March 7, 2019 International English Language Testing System(IELTS)

International English Language Testing System(IELTS)

What is IELTS?

IELTS – International English Language Testing System

The exam mainly measures the ability of test-takers to communicate in the four basic language skills – listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Often international students are confused between choosing IELTS or TOEFL, as universities abroad ask for either exam scores.

Often international students are confused between choosing IELTS or TOEFL, as universities abroad ask for either exam scores. It is up to you as a test taker to decide which of the two exams to take, but remember that IELTS is more preferred in UK, Australia, and New Zealand, while TOFEL is popular among applicants to universities in US and Canada. So knowing the required average scores for US universities and average scores for Canadian universities is an important start.

A lot of students get confused about why are the IELTS scores required. The simple answer to this is that foreign universities and visa granting authorities need to be sure that you will not have communication issues while staying in the country. You need to show a good understanding and strong command of the English language and that is why your overall IELTS scores are so important. Another common doubt students have is whether IELTS is a compulsory exam or not. No, IELTS isn’t compulsory in all university admissions. Many universities might even not even require IELTS scores for admission purposes. But remember that if you don’t give IELTS, your chances of getting the student visa might suffer as the visa officers may not be convinced about your English proficiency without IELTS scores. So it is safer to appear for IELTS and aim to score at least 6 bands overall.

You can take IELTS exam with the British Council or IDP up to once a week (four times a month). The British Council and IDP global schedule for test dates are 48 days per year.

The objective of the IELTS exam is to test the English language proficiency of the candidate who wishes to migrate for study or work in a foreign country where English is used as a medium of communication. This test is also accepted by countries for immigration purpose as well.


IELTS or International English Language Testing System assesses the student’s abilities in all four skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking of the English language in under three hours. Students are required to be above 16 years of age to be able to appear for the IELTS Exam. Students who are applying to study in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia are required to appear for the exam. Medical professionals who are planning to work or pursue further studies in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia are required to take the test. Candidates who are planning to settle down permanently in Canada, Australia or New Zealand are also required to take the test.

Is there any Eligibility Criteria for appearing in IELTS 2018?

There is no specific IELTS 2018 eligibility criteria that we can observe above Eligibility set by any of the exam conducting bodies. However, the selection procedure varies among universities/organisations. Hence, the candidate should be aware of the application procedure of the institute/s where he/she applies to. An aspirant has the freedom to choose IELTS test date 2018 in accordance with his/her convenience and availability of seats. The IELTS test is available throughout the year and in 2018(IELTS would be conducted 48 times) as specified above.

IELTS Syllabus 2019:

Exam     Name Total Duration SECTIONAL DURATION 

Reading Listening Writing Speaking

IELTS 2 hours 45 minutes 60 minutes

What is the format of the IELTS test?

If you have decided to register for the IELTS exam, you will need to prepare for this important assessment. You should be familiar with the structure and format of the test, and keep some key rules in mind. You can sign up at language centres, and choose specific IELTS exam preparation courses, but may also find online resources helpful. IELTS learning materials and resources provide very good practice for understanding the exact format of the tests.

There are three versions of the IELTS test – Academic, General Training and Life Skills. The first two tests, Academic and General Training, are divided into four sections: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. All candidates are required to take the same Listening and Speaking tests, but there are different requirements for the Reading and Writing sections. The Academic Reading and Writing questions will be more abstract than those in the General Training version. IELTS Life Skills includes only the Listening and Speaking sections, and it take less time to complete than the other options.

Listening section

The Listening section takes approximately 30 minutes to complete (plus 10 minutes to transfer your answers). At the beginning, you will hear the instructions and a sample question. You read the questions in section 1, listen to section 1, and give your answers. The same procedure follows for sections 2, 3 and 4. You then transfer your answers onto the answer sheet.

There are 40 questions in a variety of formats: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling; note, flow-chart, summary or sentence completion; short-answers.

