IELTS is not "just another English exam" as there are a lot of intricate details that you must pay attention to.
To pursue your education or work a job in a country that uses English as their primary language, IELTS is a requirement. This certifies that you can talk, write, read and understand English whenever required.
Most countries are pretty stubborn with their IELTS criteria as they do not want their students and employees to struggle later.
Getting an admit from the university that you desire might become impossible if you fail to get a presentable score. But with enough practice and a good grasp over the IELTS exam pattern, it shouldn't be too difficult.
When you see the IELTS exam format, it may feel overwhelming and you may give up the preparation. That’s why we’ve curated a coaching program to guide you in your IELTS test preparation.
Before getting into the details, you must be clear that the IELTS question pattern has two streams from which you must choose one.
There's the IELTS Academic format and then there's IELTS General format. They both serve their own purpose and if you do not choose the right category, your test results will be considered invalid.
If you are a student who's applying for college, you are most likely to choose the IELTS Academic test format. No matter their differences, both of these tests will still get graded using the same rules.
The IELTS test structure will be based on four categories. Your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills will be put to test. The first three would happen on the same day while your speaking test might get scheduled a few days before or after that.
Listening Test would test your ability to understand English when you listen to a person talk. You will hear audio samples that are pre-recorded and after hearing them you will be asked to answer questions based on them.
The extent to which you can identify the main idea, the opinions and the purpose of the speaker would determine your score.
In the IELTS test listening, you will have to follow the recording closely because you might give an incorrect answer even if you miss a split second.
The test consists of a series of four recordings each having their own context. At the end of each section, you will find questions that are based on the recording you just heard.
The first recording usually is an everyday conversation between two people based on a common social context.
The second recording will be a monologue that is nothing but a person talking about a certain social topic. Topics for the monologue would stay consistent throughout the recording.
The number of people involved in the third recording might go up to 4. You might hear conversations that happen within a group, with an educational or training tone to it.
The last recording will again be a monologue that is based on an academic subject. You will have a total of 40 minutes out of which the recordings will go on for about 30 minutes.
The last ten minutes is for you to type or write your answers. You will have a break that would last for a few seconds between one recording and the next.
You will have to answer a total of 40 questions. The question pattern might vary from one examination to the next.
Match, multiple-choice, summary or sentence completion, diagram or map labelling are some of the popular questions. The type of pattern that you receive for each recording will be shuffling.
It is advisable to practice and ready yourself to face them. You will get rewarded 1 mark for every correct question. Answering all 40 of them correct will reward you a band score of 9.
You have to understand that these band scores are either reported in whole bands or half bands and there's no in-between. You will not be rewarded scores in other decimal points as they will be rounded off.
The Reading test will judge how fast you can read, understand and interpret textual content in English. Just like the other categories, you will have to manage a lot of things at once in the IELTS reading format.
You have to quickly go through the given passages, know what they are trying to say and find your answers. This is where the Academic and the General category will have their differences.
The content that you read and the answer varies between the two streams. The test has three passages and each of them will have related questions that follow.
The good part about the IELTS reading test format is that the answers are always there and your only role is to find out where.
As far as the reading test is concerned, you will be given three long pieces of text to read. All these sections are very descriptive and have several lines that you must go through in a very short time.
The sources from where they are acquired are never disclosed. Generally, these are clippings from books, magazines and newspapers.
The sources might vary based on whether you have chosen Academic or the General exam. You don't need to have any particular speciality in order to read or understand them.
Most of these topics are very general and they are formulated in a way that almost anyone can understand them.
Although you might need a firm grasp on English as these questions are designed having college students and professionals in mind.
You will have a total of 60 minutes on hand, both to read and transfer your answers to the medium. The total number of questions is 40 which is the same as that of the listening test.
2. What To Expect
Just like how you can’t know where the content is getting sourced, you also can’t know the type of questions.
But there is a pattern that you can follow. If you get yourself familiar with all these types of questions, you have a good chance of getting most of them right.
Most of these questions would involve filling up blanks from sentences or paragraphs. You might also be asked to fill empty boxes in tables.
