Everything you need to know about IELTS

essential information about ielts
In this post, you will learn about the most essential information about the IELTS exam, including the format, free practice sources, and trustworthy training programs.

What is IELTS?

The IELTS (The International English Language Testing System) is an exam for English proficiency. It was co-managed by British Council (BC), IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English. It is one of the major English-language tests in the world.

IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, European, Irish, and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organizations across the world.

There are 2 types of IELTS – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. IELTS is approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as a Secure English Language Test for visa applicants both outside and inside the UK.

IELTS band scores range from ‘Band 1.0’ to ‘Band 9.0’. Only no-show test takers get ‘Band 0’. The Test Report Form is valid for 2 years. Most institutions and countries do not accept report forms that are ‘older’ than 2 years unless applicants can prove that they have worked to maintain their levels of English language.

As of 2022, you can take IELTS entirely online or at a test center. If you disagree with the test results, you can submit an EOR (Enquiry On Result) for a review for a fee. If the results after review are changed, you will get a refund for the EOR fee.

You can retake the IELTS exam at any time. As of December 2022, in a few countries, you can retake one skill at IDP and BC.

What does the IELTS exam look like?

The IELTS exam has four main sections. Your overall band score is the average score of the four skills.

Listening (30-40 minutes)

You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues, and conversations by a range of native speakers. The recordings are played once only. You will answer a series of questions based on what you hear. Your score is calculated according to the number of correct answers you have.

Estimated band score calculation – IELTS Listening

Reading (60 minutes)

You will read three long texts for the IELTS Academic exam, or 5 shorter texts for the IELTS General Training exam. There are different types of questions, such as multiple-choice, matching information, and true/false/not given. Your score is calculated according to the number of correct answers you have.

Estimated Band Score Calculator – IELTS Reading

Writing (60 minutes)

Task 1 Academic: You will be given a visual representation (graph, chart, diagram) and asked to describe the information in your own words.

Task 1 General Training: You will be given a prompt and asked to write a letter based on the given information.

Task 2: You will write an essay in response to a view, argument, or problem.

The overall score of each task is calculated based on a scale from 0 to 9, following the average score of 4 criteria, namely Task Achievement/Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Lexical Resource.

Your overall writing score = [Task 1 + (Task 2 x2)]/3

Speaking (11-14 minutes)

Part 1: Introduction and interview about familiar topics (e.g., family, hobbies).

Part 2: You will be given a task card with a topic and a set of points. You have one minute to prepare and take notes before speaking on the topic for 1-2 minutes.

Part 3: A discussion related to the topic in Part 2, exploring more abstract ideas and issues.

Your overall speaking score is calculated on a scale from 0 to 9, based on 4 criteria, following the average score of 4 criteria, namely Pronunciation, Fluency and Coherence, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Lexical Resource.

How do you practice for IELTS?

IELTS does not reveal its official tests for practicing purposes, except for a few familiarization tests. However, there are different sources for your preparation. You should do practice tests before taking the actual IELTS exam.

Practice9.co – Free IELTS Practice Tests

Official IELTS Website

British Council – Free Practice Materials

Cambridge IELTS Series

IDP IELTS Australia – Free Preparation Materials

Where can you find a trustworthy IELTS Preparation Program?

While there are many IELTS training centers and independent trainers on the Internet, it is necessary for you to pick a trustworthy center/trainer. Many training centers and individual trainers do not have experience with the IELTS exam. So, it is important that you do your research well before paying for any courses. Here are a few questions you should ask the center/trainer before investing your money.

  • Have the trainers taken IELTS before? If yes, what were their scores? – It is very important for the trainer you choose to have first-hand experience with IELTS. If the trainer has never taken IELTS, you should seriously reconsider your decision to work with them.
  • Does the training center/trainer provide learning materials? If yes, you should be allowed to preview the materials.
  • Does the training center/trainer provide feedback if you take classes with them? If not, this is not a good option for you.

Here are some trustworthy IELTS Preparation Programs and Trainers:

IELTS Coach Classes by British Council

Being one of the three managing parties of IELTS, the British Council (BC) is undoubtedly one of the most trustworthy sources for IELTS courses and classes. IELTS Coach is a program that allows you to access BC’s most popular online IELTS courses.

There are three credit-based packages for you to choose from, Express, Lite, and Intensive. The fees range from 200 USD to 700 USD.

Check out the details here.

IELTS Online Program by Macquarie University, partner of IDP Education

Similar to BC, IDP Education is a co-managing partner of IELTS and it provides a variety of English classes as well as IELTS coaching programs. Partnering up with Macquarie University, IDP Education provides you with free 30-day access to Macquarie University’s IELTS Online Program. You can also purchase the monthly and yearly packages directly from the website of IELTS Online by Macquarie University.

There are 3 packages for you to choose from, Single, Double, and Supersaver. The fees range from 25 UAD to 100 UAD.

Check out the details here.

Everything IELTS – The Comprehensive Guide to IELTS

This is the most comprehensive self-study guide to IELTS you can find on the Internet. It encompasses all four skills in IELTS with detailed explanations and step-by-step strategies for all the skills. It comes with a FREE IELTS Writing Samples Package and a FREE Common IELTS Mistakes (Pronunciation, Grammar, and Vocabulary) series. You will also get access to an exclusive interactive group for IELTS learners.

There are two packages for you to choose from, Everything IELTS with Writing Evaluations (182 USD/month) and Everything IELTS with Speaking Evaluations (155 USD/month). Both packages are valid for 3 months. There’s a special package for both Writing and Speaking Evaluations.

Check out the details here.

No matter what type of IELTS you are preparing for, practice makes 9.0. And don’t wait until the last minute to start your practice.

Have fun learning.

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Huyen Nguyen

Founder of Practice9, creator of IELTS with Huyen. Huyen has 10 years of experience with IELTS, overall 8.5.

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