There is no denying the fact that English has evolved into the language of the world. India is considered to be a non-native English speaking country and Indian students aspiring to study in English speaking countries need to demonstrate good English skills to cope with the life inside and outside the university. There are many English language proficiency tests available. However, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) are certainly two of the most popular ones. In this article, we will take you through the different section of the IELTS and offer some tips to crack the exam.

The IELTS Academic Test

The IELTS test is available in two versions: Academic and General. The Academic version is applicable to all students applying for higher education. It is accepted by over 10,000 institutions in nearly 140 countries which include universities, schools, etc. The idea of the IELTS Academic test is to assess your level of preparedness to study in a classroom with English as the language of communication.

The test format

The IELTS test consists of four main sections:

IELTS format

Along with knowing how to prepare for IELTS, it is of utmost importance for an IELTS aspirant to be well-acquainted with the test format.

Let’s look at each section along with some tips:

Listening  

You will be given four recordings to listen to and answer some questions based on them.

  • Recording 1Conversation (2 people) – This recording will have two people conversing in English, either in person or over the telephone. Many students find this difficult due to the fluency of the speakers in the dialogue.
    • Listen to as many conversations as possible (English of course)
    • Watch BBC/CNN with dual reporters to catch different speaking styles
  • Recording 2A monologue or a Speech – Understand the core idea of the speech along with the issues highlighted and any specific references.
  • Recording 3 Group discussion – This recording can have up to four people discussing a common topic. It can get confusing. Focus on:
    • Topic of discussion
    • Names of the people in the group
    • Specific references
  • Recording 4University lecture – A speaker will talk about a specific subject. Pay attention to examples used, references cited and any other highlights of the speech.

Ensure that you practice listening to monologues, dialogues, speeches, and group discussions as much as you can.

Reading  

This section will have three long texts to be read and questions, based on the text, to be answered. Here are some tips:

  • Cultivate a habit of reading
  • Summarize the passage in your head once you have finished reading it
  • If you are unsure, read again – DON’T GUESS
  • There is no negative marking, don’t leave any question unanswered

Writing  

There are two subsections under this section:

  1. Describe a chart, graph, or diagram in at least 150 words. The time allotted is around 20 minutes.
  2. Write an essay in response to a point of view, problem or argument in at least 250 words. The time allotted is around 40 minutes.

Some tips:

  • Don’t use bullet points in either essay
  • Task 2 has double marks, hence you might want to attempt that first.
  • Don’t copy anything from the question paper.
  • Refrain from using informal language like abbreviations.
  • Try to keep your essays to the point without straying away from the topic.
  • Practice writing essays and get them checked to understand where you stand in terms of clarity of thought and grammar usage.

Speaking  

In this section, you will meet an examiner in person. Broadly, the interview lasts for around 11-14 minutes and is divided into three parts.

Part 1 – You will be asked some basic questions about yourself like your family, school, interests, etc. This should last about 4-5 minutes.

Part 2 – You will be given a task card with a certain topic. Next, you will be allowed a preparation time of around 1 minute and will be asked to speak on the topic for approximately 2 minutes. Post this, the examiner will ask you some questions on the topic.

Part 3 – The examiner asks in-depth questions about the topic from Part 2 and assesses your ability to express your opinions.

Some tips:

  • Add value to your replies but don’t get too chatty either
  • Be spontaneous but not over-eager
  • In Part 2, don’t bluff. It is not a test of your knowledge. Speak only what you are certain about.
  • In Part 3, remember whatever you said in Part 2. The examiner might try to make you contradict yourself.
  • Try to sound confident and certain about whatever you say.

Conclusion

Apart from all the tips mentioned above, remember that this is a test of English language. Hence, having an English teacher with an experience of mentoring students for the IELTS exam, really helps. The best way to crack this exam is by learning good English. Simple.

At Inspirus Education, we understand that while most students can speak English, there are certain areas where they need assistance. Our IELTS Coaching classes offer personalized attention to each student to help them improve the English language proficiency and crack the exam.

Mastering English will not just help you with IELTS, it will also be a powerful tool in your arsenal for life. A well-spoken person is usually well-respected around the world.