The Listening test has four parts:

  1. First, you will hear a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context. The dialogue is easy to follow and you simply need to understand the speakers’ main ideas, attitude and intentions.
  2. The second section involves listening to a monologue set in an everyday social context. You must pay attention to every detail and you may even be required to recognise a person’s feelings and emotions from the tone of his or her voice.
  3. In the third part, there is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context. This may include a group of students discussing a project, or planning their work with a teacher or tutor.
  4. Finally, you will listen to a monologue on an academic subject. You should expect to hear more specialised terms specific to an education environment.
    Each conversation or monologue is played only once and may include different voices and native-speaker accents. Make sure you write your answers on the question paper while you are listening so you do not miss any information.

Speaking section

The Speaking test takes 11-14 minutes and is divided into three parts:

  1. The introduction and interview last about 4-5 minutes, during which the examiner introduces himself/herself and asks you to introduce yourself. He or she will ask you general questions on familiar topics such as your home, family, work, studies and personal interests. This is so that you can warm up and feel more comfortable with the examination.
  2. The second part lasts no longer than 3-4 minutes. You will receive a task card and the examiner will ask you to talk about a particular topic. You will have recommended key points which you can include in your discussion. You will have one minute to prepare. You will talk for 1-2 minutes and the examiner may ask you a couple of additional questions.
  3. The last part of the Speaking section is a 4-5 minute discussion. The examiner will ask you in more detail about the topic from part 2. You will discuss more abstract issues and ideas. It is a good idea to avoid short replies; give detailed, relevant answers to the examiner’s questions whenever you can.

Reading section

The time limit for the Reading section is 60 minutes. The Reading test includes three passages, with a total text length of between 2,150 and 2,750 words.

Like the Listening section, the Reading section features 40 questions organised in different ways: multiple choice, identifying information (true/false/not mentioned), or a writer’s views/claims. You may also have to match information or complete sentences, summaries, tables and flow-charts. The Reading section features some questions that require only a short answer. You will be expected to write words taken directly from the Reading text on the answer paper, without changing their form.

Academic Reading

Each of the three parts of the Academic Reading contains one long text. The texts are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest, accessible to candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from a descriptive and factual style to more discursive and analytical content. They may include materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. A simple glossary may be provided for any technical terms.

General Training Reading

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may consist of between six and eight short texts related by topic. Topics are generally relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country. Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work related issues like applying for jobs, training, and more. Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest.

Writing section

There are two tasks in the Writing section. Whether you choose the Academic Writing or the General Training Writing Test, the total time permitted for both tasks is 60 minutes. Part 1 requires you to write at least 150 words, and part 2 at least 250 words. Your answers should not include separate notes or bullet points, as this will decrease your overall mark.


Academic Writing

In task 1, you are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may have to explain some data, as well as the stages of a given process. In some cases, you may also write about how something works, about the qualities of an object or, how a certain event takes place.

Task 2 requires a written essay in response to a point of view, argument , problem. The issues raised are of general interest and are designed to be easily understood by candidates entering a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme abroad, or planning to work for employees in specialised fields such as medicine, nursing, law or accounting. Responses for the Academic Writing test should be written in a semi-formal, more neutral style.

General Training Writing

Task 1 introduces a real-life situation, and you will be asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You may write the letter in either a personal or semi-formal style. The second writing assignment requires you to write an essay related to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing task 2 essay.

IELTS Life Skills

The IELTS Life Skills is a new English Language test designed to meet UK Visa and Immigration requirements for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes. This test assesses your speaking and listening skills only, at level A1 and B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The tasks in IELTS Life Skills are designed to reflect the everyday experience of communicating in an English-speaking environment.

IELTS Life Skills A1 takes 16 to 18 minutes and requires you to demonstrate your English speaking and listening skills as part of your application to UK Visas and Immigration for ‘family of a settled person’ visas. You will listen and respond to spoken language, communicate basic information, feelings and opinions, and engage in conversation with another person about familiar everyday topics (family, work, education, etc.)

