The International English Language Testing System or more commonly referred to as IELTS is an examination that measures the English language proficiency of candidates who wish to study or work in countries where English is used as the principal language of communication. The IELTS examination categories test-takers on a nine-band scale to accurately identify levels of proficiency, from non-users (band score 1) through to experts (band score 9).
IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Training
The IELTS examination is available in two versions for candidates. IELTS Academic is for candidates who are interested in applying for higher education or professional registration to countries that use English as their fundamental language of communication. The main purpose of the examination is to judge whether a candidate is ready to begin studying or training in the English language. Countries that widely recognize IELTS for studying are US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
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Whereas on the other hand, IELTS General Training is for aspirants who are looking to migrate to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, US and the UK or applying for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking environment. Here the examination focusses on basic survival skills of a candidate in a broad social and workplace environment. Candidates should be well informed that both the versions of the IELTS test are instrumental in providing a valid and accurate assessment of a candidates’ listening, reading, writing and speaking language skills.
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IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Test Format
As mentioned, the main purpose of the IELTS is to evaluate a candidates’ abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking in the English language in under three hours. The IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training examinations are divided into four parts, the test format of the Listening and Speaking Sections are similar to one another, however, the subject matter for the Reading and Writing Sections are different, depending on the test that a candidate opts for.
The Reading, Writing and Listening Sections of the IELTS Examination are held on the same day with no breaks in-between. However, the Speaking Section of the IELTS Examination can be completed a week prior to or after the other tests, depending on the availability of slots at the test center. The entire duration of the IELTS examination is for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Speaking (Common to both)
About the test
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The test format of the Speaking Section consists of a verbal interview between the candidate and the examiner. All speaking tests are recorded. The total duration of this section could last from 11-14 minutes per candidates. This section of the examination consists of three parts, each aimed to fulfill a specific function in terms of interaction pattern, task input, and candidates output. The main function of this section is to evaluate the candidates’ knowledge of spoken English.
The Speaking Section consists of three parts:
- Part 1: Here, a candidate would be asked general questions by the examiner on topics ranging from themselves to familiar topics such as interests, family, studies, and work. This interaction lasts for around 4-5 minutes.
- Part 2: For this segment, the candidate would be given a card containing a topic, he would have to speak on. The candidate would get a total of one minute to prepare on the topic and would have to speak for 2 minutes. The examiner would then ask questions on the same.
- Part 3: In this section, the examiner would probe the candidate further about the topic in Part 2. This particularly lasts for four to five minutes, where the candidate gets an opportunity to discuss abstract ideas and issues.
Check out the preparation tips on Speaking Section.
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