The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most widely used English language tests around the world.
It comprises of subtests that involve reading, writing, listening as well as speaking.
This test is usually designed for people who want to work or study in an English-speaking environment.
The test fee is usually around $200, but it is best advised to check specific test centers to determine the cost in your local currency.
Prospective undergraduates or graduate students applying to universities in English-speaking countries or rather to programs in which English is the official language of communication/instruction will likely be asked to take the IELTS Academic test or the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test.
You should contact your school in order to find out which of the two tests is right for you or you can check the IETLS Global Recognition System for your school’s name.
If you, as an international student, need an IELTS score, here are seven things you need to know before taking the test.
Why You Should Take the IELTS Test
The IELTS, jointly owned by the British Council, Cambridge English Assessment and IDP: IELTS Australia, is one of the most preferred English proficiency tests for universities in Britain, Australia, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.
For example, University College London approves a number of tests but states on its website that the IELTS test is preferred.
The test is; as well, accepted by a large number of schools in the U.S. and by English language programs in many other countries.
What Score You Need to Get
IELTS tests give a score on a scale of 1-9 for each part of the test.
The average from the four subsets (reading, writing, listening and speaking) is used to calculate what is referred to as the overall band score.
To determine the score needed for university admission, you can look the different band scores that are required by the various universities as published on the IELTS website, or you can simply consult the university you would like to attend.
For example, the University of Oxford usually requires an overall IELTS score of 7.0 while most American Universities will accept scores in the range of 5.0-6.0.
How You Need to Prepare
The best way to prepare for an IELTS test is by actually taking it.
This will give you the experience of the exam and you get to know your current level of prowess, helping you determine your target score in the available time.
Prepare yourself also for reading and listening sections using apps such as IELTS Skills or TOEFL TPO HD which both provide hours of test simulations for IELTS tests.
Even Non-native Speakers can Get a Band 9 on IELTS
Contrary to the myth that flies around that only native English speakers can score a band 9 on an IELTS test.
The band 9 rating is described by IELTS as ‘Expert User’ and anyone who is an excellent English speaker can get a band 9.
It is actually not the norm that all native English speakers would score a band 9 even on spoken English.
How to Improve Your IELTS Score
IETLS tests are not about testing how well you know the test.
The only sure way to improve on your IELTS score, once you are familiar with the test, is to improve your English in all the four macro skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing.
Listening is actually one of the most important macro skills.
So, practice it a lot.
You Do Not Need a Long List of Vocabulary to Pass an IELTS Test
Usage of vocabulary is important in taking IELTS test, but more important is how you use the vocabulary in utmost accuracy and appropriateness.
IETLS tests involve various common topics such as environment, education and culture.
You can look through IELTS course books to have an idea of what kind of vocabulary to use where.
Taking the IELTS Test in Your Country May Get You a Better Score
Taking the IELTS score in your hometown may only contribute to you feeling more comfortable around familiar surroundings.
However, you should note that the test does not become any easier despite the location you decide to take it from.
The test are universally standardized and are marked by highly trained and experienced examiners for utmost uniformity.