The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a standardized international English test for assessing English language proficiency among non-native English speakers. The IELTS is jointly managed by three institutions, namely; the British Council, the Cambridge English Language Assessment and the IDP Education PVT LTD. The IELTS was established back in 1989. It is one of the 2 major English testing systems in the world. The other one is the TOEFL.
There are 2 IELTS versions, namely the General Training and the Academic Versions. The General training version is suitable for people who want to gain work experience or undertake non academic training. The general training version is also ideal for immigration purposes. On the other hand, the Academic version is suitable for individuals who are interested in enrolling in institutions of higher learning i.e. universities. The Academic version is also suitable for professionals, i.e. nurses and medical doctors who are interested in studying or practicing in an English speaking country.
Most South African, New Zealand, Irish, Canadian, British and Australian academic institutions accept IELTS. In the U.S., IELTS is accepted in over 3,000 academic institutions. There are also a number of professional organizations which accept IELTS across the globe.
It is important to note that there is no minimum IELTS score required to pass. Test report forms or IELTS results are issued to all IELTS candidates with scores ranging from band 1 to band 9 for a non-user and an expert user respectively. A band 0 score is given to individuals who don’t attempt the test. It is however important to note that individual institutions have different thresholds. It is also important to note that most institutions disregard reports which are older than 2 years unless a user proves that they have worked to maintain their level.
The International English Language Testing System incorporates numerous features. Below is a discussion of the main IELTS characteristics.
1. A variety of writing styles and accents have been presented in test resources/materials to minimize linguistic bias.
2. IELTS tests a person’s ability to read, listen, speak and write in English.
3. IELTS band scores are utilized for every single language sub-skill, i.e. reading, listening, speaking and writing. The band score ranges from 0 (didn’t attempt the test) to 9 (expert user).
4. One of the main components of the IELTS is the speaking module. This module resembles a one-to-one interview of the test taker and examiner. Examiners assess candidates as they speak. There is also a recorded speaking session meant for monitoring and re-marking in case there is an appeal against the band score.
5. IELTS was developed with input from numerous item writers globally. Teams are located around the world in countries like Great Britain, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Canada among other English speaking nations.
IELTS Test Structure
Candidates are required to finish all 4 modules, i.e. the writing, speaking, reading and listening modules to get a band score, which is indicated on the IELTS TRF (Test Report Form). It is important to note that all candidates take similar speaking and listening modules. The reading and writing modules, however, differ depending on the test version. The first three parts of the IELTS test are done without breaks.
Lee Wei is an English teacher from Bangkok, Thailand. For information about IELTS exam preparation in Bangkok, visit www.languageexpress.co.th/en/ielts/