The International Language Testing System or IELTS assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate in English effectively. This test must be undertaken by individuals who wish to migrate abroad for employment or education. It mainly assesses four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Most universities ask for a particular IELTS score, and it is a part of their admission criteria. Hence, it is essential to prepare for it beforehand. Below is a brief overview of the critical sections to focus on while preparing for IELTS.
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There are two IELTS test types: Academic and General. Test takers can opt for the former if they wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate courses. However, those who want to study below the degree level or apply for employment can opt for the latter.
Nevertheless, candidates must be conversant with the IELTS syllabus, which consists of the question format. They must be aware of the time duration of each section to achieve a high band score.
Section-wise Guide to Focus On While Preparing for IELTS
This section consists of 40 questions, and candidates must solve this within 60 minutes. Candidates must use the skim and scan technique. These passages may be descriptive, analytical or factual and contain a logical argument. However, these texts may also have graphs or diagrams. Each question is of 1 mark.
There are three sections in the IELTS General Training. The first section is on ‘Social Survival’ and is mainly related to essential communication in English. The second section is on ‘Workplace Survival‘ and contains texts on job descriptions, training and development of the staff. The last section is more descriptive, and texts are mainly from newspapers, magazines and books (fictional and non-fictional).
The standard types of questions that appear are:
- Multiple choice
- Identifying information
- Identifying the claim of the writer
- Matching information
- Matching headings
- Matching features
- Completing sentences
- Note, table, flow-chart completion
The speaking test assesses the candidate’s ability to communicate in English. This section spans for 11-14 minutes and has three parts:
Part 1: The examiner generally asks questions based on general topics. These topics may be family, work, home, studies or interests. This session takes around four to five minutes.
Part 2: Candidates get a cue card and must speak on that topic. They will have one minute to prepare and make notes before speaking on it. The examiner will ask follow-up questions on that same topic.
Part 3: Further questions are asked about the topic in Part 2. The candidate will be asked to discuss abstract ideas, and this session lasts for four and five minutes.
Candidates must listen to the recordings, which will play once. The content of the four recordings is given below:
Recording 1: It revolves around a conversation happening between 2 people, based on an everyday social context.
Recording 2: It is a monologue and can speak about local facilities.
Recording 3: It is a discussion that includes four people. For instance, it can be a lecture between a university student and a tutor discussing an assignment.
Recording 4: This is a monologue. One possible example is a university lecture.
There are two writing tasks for both Academic and General. However, both may differ from each in Academic and General.
For Writing Task 1, candidates must summarise the graph, table, chart and explain it in their own words. They must highlight the key features and present an overview. They must be conversant with the type of vocabulary to use as they will be evaluated on a range of grammar, lexical resource, coherence and cohesion and response to the task.
For Writing Task 2, candidates must understand the given statement and draft an essay as a response to the same. They must present their position and maybe also be asked to talk about opposing or differing views.
In Task 1, candidates must write a letter responding to a situation. These letters can be of various types:
For Task 2, candidates must present a point of view and can be personal.
Candidates can use the following books to prepare the IELTS syllabus:
- Cambridge 1-16
- IELTS General and Academic Study Guide
- Success to IELTS: Tips & Techniques
- Cambridge Grammar for IELTS
Now that candidates know the IELTS syllabus, achieving a band score will not be that difficult. They can follow the resources mentioned above to prepare for the same. Candidates must remember that they will be marked from a band score from 1 to 9, and an average score will be taken from each section. Hence, they should prepare for it keeping these pointers in mind.