IELTS Life Skills B1 may last up to 22 minutes. As well as the tasks under A1, it involves more complex knowledge of the English language, including using formality, comparing, and making relevant points and responding to what one or more people say.

We have seen IELTS Syllabus includes four sections – Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. You get marked on these four sections and you get the IELTS total score as well. The total score is the sum of the scores in the four skill areas.

The total test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes

Here is the IELTS paper pattern –

Section Duration IELTS Academic
Listening 30 minutes


It encompasses four recorded monologues and conversations
Reading 60 minutes


Three long reading passages with tasks.

Texts range from descriptive and factual to discursive, and analytical includes non-verbal material like diagrams, graphs and illustrations texts are authentic (taken from books, journals and newspapers)

Writing 60 minutes A writing task of at least 150 words where the candidate must summarize, describe or explain table, graph, chart or diagram, and another short essay task of at least 250 words
Speaking 11 to 14 minutes The face-to-face interview includes short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic and a structured discussion


Listening, Reading and Writing sections are tested in one sitting. Speaking section may be on the same day or up to seven days before or after other tests.

Popular Countries where IELTS is accepted for university admissions are

UK, Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada.

Types of ILTES:

IELTS is available in two test formats: Academic or General. Students need to take the Academic IELTS test. Other applicants who need IELTS scores for a work visa or immigration purposes need to take General IELTS test. Here we cover only the Academic IELTS test.

IELTS Exam Fee:

The registration fee for IELTS is Rs. 12, 650

How to Register for IELTS?

Among the language exams required for admissions to universities abroad, IELTS is the most popular exam among Indian students. It is available in two formats: Academic IELTS and General IELTS. Students are required to take the Academic test, while all other applicants who need IELTS scores for Visa purposes need to take the General test. Here in this article, we will look at IELTS Academic test.


IELTS test is available on 48 fixed dates per year (up to four times a month), depending on local demand. The candidates have the liberty of giving the exam on any of the 48 days in as per their convenience.

Online – you need to go on the British Council IELTS registration page and create an online profile. Then you’ll be required to pay the exam fee. Online registration on the British Council IELTS India website is the fastest and easiest method. Through the online method, you can register anytime and on any day. You will be required to pay with a credit/debit card.

In person – You can register in person at British Council office or an IDP India office. You may download the online form or fill in a paper application at the office. You will be required to pay the fee through credit card/debit card, demand draft or ICICI bank deposit slip. You will receive an instant confirmation of your reservation.

IELTS Exam Slot Booking:

For booking a slot for the IELTS exam, the aspirant needs a valid passport and a debit/credit card to pay the registration fee of INR 12650.

Some important points to remember while registering for the IELTS exam:

  • The aspirant must be above the age of 16 for taking the IELTS exam.
  • The information provided by the aspirant while registering should match the information in the passport.
  • The candidates need to carry their passport while going for the test.
  • The aspirants need to keep their debit/credit card handy while registering for the IELTS exam.

Steps to register for the IELTS exam:

  • Visit the official IELTS website.
  • Find your nearest test location.
  • Register on the official IELTS’ website and pay the registration fee online or download the registration form and submit the form at their local test center.
  • The test center will send a confirmation of the time and date of the exam.
  • The speaking test will be scheduled on a separate date within 7 days of registering for the test. The test center will give a confirmation for the speaking test time.

Test Schedule:

British Council Global Schedule has allocated 48 days per year for the IELTS exam. You can choose any one date according to your convenience. After you decide on when to start preparing for IELTS, you should choose a date at least three to four months before the college application deadline. Doing this should give you plenty of time to retake the exam if you feel the first attempt wasn’t great.

IELTS Test centers:

The IELTS India exam is conducted and offered on demand round the year at the following test centers in India: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhatinda, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Calicut, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Kochi, Kolkata, Kottayam, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Madurai, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Patiala, Pune, Raipur, Rajkot, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Trichy, and Vijayawada.

