IELTS is International English Language Testing System is an international standardised test of English language proficiency .It is an exam intended for non-native English speakers. Its purpose is to find out what is your level of English. In IELTS your English language proficiency is calculated on a band score ranging  from 0 to 9   –   0 being the lowest and 9 the highest)

IELTS Band Scores represent the following:

9 Expert User
8 Very good 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 attempt the test

Usually you need to take IELTS if you are applying for a job/studies in a college or university in English-speaking country or if you are migrating to such country.

There are two modules – Academic and General Training. Both are graded using exactly the same criteria, so there is no difference in the level of English.Academic is for future students and General is for immigrants.

Academic Version:

The Academic Version is intended for those who want to enrol in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.

General Training Version:

The General Training Version is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.

Both modules cover all four language skills –listening, reading, writing and speaking. Everyonetakes the same Listening and Speaking tests. There are different Reading and Writing tests for the Academic and General Training modules.

The IELTS Routine:

The IELTS test consists of four parts in the following order

Listening test takes about 30 minutes – 20 minutes to listen to a tape and to answer questions on what you hear, and 10 minutes to transfer your answers to Answer Sheet.

Questions: There are 40 questions Questions
A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion,   sentence completion, short-answer questions .

Test Parts: There are 4 sections

Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency).

Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference).
Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project).

Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture).

Each section is heard once only.A variety of voices and native-speaker accents is used.

Skills assessed: A wide range of listening skills is assessed, including understanding of main ideas and specific factual information; recognising opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker; and following the development of an argument.

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark.Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Reading test takes 1 hour and your task is to read passages of text and answer questions according to what you have read.

Questions: There are 40 questions
A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying writer’s  views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-  chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

Test Parts: There are 3 sections
The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words

Academic Reading:
Each section contains one long text. Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest. Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided.

General Training Reading:
Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). Topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country.

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace
facilities, staff development and training).
Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest.
Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Skills assessed:

A wide range of reading skills is assessed, including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail; understanding inferences and implied meaning; recognising a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose; and following the development of an argument.

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale.Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Writing test takes also 1 hour and is divided into 2 sub-parts: 20 minutes to write a letter/report and 40 minutes to write an essay.

Tasks: There are 2 tasks.Candidates are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2

Test Parts: There are 2 parts
Academic Writing :
In Task 1, candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram  and are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in their  own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event .

In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem .The issues raised are of general interest to, suitable for and easily understood by candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. Responses to Task 1 and Task 2 should be written in a formal style .

General Training Writing :
In Task 1, candidates are presented with a situation and are asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may
be personal, semi-formal or formal in style .

In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay. Topics are of general interest.

Skills assessed:

In both tasks, candidates are assessed on their ability towrite a response which is appropriate in terms of content, the organisation of ideas, and the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar.

Academic Writing:
In Task 1, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to organise, present and possibly compare data; to describe the stages of a process or procedure; to describe an object or event or sequence of events; to explain how something works.

In Task 2, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to present a solution to a problem; to present and justify an opinion;
to compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.

General Training Writing:
In Task 1, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to engage in personal correspondence in order to: elicit and provide general factual information; express needs, wants, likes and dislikes; express opinions (views, complaints etc.)

In Task 2, candidates are assessed on their ability to provide general factual information; to outline a problem and present a solution; to present and possibly justify an opinion; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.

Marking:

Candidates are assessed on their performance on each task by certificated IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS  Writing Test Band Descriptors (task achievement/response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy). The public version of the band descriptors can be found at www.ielts.org/researchers/score_processing_and_reporting.aspx

Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score .Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Speaking test takes up to 15 minutes and consists of 3 parts: Personal Interview, Little Speech and a Discussion.

All the parts continue one after another, and only before the Speaking test you get a break.

Tasks: The Speaking test is a 3-part face-to-face oral interview with an examiner. The Speaking test is recorded.

Test Parts: There are 3 parts

Part 1 Introduction and interview (4-5 minutes)
The examiner introduces him/herself and asks the candidate to introduce him/herself and confirm his/her identity. The examiner asks the candidate  general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests.

Part 2 Individual long turn (3-4 minutes)
The examiner gives the candidate a task card which asks the candidate to talk about a particular topic and which includes points which the candidate can cover in their talk. The candidate is given 1 minute to prepare their talk, and is given a pencil and paper to make notes. The candidate talks for 1-2 minutes on the topic. The examiner then asks the candidate one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 Two-way discussion (4-5 minutes)
The examiner asks further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions give the candidate an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Skills assessed:

A wide range of speaking skills is assessed, including the ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences and situations by answering a range of questions; the ability to speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language and organising ideas coherently; and the ability to express and justify opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate about issues.

Marking:

Candidates are assessed on their performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS Speaking Test Band Descriptors (fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, pronunciation). The public version of the band descriptors can be found at www.ielts.org/researchers/score_processing_and_reporting.aspx .Scores are reported in whole and half bands.