Matching a text to a diagram or a chart is also a pretty popular question type. You must be really careful to read the instructions before you answer each question.
Most of these questions have separate instructions that you must adhere to. Failing to do so would result in you losing points associated with that particular question.
Some of these questions have multiple choices from which you have to choose one or they might have blanks with no options.
The writing test is to examine your ability to give an appropriate answer to the task that has been assigned.
You have to process the question, know what it expects, and bring out your own ideas to the table.
The extent to which your content matches with the context of the question is an important criterion in grading your writing test.
Your grammar and vocabulary are also equally important to land you a decent looking IELTS band.
Understanding the question and giving out the right answer is one thing. But if you fail to plan and allocate your time properly, you won't even complete typing or writing the answers in the IELTS writing format.
There are two individual tasks that you have to complete in an IELTS writing structure. The objective of the second task is similar for both the academic and the general exam.
Whereas, the context of the first task is poles apart. In the first task of an academic IELTS exam, you will either have to face a table, a chart, a graph or a diagram.
Once you get a good idea of it, you have to write or describe it in your own words. The more descriptive and error-free your content is, the more points you get.
In a general exam, for the first task, you will receive a situation for which you will be asked to write a letter. You will either have to request information or inform something to them.
In the second task, you will have to write your personal opinion about an argument or a statement that's given. As long as your content stays professional, you can use your personal style.
You will have a total of 60 minutes in your hand to either type or write your answers for both the tasks. Task 2 needs more time when compared to task 1 for obvious reasons.
The IELTS writing task 1 format has a minimum requirement of about 150 words and task 2 requires 250 words. Falling short of that will force the examiner to consider your answer invalid.
This requirement makes Task 2 twice as important as the IELTS writing task 1 format in any given IELTS examination. You will have to allocate 20 minutes for the first task and 40 minutes for the second one.
This is the only way in which you can complete your test as well as answer the tasks to your satisfaction. Make sure you divide the text into equal-sized paragraphs to make it look readable.
Unlike the listening, reading and writing tests, you will have a face-to-face interaction with an examiner in a speaking test.
There are a lot of chances for even people with excellent English knowledge to underperform. This is because your stress levels might shoot up while facing real-time questions.
There are very little chances for you to have all four tests on the same day. You might have your speaking test scheduled a few days before or after your registration date.
In terms of prior preparation, there is only very little you can do in the case of the IELTS speaking structure as there is no such defined content from where your questions are taken from.
Your speaking test will have 3 separate parts with each having their own parameters to analyse.
The first part is pretty basic and all you have to do is to identify yourself and answer a few general questions involving your family, home and hobbies.
As there is not much to think in this section, you have to use this time to calm yourself for what's coming next. In the second part, you will be receiving a card that has questions from a specific general topic.
You can have 1 or 2 minutes to plan and write down your points. Once you begin talking, the examiner won't interrupt you for the next 2 minutes and following which you will be asked questions from the same.
The third section is nothing but a continuation of the second one, as you will face further questions from what you've spoken before.
The entire span of an IELTS test speaking will never last more than 15 minutes. It might seem like a really long period but once the test commences it is very hard to keep a track of time.
Your performance over all three sections will be analysed and taken into account for result calculation. It is important that you give out your best on all three of these sections to maximize your results.
When it comes to the grading criteria, there are four major points that the examiner will pay attention to.
The way you pronounce your words, their accuracy, the range of words that you use and grammar will decide your score.
The speaking test ensures that you can communicate exactly what's on your mind to the listener using the best possible choice of words.
This pattern is the same for both the Academic and the General category. For grading purposes, the examiner will be recording every answer that you present.
The IELTS test format is not something that you can prepare in a week. English comes with practice and it is not some knowledge that you gain from reading a book.
The first thing you have to do is to decide when to register for the exam. If your English is not that great, you might need at least a month or two before you gain some confidence.
The questions you face in the listening and reading sections follow the flow of the recording or the paragraph that's been given.
To put it in simple words, in the IELTS exam structure the answer for the first question is probably somewhere in the first paragraph. After the completion of all four tests, you might have to wait for a few weeks to get your results.
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