What You Need to Know about IELTS
In order for you to enrol in any of the UK universities or colleges, you should have a proof of English language proficiency, unless you are a native English speaker. The most popular test taken for this purpose is IELTS (International English Language Testing System). More than 2.5 million people take the test annually, so they can study or work in UK, US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. There is a choice between General Training Module and Academic Module, however, you need the latter one for University enrolment.
The test can be taken in more than 140 countries, and you should choose the closest one to you among over 1100 test locations, most of them run by the British Council, IELTS Australia, or universities and language schools. Price of the IELTS testing is around GBP 160-200 depending on the country, and you can take it as many times as you want. There is no minimum score needed for passing, your score can range between 0 (if you haven’t attempted the test) and 9 (expert user), but be aware that different institutions require certain score to be achieved for a student to be able to follow the lectures. Top UK universities require minimum score of 6.5-7.0.
Test has four sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Total time of the test is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. In most cases, all parts are taken on the same day, although the speaking part is sometimes on the other day, depending on the test centre.
Listening – lasts for 30 minutes and includes four recordings of Native English speakers, and it should demonstrate your ability to understand main ideas and attitudes of the speakers.
Reading – takes 60 minutes to complete, and has 40 questions related to a few texts taken from books, journals or newspapers, which should prove your comprehension.
Writing – lasts for 60 minutes. In Academic test, there are two tasks required: to describe or explain data from the given text, and to write an essay on a given topic in formal style.
Speaking – takes between 11 and 14 minutes and consist of one on one interview with an examiner, who will ask you general questions about you and your life in first part, then you’ll be given a card with a topic to talk up to two minutes with additional few questions, and the third part are few more questions about the topic from part 2, but with more abstract ideas and issues.
Your test score will have validity for two years, after which you’ll have to redo the test.