Receiving your results:

You will receive your IELTS test result 13 days after taking the test, and the result will be recorded on a test report form. You can also check your results online, and some centres may even give you a preview by phone.

If you are unhappy with your results, you may ask for one or more sections of the test to be re-graded. This incurs a fee, which is refunded if the results are revised. You must apply for a re-mark within six weeks of the test date.

There are no band scores for the IELTS Life Skills test, just a pass/fail result. Test results are normally available within seven days of your test, and you will receive one copy of the IELTS Life Skills test report form. If you pass the IELTS Life Skills A1 or IELTS Life Skills B1, you cannot re-take the test at the same level for a period of two years. If you do not pass, there are no restrictions on re-taking the exam.

Best books and resources for IELTS:

It is obvious that if you want to do well on IELTS you need to have a good command of the English language. Obviously the best way to improve your skills for this test is to take coaching classes if you are totally new to the basics of the English language. But for those who prefer the option of self-studies, you probably will need to buy a grammar book, along with helpful software and CDs.

There are various choices when it comes to buying a good IELTS guide, but the final selection will depend on your current English level. However this list will tell you which books are the best overall for the general readership.

  1. IELTS Tutor Kit– The IELTS Tutor has a 40 minute CD with an accompanying booklet. This kit has been designed to help non-English speaking students achieve success. Its content is unique and it prepares students for the IELTS Test by providing tips and suggestions in visual format. It is self-study aid and if used correctly, it provides students with around 100 hours of tuition.
  2. Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 – Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 contains four practice tests for the Academic module of the IELTS exam, plus Reading and Writing papers for the General Training. The book contains an introduction to the modules of the exam together with an explanation of different question types and how to approach them.
  3. The Cambridge IELTS Course Workbook – Insight into IELTS offer comprehensive preparation for the IELTS. Insight into IELTS also introduces students to the types of tasks they are likely to meet during the exam. This is a workbook providing extensive practice material for IELTS examination. It prepares students for the updated Speaking Paper, and contains vocabulary builder activities to develop the vocabulary. The answer key of the recorded material make it ideal for self-study.
  4. Step Up to IELTS Personal Study Book with Answers – This book is the perfect choice for intermediate level students who find most IELTS books too challenging for them. This book covers essential exam skills for the Academic Training modules in 60 hours teaching time. It provides students with advice on how to maximize their band score. The practice sections at the end of each unit constitute sample IELTS tests.
  5. Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CD – This excellent book fills a crucial gap in the learning materials available to the IELTS students, and is currently the only book which helps IELTS students in this area. Although IELTS doesn’t contain a specific grammar module, but the appropriate usage of grammar is undoubtable important for success in the other modules. All grammar points needed for IELTS are covered in the book, and are presented in context through listening and self-discovery activities provided on the CD.

Exam day tips for IELTS: How to approach each section

Every exam needs to be prepared in a different manner, and so does the day of the exam needs to be approached differently. Studying for the exam is half the process; the other half is having strategies to answer questions. Doing well on any exam requires you to understand how you approach the exam.

Here are a few tips to help you do well on each section.


  • Keep the length of your answers relevant. If you decide to keep on speaking until the examiner stops you, that will be wrong as the examiner may never stop you and you may start losing focus.
  • Don’t learn answers ‘by heart’ and practice them. This process will make you more nervous, and the chances are you will not asked the exact same question you prepared for.
  • Listen to the question carefully and then answer it. If you need any clarification, ask before answering so that your answer is relevant.
  • Talk in English before your exam. The simple reason behind this is to get your mind to start thinking in English. The best way to talk in English is to first start processing your thoughts in English.


  • Don’t divide total time by the number of questions. You get 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, so that gives you one and half minutes on each question. This process is wrong as there are different strategies that you need to consider. The initial few questions will take longer because you still have to figure out how the text is organized. You can decide to give a bit more time to the more hard passage, and a bit less to the easier one.
  • It is not necessary to first read the question and then read the passage to figure out where the answer is. It might work for some people, and may not for others. You can read the text quickly to get an idea of the content. You save time this way as you know which part of the text has the answer. First try both approaches and see which one works better for you as there is no right or wrong approach.


