in English usage.
Do not fall short in terms of preparation
If you are looking paper based resources, the first step is to make sure you get a copy of the latest IELTS practice book from IDP or British council. Booking your test through British council would give you free access to their online learning and practice materials. Some of the top coaching institutes are Jamboree, British Council, Magamind, Manjoorans Group, IELTS Guru, Fateh Education, Olive consultants and these are located in various different parts of India so make sure you check for the ones closest to you. There are always online forums for candid reviews from trainees so take a look before you enroll.
Path to success
There is no formula for success but a path to it and on this path you need to take the first step by understanding the test, its format, its content and you will know what to expect. Once you know this ensure that you make use of free coaching material and if need be enroll in a coaching institute to help you get that structure and regime to your learning. Practice, practice, practice, that last and the most important steps in the path to IELTS success is practice. Considering this is a long test with no breaks, taking as many mock exams as possible will ensure you are not absent minded during the actual test. Stay focused, stay positive while taking the test.