IELTS for further studies: Everything you need to know

IELTS for further studies: Everything you need to know

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IELTS for further studies: Everything you need to know
Binay Poudel

International English Language Testing System, or as most people call it, IELTS, is one of the most renowned English language proficiency tests. Many leading English-speaking countries and universities mandatorily demand IELTS as their admission criteria. Additionally, even non-English speaking countries require an IELTS score if they provide courses in the English language.  

Over 10,000 enterprises in the world accept IELTS scores. These enterprises are universities, colleges, and industries. 

English language experts from the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada prepare the test questions for IELTS. 

There are 4 modules-  speaking, listening, reading and writing- in any IELTS test. The writing, listening and reading modules of IELTS tests are carried out on the same day, whereas the speaking test is taken a few days (up to 7 days) before or after the other tests. 

Multiple test sessions are available so students can conveniently give their IELTS exam. Generally, students can pick from 4 fixed dates each month to give the IELTS exam (48 fixed dates to take the IELTS test). 

Types of IELTS test

IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test is aimed at students who want to pursue higher education in an English-speaking university or environment.  

IELTS General Training

The IELTS general training test is aimed at people who want to move to Canada, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia for immigration or work purposes.

 If a student is applying to study in an English-speaking school or college for education below degree level, he/ she can take IELTS General Training. 

Ways to take IELTS

IELTS on paper

The test-takers will have to sit at a desk and take the traditional listening, reading and writing tests.  The speaking test is taken face-to-face with the IELTS examiner. The overall test is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes long. 

IELTS on Computer

While taking IELTS on the computer, students will be taking listening, writing and reading modules on the computer. The question format and marking will pretty much be identical to paper-based IELTS. However, the listening module time in computer-based IELTS will be limited to 30 to 34 minutes. 

Like the paper-based IELTS, the speaking module is face-to-face with the allocated IELTS examiner.

Note: The official IELTS test centre takes paper-based and computer-based IELTS. 

Which countries accept IELTS? 

There are a vast number of institutions across different countries that accept IELTS. However, most students prefer Canada, Australia, the USA, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK. 

IELTS is one of the most popular and widely accepted English proficiency tests for these countries. 

These countries have their own cut-off IELTS scores as admission requirements depending upon the level and type of program. 

Generally, the IELTS band requirement set by most universities and colleges ranges from 6.0 to 7.0.  The requirement, however, may increase or decrease depending on the educational institute and course. 

US and Canadian universities are strict about the IELTS score requirements. Nonetheless, you can target some Australian and UK universities and colleges with a low IELTS score of 5.5 or 5.0. 

What skills do you need for the IELTS test?

While studying overseas, you should attend lectures. Understanding the lectures, participating in class/ peer discussions, preparing presentations, completing assignments, reading, and researching for knowledge more or less becomes your routine. 

The IELTS test inspects critical language skills so foreign countries and universities know your competency in all the language skills that you will require while studying or working in an English-speaking environment. 

The language skills you need for the IELTS test are: Listening, reading, speaking, and writing. 

IELTS test structure

Generally, the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. It has 4 parts which will be discussed below. The score of each part (listening, speaking, reading and writing) is in a half-band or a whole band. For instance: 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, etc. 

The final score/ IELTS band score is the average score obtained in the 4 sections. Again, it can be a half-band or a whole band.  

IELTS Listening

  • The IELTS listening section lasts 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer the answers.
  • The listening part consists of 4 recordings.
  • Recording 1 is an everyday conversation between two people. Recording 2 is a standard context monologue. Recording 3 is a multi-people (up to 4) conversation revolving around training or educational context. Recording 4 is an academic context monologue.
  • Each recording has 10 questions that you will have to answer. Thus, making 40 questions in the listening part of IELTS.
  • Each question in the listening part carries 1 mark.
  • The question formats are- multiple-choice, summary, sentence completion, matching, short-answer questions, and labelling.
  • Listening scores out of 40 are adjusted to the 9-band scale.

IELTS Reading

  • The IELTS Reading section lasts for 60 minutes
  • It consists of 3 long texts/ reading passages with 40 questions.
  • Passages are extracted from books, newspapers, magazines, and journals.
  • Includes reading for detail, main ideas, identifying the writer’s opinion, article’s purpose, and finding gist.
  • The question formats are- sentence completion, recognizing the writer’s position, matching features, headings, and sentence endings, table completion, summary completion, flow-chart completion, note completion, diagram label completion, identifying information, and short answer questions.
  • Each question in the reading section is worth 1 mark. The total reading mark scored out of 40 is adjusted to the 9-band scale.

IELTS Writing

  • 60 minutes long section
  • 2 writing tasks
  • Task 1 demands the IELTS test-takers write about a visual element: a chart, diagram, graph, or table.  The time allocated for task 1 is 20 minutes, and the word count should be at least 150.
  • In task 2, test takers should write a minimum 250-word essay for the mentioned argument or opinion. The time allocated for task 2 is 40 minutes.
  • Grammatically sound articles with coherent sentences and paragraphs score higher.
  • The range and appropriateness of vocabulary are valued in articles.
  • Plagiarism (copying from other sources) is strictly prohibited.
  • Task 2 has more marks weightage than task 1.

IELTS Speaking

  • The IELTS speaking section is 11 to 14 minutes long.
  • Part 1 is 4 to 5 minutes long and involves a basic introduction and interview.
  • Part 2 is a long turn in which test takers are given a task card. The task takers are given 1 minute to prepare for the particular topic in the task card. They are given 1 to 2 minutes to speak about the topic. Ultimately, test takers will be asked one or two questions regarding the topic.
  • Part 3 lasts for 4 to 5 minutes. In part 3, the test taker and examiner indulge in discussions in part 2 more abstractly or deeply, depending on the situation's demand.
  • Marking is based on coherent ideas, grammatical accuracy, fluency and clear pronunciation.
  • You must carry a national identity card or passport for the speaking test. Note that your identity will be thoroughly examined before you are permitted to enter the interview room.

IELTS score scale

The band score scale of IELTS is 0-9. 

So, what does the IELTS band score signify or tell about test-takers?

IELTS Band score Test taker Skill level
9 Expert user
8 Excellent user
7 Good user
6 Competent user
5 Modest user
4 Limited user
3 Extremely Limited User
2 Intermittent User
1 Non-user
0 Did not take/attempt a test










Who owns IELTS? 

Jointly owned by-

  1. British Council
  2. IDP: IELTS Australia
  3. Cambridge Assessment English

For how long is the IELTS result valid?

The IELTS result validity period is 2 years. IELTS is flexible since there are no restrictions on retaking IELTS. You can register and retake a test as soon as you are ready. 

IELTS test centres in Nepal

There are 6 IELTS centres in Nepal where you can register and give the IELTS test. These centres are across Nepalese cities: Kathmandu, Chitwan, Pokhara, Butwal, Biratnagar and Birtamod. 

Be informed that all 6 of these places conduct paper-based IELTS. Computer-based IELTS tests are conducted in Kathmandu only. 

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