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Twenty Questions About The IELTS Exam
1. What level of English do I need to take IELTS?
IELTS can provide a test result for all candidates from beginner to very advanced. Remember, however, that the examination is pitched at intermediate level and above.
2. How often can I sit IELTS?
There is no limit to the number of times you may sit IELTS.
3. How often is IELTS available?
There are no set dates for IELTS. Most test centres offer the test at least once a month and busy centres may conduct more sessions at peak time of the year.
4. Where is IELTS available?
There are over 250 approved test centres in over 105 different countries. Contact UCLES, the British Council or IDP Education Australia for an up-to-date list of centres.
5. Do I receive a certificate?
No. You will receive a Test Report Form (TRF) from the centre where you sat the test showing your band score in each part of the test.
6. How long is a test score valid?
As with all language proficiency tests, a result has a maximum ‘shelf life’ of approximately 2 years. To be valid after 2 years, an IELTS TRF should be accompanied by evidence that you have maintained your level of English through your studies or effective use of the language.
7. What score do I need to get into university?
This depends upon the institution to which you are applying. While some will accept you at Band 5, most universities require a minimum of 6.5 overall with a minimum score of 6 in each sub-test. Some courses with a heavy emphasis on language may ask for a higher score. You should seek advice form the Faculty or University to which you are applying.
8. Do I need to pass each paper to pass IELTS?
There is no actual ‘pass mark’ for IELTS. You will receive a TRF which shows your performance on the 9 band scale in each of the four modules. The four scores are then combined to produce your overall band score. There are no IELTS certificates – just this form.
9. How long does it take to get an IELTS result?
You will receive your result within two weeks of sitting the test. The result will come from the centre where you sat the test.
10. If I reach a satisfactory level in one part of the test but not in other parts, do I have to sit the whole test again?
Yes. You have to sit all four Modules each time you sit IELTS. Your score on all parts of the test will be recorded on each TRF.
11. How long does it take to go from one Band level to the next?
This depends on your personal circumstances – your motivation to learn, your exposure to English and the amount of time you spend studying.
12. Do I have to study at an English language school before I take IELTS?
No. However, it is important to be familiar with the types of questions you will meet in the test. Spending time in an IELTS preparation class with other students will certainly be helpful because IELTS differs from other English examinations.
13. Do I have to sit all parts of the test on the same day?
The Listening, Reading and Writing modules are taken on the same day. The Speaking test is usually on this day but may be held up to two days later – at the discretion of the centre.
14. Is IELTS available on computer?
A computerised version of IELTS – known as CBIELTS – will be available at some centres for the Listening and Reading tests. You can choose whether to take the Writing test on screen or on paper. However, you will always be able to take the pen and paper version of the test at all centres.
15. What age must I be to sit IELTS?
IELTS is not recommended for candidates under the age of 16.
16. Is there a difference between an Academic and a General Training IELTS score?
Yes. The Academic module is designed to assess whether you are ready to study in an English language medium at undergraduate or postgraduate level. A General Training score cannot be used for entry to a university as the emphasis of GT is on basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context. The results are not interchangeable.
17. Which module should I sit if I want to emigrate to Australia or New Zealand?
You should sit the General Training module. A score of 5.5 is generally required.
18. How many times will I hear the Listening module?
There are four sections to the Listening module and you will hear each part ONCE only.
19. Will I be penalised if I cannot spell a word properly in the Listening test?
Poor spelling and grammar in your answers will be penalised though minor misspellings are overlooked. Both British and American spelling is accepted, however.
20. Is there a choice of questions in the Writing Test?
No. There will be one Task 1 question and one Task 2 question. You must answer both questions in the time allowed.