  • Leave as much time as possible for planning out the written answers. If you know what you want to say, you will write quicker and more precisely. First take two minutes to organize your thoughts and then start writing.
  • Save five minutes for the end to read your answer again. This is done to make sure there aren’t any repeated words. This is called repetition in language, and is a fatal error in any language exam. Make sure to double-check your answer.


  • Focus on the whole question, not don’t just look for keywords in it. Two questions can contain one keyword but can be completely different. Keywords only tell you the context of the question, not the answer.
  • Don’t write down everything as you are listening. If you are busy writing, then you are not listening.
  • Similar to the reading section, look at the complete question and listen closely. You will be required to read, write and think at the same time but most of your time needs to be spent listening.


Scoring in IELTS

IELTS is designed to assess English language skills at all levels. Your total IELTS score will be a combination of the band scores from the four sections. You will receive IELTS scores based on each of the four skills on a band of 1 – 9, and you will also be awarded an overall band score. You can score whole (example 5.0, 6.0, 7.0) or half (example 5.5, 6.5, 7.5) bands in each part of the test. You need to have some idea about how the scoring pattern works to better understand how your IELTS score will be calculated.

Section Score Range Mean*
Listening 1-9 6.2
Reading 1-9 5.8
Writing 1-9 5.6
Speaking 1-9 5.8
Total 0-9 5.9

*Source –

IELTS score validity – Validity of IELTS scores is until two years after the date candidate took the exam on


Official Website for IELTS :

IELTS study material

Refer to the following IELTS guides and preparation books to help create a study plan –

Road to IELTS: e-learning and online practice assessment – With over 100 hours of interactive activities, advice videos from British Council experts, hints and tips on question types as well as downloadable practice tests, it is an up-to-date online study material which is aimed precisely at the challenges candidates face.

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS – This guide is packed with the advice you need to achieve your desired band in IELTS exam. Practical and easy to use, it focusses on the language and skills you need to perform with confidence.

IELTS preparation material free download by IDP – This pack is called the IELTS Essentials Pack by IDP. It includes examiner-approved IELTS test preparation tips which are best suited for your test, prepare for IELTS checklist to help you organize your IELTS journey and detailed information on what to expect on test day.

Below given some asked questions by students:

1.How soon the candidate can give the IELTS test again?

A.Candidates can resist for the IELTS exam anytime.


2.How can I postpone or cancel my IELTS test?

A.Candidates can cancel or postpone the IELTS exam. However, candidates can postpone or cancel the exam personally or through email. Cancellation or postponement cannot be done through the telephone.

  • If you postpone or cancel your application more than 5 weeks before the test date, you will receive a refund less than 25% of the administrative fee.
  • Candidates cancelling the exam less than 5 weeks ahead of the exam will not receive any refund.
  • Those who do not appear for the exam will also not receive any refund.

3.What is the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?

A.IELTS academic is given by those who wish to enroll at a college/university to pursue studies. Whereas, IELTS General Training is given by those who wish to migrate to a foreign country for work.

4.If the candidate is absent from the exam because of the genuine medical condition?

A.If the candidate does not appear for the exam, they will lose their whole amount of the fee. However, if the candidate is not able to give the exam due to genuine medical condition, then they need to submit the medical certificate within 5 days of the exam to receive the refund after deducting the administrative cost.

5.How to register for IELTS?

  • Visit the official IELTS website.
  • Register for the test.
  • Select the test type and date.
  • Give all your details in the application form.
  • Upload all your documents (candidates’ passport). This step is not mandatory.
  • Pay the fee and check all the details and then proceed.

6.How can I prepare for the IELTS Test?

A.The aspirants can prepare for the exam through self-study or by attending coaching for the test. Those who wish to prepare themselves can prepare from best books and resources for IELTS. Apart from this, those who wish to take professional help can select from the top 10 IELTS coaching centers in India.


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