IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an internationally recognized and standardized test for people and students from countries where English language is not their native language. The IELTS’ main purpose is to test for proficiency in English language and is a widely accepted proficiency test by educational institutions all over the world. This testing system was established in 1980.
And it is jointly administered by IELTS Australia, British Council, IDP and the Cambridge Assessment English. Other widely accepted English language proficiency tests include TOEFL, OPI, TOEIC etc. As you well know, IELTS is an acronym that fully means International English Language Testing System. Their motto is, “English For International Opportunity”.
OVERVIEW OF IELTS
IELTS is of two types which include Academic and General Training. Like we said earlier, it is a standardized test that exists in either Computer based format or Paper based format. International English Language Testing System tests four major language skills of the users which are Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills. The test generally lasts for 2 hours and 55 minutes and each of the four skills listed earlier have allotted durations out of this total time. The Listening skill test lasts a total of 40 minutes, the Reading test lasts for 60 minutes, the Writing test lasts for 60 minutes, and lastly, the Speaking test lasts for between 11-14 minutes.
The score range is 0-9 unlike its other popular “colleague” TOEFL which has the score range of 0-120. Did you know though that IELTS test results have only a validity period of 2 years after which the results become invalid? So, it is best written around the time it is to be used. The test is offered up to 48 times in a year and 4 times a year at local test centers in your country. If you wish to write this test, there are up to 1,200 test centers in 140 countries of the world, so make sure your country is part of them and find a local test center to register at.
It is estimated that up to 3 million people took the test in 2017 alone. There is no prerequisite to qualify to take this test. But it is mainly intended for non-native speakers of English language. The fees for IELTS differ depending on the country you are in. You can search the internet for “IELTS worldwide search” which is a tool you can use to search for a local center in your region. When you have found a local center to go to, you will see the test fee indicated as well. The IELTS testing system is used in over 140 countries around the globe and by 10,000 educational institutions and colleges. You can visit their website at www.ielts.org to know more.
IELTS is the only approved English proficiency test for the UK Visas and Immigration for visa applicants applying both from outside and inside the United Kingdom. In Australia, Australian immigration authorities also accept IELTS. They accept TOEFL and Pearson Test of English Academic as well. Most Australian, Canadian, Irish, European and New Zealand educational institutions accept IELTS. Also, globally lots of professional organizations accept and approve of IELTS; International English Language Testing System. The Canadian immigration system also accepts IELTS.
The scoring system ranges from Band 1 to Band 9. Where Band 1 represents a “non-user” and Band 9 represents “Expert User”. The Test Report Form is issued to the test takers with their score, there is no minimum score to pass IELTS. It is the institution the user is applying to that will set a minimum score or threshold. Also, IELTS advises institutions to not consider results older than 2 years. Why? Because the user might not be at that level of proficiency again.
It was in 2007 that IELTS first administered up to one million tests in a 12 month span. This made IELTS break the record as the most common and popular English proficiency test.
When IELTS (International English Language Testing System) first started in 1980 and throughout the 1980s, the turnout was low for the number of test takers. About 4,000 people took the test in 1981 and the figure rose to 10,000 in 1985. In fact, the initial name for IELTS was The English Language Testing Service. But when the redesign commenced due to low number of test takers, the name was subsequently changed to IELTS as we know it today. The redesign was completed and went live in 1989. Since then, test takers’ numbers have been rising. There have been series of revisions even after that time still.
The types of IELTS
The IELTS Academic version is for those that wish to study at tertiary level in a English speaking country or want to get registered professionally in the country. While the other type of IELTS which is IELTS General Training is for those that wish to migrate or work/train at a secondary school in an English speaking country. The main difference between the two types of IELTS versions is the purpose, structure and content. These two versions are also called Modules. There are four parts of the IELTS; International English Language Testing System like we stated earlier. And the two modules stated earlier have the same number of parts and allocated time.
Educational institutions and IELTS
About 51% of the IELTS test takers are using the test to seek admission to a tertiary institution in foreign countries. The minimum scores required by educational institutions all over the world vary. Top ranked universities in the US require high IELTS scores usually 7.0. Most educational institutions globally have minimum score requirements of between 6-7 score ranges. Canada for example, has most of its top ranked institutions requiring a minimum score of 6.5. Same goes for Australia’s top ranked universities too. In the UK, the University of Cambridge for instance, has a minimum IELTS score requirement of 7.0 and nothing less. Other top UK institutions have requirements that range mainly between 6.5 and 7.0.
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Conclusively, you can visit www.ielts.org for more detailed information on how to apply, fees, test centers and more. We sincerely hope that this article enlightened you a lot on what IELTS is and its purpose.