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The IELTS: official english language test

What is the IELTS ?

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a language test similar to the TOEFL that precisely evaluates the candidate’s english ability. There are four test areas : speaking, written, listening and reading.

There are two IELTS tests : IELTS Academic and IELTS Generaly Training. The first is designed for students who want to study in an english speaking university, and in some cases for professionals who are joining an english speaking organization. The second test is for professionals who want to work abroad as well as immigrants to Australia, Canada, and New-Zealand.

Why take the IELTS ?

The IELTS is often a rrequirement for students and professionals who want to move to an english speaking country. For example, to get into an english or american university, students must have successfully taken an official english language test : the IELTS, the TOEFL or the Cambridge tests.

Taking an english language test is mandatory and your will not be able to confirm your place until the required score has been achieved.

The IELTS is a complete, reliable and recognized test. IELTS tests are designed with great care to maintain consistency from year to year.

Where and how to pass the test ?

It can be taken in a certified centre like the British Council. But to have the best chance and to have an unforgettable experience, it can also be prepared in a language school abroad. Study Experience is a partner to numerous language school that offer intensive IELTS preparation lessons. For more information on possible destinations, get in touch with a Study Experience team member.

What does the exam consist of ?

The exam, divided into four parts, takes place over the course of at a certified centre. In Paris, the test can be taken at the British Council. Results are published 13 days after the exam date – candidates are rated out of 9.0 points, with a score in each area and an overall average.

  • Listening 

Duration : 30 minutes

In this first section, candidates listne to four conversations or monologues in english and simultaneously answer a series of questions. The questions test the candidate’s ability to understand general ideas and detailed information ; the opinions of the speakers ; and the topic of a discussion.
Several accents and voices are used. Each section is repeated only once and deals with a different subject : an everyday scenario, a professional conversation, etc…

  • Reading –

Duration : 60 min

This part of the test consists of 40 questions. Candidates are are assessed on their ability to extract the core meaning of a text, to notice details, understand a logical argument, recognize the author’s opinions, his attitude and his goal. The IELTS Academic consists of three long texts that can either be descriptive, factual, discursive or analytical. All the texts are authentic extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, instruction manuals and more.

  • Writing –

Duration : 60 min

This test consists of two sections. The first requires the candidate to summarise or explain a graph, table or diagram. In the second part, candidates are required to write an essay in response to a certain point of view, argument or problem.

In both cases, candidates must deliver a coherent argument in a formal style.

  • Speaking –

Duration : ten minutes or so

The oral is divided into three sections. Candidates must first answer personal questions (family, studies, hobbies) ; then the examiner assigns them a subject that they have to speak about for two minutes and answer questions on ; and finally the examiner will ask further questions – on the same topic – with the intention of debating more abstract problems.

What IELTS score is required to get into university ?

Depending on the university and/or programme, the required IELTS score can vary. A university will typically ask for a 6.0 or 6.5 with no single grade under 6.0. Some programmes, like law, are more demanding and require a 7.0 or 7.5.

What to do if I didn’t get the required IELTS score ? 

As long as the minimum score isn’t obtained, you won’t be able to start your university course. However, many universities have created pre-sessional english programmes, offering intensive english lessons to prepare for the academic year. The duration of this course depends on the score you obtained, but plan for around 5 weeks of lessons in order to catch up half a point on the test.

L’IELTS requires serious preparation. It is a difficult exam that involves specific training. To maximise your chances to succeed, we recommend following a preparation course.

To find out more about the exam, and preparation programmes in France and abroad,  get in touch with a Study Experience team member.

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