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IELTS..Door to Western Countries

Talk of generation today… everyone wants to go abroad and settle there. May it be through work permit or student visa? But the common bridge is IELTS (International English Language Testing System).

Since 1989, IELTS has been proven and trusted worldwide for providing a secure, global, authentic test, which measures true to life ability to communicate in English. IELTS is the original four-skills English language test, with more than 500,000 IELTS test conducted every year. IELTS test checks the ability to communicate in English across all four-language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking. IELTS is a jointly managed test by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations , British Council and IDP Education Australia. Over 120 countries around the globe recognize IELTS scores as the trusted and valid indicator of ability to communicate in English.

IELTS can be classified into two divisions i.e. Academic which is for students and general which includes all the immigration individuals.

The preparation time can vary from student to student. The total test time awarded for the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes and consists of the following:

·  Academic Reading : includes 3 sections, 40 items, 60 minutes

·  Academic Writing : involves 2 tasks: 150 words and 250 words, 60 minutes 

·  General Training Reading : is inclusive of 3 sections, 40 items, 60 minutes  

·  General training Writing : includes 2 tasks: 150 words and 250 words, 60 minutes  

·  Listening : has 4 sections, 40 items, 30 minutes  

·  Speaking : involves 11 to 15 minutes




Listening Test

Listening test is the first among the four. Here the individual is given a headphone through which he/she hears a conversation and has to mark correct choices in the answer sheet. This test is divided into four parts in the increasing difficulty order. The biggest problem is that the cassette is played only once. So one has to be an active listener. Some questions are multiple choices. The total numbers of questions you have to answer are 40. More than 30 answers right means a good mark.

The key to this test is that the candidate is given enough time to go through the questions, when the tape plays he/she can write the answers there and then. Remembering whole of the tape will not be of much use. The candidate just needs to concentrate on a few dialogues. At the end of the listening test you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet: use those minutes to complete the answer sheet and try to write something in all the 40 spaces even if you are not sure of the correct answer. There is no negative marking.

Reading Test

Second is the reading test, where management of time is an issue. Again a candidate has 40 questions to answer in an hour from three passages. Another point in the listening section is that one is given 10 minutes to transfer the answers to sheet, which does not happen here.

The key here is the effective time management. A candidate can devote 20 minutes to each passage, but it's not that easy, as it seems. In addition to this one must read the questions before reading the passage as reading the passage first will again waste time. Normally a person should use 3-4 minutes to read the questions; use 10-12 minutes to read the passage and then answer where you can. In this way one would be able to find a lot of answers. Another important thing is to read the instructions carefully.  Sometimes only two words or single line is asked and the candidate goes on writing the full explanation. One has to be very precise: sometimes just a single word in the passage can make you have to decide between two alternatives. 

Rest of the times the text is divided into a number of paragraphs and you are asked to choose a title for each paragraph from a list of possible titles. In the weeks before the exam, test when you read an article in a newspaper or in a magazine, try to give a title to each paragraph. The title is usually the main point of the paragraph. This will help you very much.

Writing Test

Next comes the writing test where one's thought process and presentation skills are tested. This part is divided into two sections..... The first is an analysis of a chart, a graph, a table or something similar. The second is a composition about an argument of general interest. Again time management is the key out here. Total time allotted is 1 hour. The person should spend 20 – 25 minutes on the first part and 35-40 minutes on the second.  For the first part the normal word count is 150 words….. Which does not mean that the candidate has to be precise. One should not write less than 150 words but should not even exceed 250words as that becomes too lengthy for the examiner. Try to understand the main points and write about them. The suggestions about the number of the words and the organization are valid for the second task as well. The difference is that you have to write at least 250 words for this task. Try to avoid mistakes in grammar and make a composition in order: the paragraphs have to be clear.

Speaking Test

This test can happen one day prior or after the above three mentioned tests.  Here the candidate meets an official from the respective embassy and participates in an 10 – 15 minutes conversation. The conversation normally includes the candidate, his plans for the future, his past studies, and the reason for which he is taking the IELTS, his country, and his town. Therefore he has been prepared for these subjects. No one has to worry about anything as this is not supposed to be an interview but a normal conversation. Basically his pronunciation and understating of English on the diction basis is tested.    

If you have cleared all these tests within 2 days then you have cleared IELTS.  Since this is the basic step to foreign education, a number of courses are available in the market. In addition to this there are numerous coaching classes all over the country, which have specialist as trainers. The score comes in the bands not in points or percentages. 9 bands are the highest and 1 band is the weakest. The requirement of these bands differs from country to country, college to college and course to course.  

And finally, IELTS like any other exam is a test of mental aptitude and confidence. What you prepare, how you prepare and when you prepare counts a lot in clearing IELTS. But more than that your passion and commitment pave the way for success. Remember nothing is difficult when you set your mind to do it. Instead of trying to memorize everything, make an effort to understand the basic English vocabulary and sentence structure. And while you are preparing for this big exam, make a new friend in the very beginning only. The dictionary. And don't forget that success is fifty percent perspiration and other 50% inspiration. So stay motivated.