English: The Language that the World Speaks:
As the world has become one shrunken globe, it does not come as a surprise that English is the dominant business language connecting people across continents. It has become a doorway for people to unlocking global opportunities as well as entering the international workforce.
Although English may not be the most spoken language in the world, it certainly is considered as the official language in most of the countries. In real sense of the word, English is the official language of 54 countries including U.K., USA and Australia.
Not only that, it is the official language of Air transportation and Shipping, the leading language of Science, Computer Technology, Commerce and Literature. It has also become a major medium of education, publishing and international trade and negotiations.
Research points out that English really can put you on a pedestal and help you freewheel through crucial turning points in your life, seeking an education abroad being one of them. The English language will also allow you access to an incredible amount of information in the form of books, movies, speeches and documentaries which may not be otherwise available.
1. Why IELTS?
With English language dominating the global educational scenario and employment arenas, educational institutions, employers and a number of government and professional bodies necessitate a proof of English language skills. This is often an integral part of their as part of their admission procedures or recruitment process.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an official and highly recognized English exam worldwide. IELTS is devised to put to test the language ability of people who wish to study or work in countries where English is used as the language of communication.
The IELTS is administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. Its aim is to evaluate the English proficiency level of the aspirants. Over 3 million tests are taken each year making it one of the most accepted English language exams by education institutions to certify English language proficiency of an individual.
2. Global Recognition:
IELTS is an exam of international recognition taken by students in more than 140 countries. Over about 10,000 organizations accept IELTS as proof of language ability worldwide. Although a myth prevails among many that the IELTS is valid only in the United Kingdom or Australia and that it is not accepted in XYZ country. The IELTS being a global exam, it is considered as an important language proficiency testing tool in major countries including United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Canada, , New Zealand and South Africa.
3. Types of IELTS
IELTS being an international exam, an individual taking it will be exposed to and deal with a wide variety of English accents like American English, British, Australian and New Zealander.
IELTS is divided into the following two types:
A. The General IELTS:
The IELTS General Training test is the exam taken by aspirants who wish to migrate to an English speaking country for higher education or for gaining work experience. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The General IELTS lays emphasis on basic survival skills in broader social contexts and workplace dynamics.
B. The Academic IELTS:
The Academic IELTS is undertaken by individuals who intend pursue education (an undergraduate or postgraduate program) in an English speaking country.
Interestingly, Listening and Speaking sections are the same in both the exams. What differs are the Writing and Reading sections. The texts you will have to read and the essays you will have to write in the General IELTS are more related to daily life subjects, while the ones in the Academic IELTS are more inclined towards analytical topics.
3. Duration of the IELTS
IELTS’ duration is 2 hours and 44 minutes. The Listening section comprises of 30 minutes, The Reading section comprises of 60 minutes. Another 60 minutes are required to write the texts of the Writing section. An individual will have around 11-14 minutes to answer the three parts of the Speaking section. One must take note that the Speaking section is done on a different day altogether.
4. Sections of the IELTS
The test functions on a nine band scale to identify levels of proficiency in English. This ranges from non-user (getting a band score 1) through to expert (getting a band score 9).
Like mentioned above, The IELTS measures your English proficiency level on four abilities: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You can find a detailed explanation of each arena below:
A. The Listening Section: It has four parts and an aspirant has to go through a total of 40 questions, during which you will have to listen to four conversations and monologues. After every record, you will have to answer some questions pertaining to what you listened.
B. The Reading Section: In this section, you will have to answer 40 questions. You will have to read between 3 and 5 passages (depending on which type of IELTS you have chosen to take).
Like in the Academic IELTS, you will read 3 long texts taken from books and academic journals, while in the General IELTS you will have to read up to 5 short texts taken from newspapers and other news sources.
C. The Writing Section: An aspirant has 60 minutes to write two texts. The writing sections differ according to the type of IELTS you opt for. In the Academic IELTS, you need to do a text summarizing the information of a graphic, diagram or table that will be presented to you followed by writing an essay. While in the General IELTS, you will have to first write a letter explaining a situation or requesting information and then write an essay.
D. The Speaking Section: This section is divided into three parts. The first part deals with you having to speak about yourself and topics you are related with. In the second part of the section, you will need to answer some questions about a particular subject. Lastly, in the third section, there will be a general discussion about the topic of part two. It is important to take note that this section of the IELTS, as opposed to the speaking section of other English exams, is made face to face with an examiner.
5. Scoring System of the IELTS:
IELTS does not have pass or fail verdict format. The result of the exam will show an individual his/her proficiency in the English Language. The exam has a band scale from 1 to 9, 1 being the lowest band and 9 the highest one. Results can be denoted in a full band (eg. 6.0) or in half band (eg. 6.5)
According to the European Common Reference Framework for Languages, the bands from 1 to 3.5 correspond to the A1 and A2 levels which is one’s basic knowledge of the language, the bands between 4 and 5 are equivalent to the B1 level that is intermediate, the bands between 5.5 and 6.5 are equivalent to the B2 level with is intermediate advanced, the bands between 7.0 and 8.5 correspond to the C1 level which is advanced and lastly the band 9 is a C2 level which is master in the language.
The IELTS results depict a score for each section of the exam as well as give a general score for the whole exam. Also the scoring for each section depend upon important factors such as how good the questions were solved, the coherence and cohesion of the answers given by the test taker, the vocabulary of the aspirant and how the grammar level was. Each of these criteria eventually has similar weight in the final score.
6. How to register for the IELTS
An aspirant can take the Academic IELTS in 48 dates each year and the General IELTS in 24 dates. Please note that these dates are fixed and that they take place four times per month, usually on Thursdays and Saturdays. One can register for the exam by going to the test center or can do it online as well. To register for the exam, you will have to fill the application form and also attach a copy of you ID and two passport size photos.
7. IELTS results and Validity:
After having taken the IELTS, you will receive a copy of the results 13 calendar days after you are done with the written exam. During your registration for the exam, you can also make a request asking for copies of your results to be sent directly to around five academic institutions. Also bear in mind that the results you obtain will be valid for a good two years. In case you get a lower score than the one you expected or needed to get into an institution, you can choose to take the exam again at any moment.
If you are applying for a work visa, professional recognition or for permanent residency in Canada, it is likely that you will be required to present evidence of English language proficiency. IELTS General Training is the only internationally available English proficiency test accepted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for immigration to Canada and it’s the English test of choice for educational organizations, professional associations and employers across Canada. In fact, all universities and colleges in Canada accept IELTS, as well as all professional associations that have set minimum language requirements for professional registration.