What is IELTS?

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System which is governed by the British Council, University of Cambridge and IDP: IELTS Australia. The test is to assess English language proficiency and conforms to the highest standards. The IELTS is taken by those who wish to live and work where English in the main language of communication. 

 

 

IELTS is made up of four components:  

Speaking, listening, reading and writing. Each has a band score of their own which is totaled at the end. A candidate is required to meet a specific total according to their desired countries requirements. IELTS is also separated into two different modules that candidates may choose from according to their needs. These two modules are the academic module and the general training module. The Speaking test may even take place a day or two later at some centers. 

IELTS Listening test lasts for about 30 minutes. It consists of four sections, played on a CD, in order of increasing difficulty. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. The test is only played once, and the questions for each section must be answered while listening, Time is given for students to check their answers 

IELTS Reading test lasts for 60 minutes. Students are given an Academic Reading test, or a General Training Reading test. Both tests consist of three sections, and in both tests the sections are in order of increasing difficulty. 

IELTS Writing test also lasts for 60 minutes. Again, students take either an Academic Module, or a General Training Module. Students must perform two writing tasks, which require different styles of writing. There is no choice of question topics. 

IELTS Speaking test consists of a one-to-one interview with a specially trained examiner. The interview is recorded and has three separate parts: 

An introduction and interview, an individual long turn where the candidate speaks for one or two minutes on a particular topic, and a two-way discussion thematically linked to the individual long turn. This interview will last for approximately 11-14 minutes. 

How are IELTS band scores calculated?  

Each skill (listening, reading, writing and speaking) is awarded a band scores. These scores range from 0-9 and you can also score a .5 for example, 6.5 or 8.5. Aside from a band score for each skill, you will also receive an overall band score. 

Below is an example of how the scoring works:  
Listening: 8
Reading:  7.5
Writing: 7
Speaking 7.5
Overall: 7.5 

With band scores, your scores can also be rounded up or down to the nearest .5 or whole number, example:  

  • If you get an overall score of 5.25 you will the move to a 5.5 score 
  • If you get an overall score of 6.75 you will then move up to a score of 7 
  • If your overall score is 5.1 then you will receive a total of 5

Listening and reading scores:
In a listening and reading test with a total of 40 points you are only scored on what you have got correct. Wrong answers are not scored. 

Writing Assessment:
The two tasks of the written assessment are assessed on the following four criteria
Fluency, Lexical resource, Grammar range and accuracy,  

Speaking assessment:
Speaking, like writing is assessed on the following:
Fluency, Lexical resource, Grammar range and accuracy, pronunciation.

It is strongly advised that one reads through the band descriptors clearly and has a thorough understanding of them.

 IELTS Band Descriptor

Bandscore Skill level Description
Band 9 Expert user You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.
Band 8 Very good user You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good user You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
Band 6 Competent user Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 Modest user You have a partial command of the language, and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.
Band 4 Limited user Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely limited user You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
Band 2 Intermittent user You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 Non-user You have no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test You did not answer the questions.