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IELTS Information for test takers

IELTS exam practice – The following information is meant for IELTS test takers to help them prepare for the IELTS test.  

You might like to consider taking a practice IELTS test with Philip and this will help you understand how you can improve and get the best possible score.

In IELTS, there are four papers: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. There are two different IELTS modules: Academic and General Training. The Speaking and Listening tests are the same in both modules, but the Reading and Writing tests are different. We will give information on the General Training Module.

What’s in the IELTS Listening paper?

The paper has four sections, with ten questions in each section. The questions are in the same order as the information in the recording, so the answer to the first question will be before the answer to the second question, and so on.

Sections 1 and 2 deal with everyday, social situations. There is a conversation between two speakers in Section 1 (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements). Only one person speaks in Section 2 (for example, a speech about local facilities).

Sections 3 and 4 deal with educational and training situations. In Section 3 there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor). In Section 4 only one person speaks on an academic subject.

You will hear the recordings once only. Different accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand and North American, are used.

You will need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. You will have 10 minutes at the end of the test to do this. You should be careful when writing your answers on the answer sheet because you will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

What’s in the IELTS General Training Reading paper?

There are three sections of increasing difficulty. Section 1 may contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts. Section 2 contains two texts. In Section 3, there is one long text.

The texts in Section 1 deal with everyday topics, and they are the sort of texts that a person would need to be able to understand when living in an English-speaking country. You will need to pick out important information, e.g. from notices, advertisements and timetables. The texts in Section 2 focus on work topics, for example, job descriptions, contracts, staff development and training materials. The text in Section 3 deals with a topic of general interest. The style of writing in Section 3 is generally descriptive (containing detailed information) and instructive (telling you how to do something). This Section 3 text is longer and more complex than the texts in Sections 1 and 2. Section 3 texts are taken from newspapers, magazines, books and online resources.

You will need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. You must transfer your answers during the hour you are given for the Reading test. Unlike the Listening test, no extra transfer time is given. You should be careful when writing your answers on the answer sheet because you will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar

What’s in the IELTS General Training Writing paper?

There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.

In Task 1, you have to respond to a situation by writing a letter, for example, asking for information or explaining a situation. You need to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

In Task 2, you are given a point of view, argument or problem which you need to discuss. You need to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.

You must write your answers using full sentences. You must not write your answers as notes or bullet points. You must write your answers on the answer sheet. You are allowed to write notes on the question paper but these will not be seen by the examiner.

Marking

Certificated IELTS examiners assess your performance on each Writing task. There are four assessment criteria (things which the examiner thinks about when deciding what score to give you): 

  • Task achievement/response
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy.

Task achievement (in Task 1) and Task response (in Task 2) assesses how accurately, appropriately and relevantly your response covers the task requirements, using the minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2.

In Task 1, Task achievement refers to how well your letter achieves its purpose.

In Task 2, Task response includes how well you develop your argument in response to the task, giving evidence and examples which may be from your own experience.

Coherence and cohesion assesses how clear and fluent your writing is, and how you organise ideas and information. It includes giving your ideas in a logical order, and using a range of cohesive devices (for example, linking words, pronouns and conjunctions, etc.) appropriately.

Lexical resource assesses the range of vocabulary you have used, and how accurately and appropriately you use it.

Grammatical range and accuracy assesses the range of grammar you have used and how accurately and appropriately you have used it.

What’s in the IELTS speaking paper?

The Speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the candidate and an examiner. The Speaking test is recorded.

There are three parts to the test, and each part follows a specific pattern of tasks in order to test your speaking ability in different ways.

Marking

Certificated IELTS examiners assess your speaking performance throughout the test. There are four assessment criteria (things which the examiner thinks about when deciding what score to give you):

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation.

Fluency and coherence assesses how well you can speak at a normal speed without too much hesitation. It also includes putting your sentences and ideas in a logical order and using cohesive devices (including linking words, pronouns and conjunctions, etc.) appropriately so that what you say is not difficult to follow.

Lexical resource assesses the range of vocabulary you use and how accurately and appropriately you use vocabulary to express meaning. It also includes the ability to express yourself using alternative vocabulary when you don’t know a particular word.

Grammatical range and accuracy assesses the range of grammar you use and how accurately and appropriately you use it.

Pronunciation assesses your ability to speak in a way which can be understood without too much effort.

Summary

Time allowed:11–14 minutes
Number of parts:

Parts 1–3

Part 1 – Introduction and interview

What’s involved?

In this part, the examiner introduces him/herself and checks your identity. Then the examiner asks you general questions on some familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies or interests.

Part 1 is 4–5 minutes long.

What skills are tested?This part tests your ability to give opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences or situations by answering a range of questions.

Part 2 – Long turn

What’s involved?

Part 2 is the individual long turn. The examiner gives you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. The card tells you what points you should include in your talk and instructs you to explain one aspect of the topic. You have one minute to prepare your talk, and the examiner will give you a pencil and paper to make notes.

By using the points on the task card and making notes during the preparation time, you should be able to think of appropriate things to say, and have time to structure your talk so that you keep talking for 2 minutes.

The examiner will then ask you to begin talking and will stop you when the time is up. They may then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 2 lasts 3–4 minutes, including the preparation time.

What skills are tested?This part tests your ability to speak at length on a given topic, using appropriate language and organising your ideas logically. You will need to think about your own experiences to complete the long turn.

Part 3 – Discussion

What’s involved?

In Part 3, you and the examiner discuss issues related to the topic in Part 2 in a more general and abstract way and, where appropriate, in greater depth.

Part 3 lasts 4–5 minutes.

What skills are tested?This part tests your ability to explain your opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate about issues.

IELTS Speaking Test Video

Here you can see a video of an actual IELTS speaking test. Here you can see what is expected of you

IELTS Score 8.5

The video to the right shows a student who will get a score of 8.5 in the speaking test.

IELTS Score 6

The video to the right shows a student who will get a score of 6  in the speaking test.