IELTS stands for The International English Language Testing System and assesses the ability to communicate in English for people who want to work or study in an English speaking country such as the UK, Australia, America etc.
IELTS is one of the two main English tests in the world and it tests all four language skills, these being listening, reading, writing and speaking. All of these are needed to be able to communicate effectively. The tests are held in over 900 places across the world.
There are two versions of the test that people can choose between, the Academic version or the General Training version, all depending on what they need to take the test for. The Academic version tests the ability to communicate in English that is needed for academic or higher education environments. The General Training version tests English that is needed in an everyday environment in order for the candidate to complete work experience or training, this version is often a requirement for people that need to get a visa to live in an English speaking country. With both tests the listening and speaking tests are the same but the reading and writing tests differ. It is advised to check with your organisation so that you know what version of the test you need to take as in some cases both versions are accepted.
The listening test lasts for thirty minutes. It consists of four recorded conversations which the candidate will then have to answer questions on. The speaking test lasts from eleven to fourteen minutes. This part consists of four sections; in the first the candidate answers questions about themselves, in the second they talk about a particular topic and in the last they are then asked questions about this topic. The reading section lasts for an hour and consists of forty questions. The academic version includes three long texts which have been taken from books, journals and newspaper all suited for those entering university. The General Training version gets candidates to read from books, magazine, newspapers, advertisements etc. all of which you encounter in everyday life. The writing section is also an hour long and includes two tasks. The Academic versions tasks are to firstly describe the data that is shown to you in a graph or diagram, the second is to write an essay is response to a point of view, argument etc. The General Training tasks are to write a letter to someone and secondly to write an essay similar to the one in the academic version but this can be more informal.
IELTS is scored in bands ranking from 0 (did not attempt the test) all the way to 9 (expert user). A score is giving for each section, which is then averaged to give an overall score for the whole test. This way of scoring is understood and recognised worldwide. Your test results will be posted to you 13 days after you have taken the test. There is no pass or fail in IELTS, but instead gives you a band.
To register for IELTS you firstly have to find your nearest centre and choose a time and date that suits you. You need to sign an application form and remember to take a photocopy of your passport with you. Take your application form with your money to your test centre, you will then receive confirmation of your test and will be ready to sit it.
In order to prepare for your test you care able to try some free sample questions online, this way you will know what to expect when I come to you actually taking your test. Some centres even have workshops so that you can prepare.
IELTS is the most frequently used test, because of its high controls it is accepted by more than 9,000 organisations in over 135 countries.
For more information about studying for, applying to take and differentiating between various English Language Tests.