Prove your English language proficiency through IELTS

Clear IELTS to immigrate, study or work abroad
By Aaron Dmello

31-05-2021

English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. There are more than 300 million users of this language worldwide. The language is also considered as an official language by many countries even though for some, it is a non-native tongue.

English is the native language of many developed countries like the USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and others. Hence, anyone planning to visit developed countries for the purpose of studying, working, or immigration is expected to show proof of their proficiency in English. The requirement to communicate effectively in English is warranted to take full benefits of the facilities the countries provide.

The requirement to prove one’s ability to communicate in English is naturally required in a native English-speaking country because it will provide a wide range of benefits. Being able to communicate in the native language will help an individual get integrated into the community. Besides, it’s an essential requirement to capitalize on job opportunities.

Given the requirement to show one’s ability to communicate effectively in English, candidates planning to work, study or immigrate abroad need to clear any one English proficiency tests.

One of the most prominent examinations used to assist people to relocate to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). IELTS is recognized worldwide by numerous universities, schools, employers, and immigration bodies.

IELTS essentially tests an individual’s ability to read, speak, listen, understand and write in the English language. Your ability to effectively understand and communicate in English is reflected by how high you score in your IELTS.

However, each university, workplace, institution, or immigration body has its own requirements concerning IELTS scores. Hence, the scores you may need for work or study will depend on the country you are planning to go to.

IELTS value proposition

IELTS tests check an individual’s ability to Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking the English language. The tests have been designed and developed by language specialists from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

The tests are developed to provide a fair and accurate assessment of the candidate’s proficiency in the English language. Its content reflects day-to-day situations and the test is fair and unbiased towards all candidates irrespective of their backgrounds.

Two types of IELTS

IELTS examinations are broken into two types: General Training and Academic. The difference between the two types of exams is that the subject matter for the writing and reading section differ. The listening and speaking components, however, are the same for both types.

Take IELTS for immigration

ILETs grades are accepted as English language proficiency proof for migration by countries like UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, each country has its own IELTS requirement and the required scores may vary depending on your type of visa. The IELTS score requirements of the countries have been mentioned below.

Australia

The Australian Department of Home Affairs accepts IELTS scores for Permanent Residency in Australia and for many other visa categories. Some Australian professional organisations and accrediting bodies will require the scores as well. The minimum IELTS score for Australian immigration is 6.

Canada

Candidates can get a work visa, professional recognition, or permanent residency in Canada by submitting proof of proficiency in the English language. However, the minimum score requirement varies depending upon the individual applicant’s circumstances. Hence, applicants are advised to approach Canadian immigration to get clarity on the minimum IELTS score requirement.

New Zealand

Most of the visas provided by Immigration New Zealand demand IELTS scores as proof for English language proficiency and the minimum IELTS score accepted by New Zealand immigration is 6.5.

United Kingdom

An applicant for ‘long residence’ or ‘leave to remain in the UK will need to show evidence of one’s ability to communicate effectively in English. UK immigration requires an IELTS minimum score from 4 to 7.

Take IELTS for Studying Abroad

Millions of students study abroad every year and most of them pursue their education in English-speaking countries like the US, UK, and Australia. IELTS scores are accepted by more than 10k education providers worldwide and IELTS grades are also a requirement in non-English speaking countries if the course is taught in English.

IELTS exams for the purpose of studying abroad can be divided into two types, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The type of test suited for an applicant will depend on what purpose he is visiting an English-speaking country and also the requirement of the purpose, be it to study, work or immigrate. Generally, IELTS Academic is recommended for candidates planning to study in an English-speaking country while the IELTS General Training test is for applicants planning to work or immigrate to an English-speaking country.

IELTS Academic is suited for students who are planning to study Higher Education/Postgraduate education in an English-speaking environment or university. IELTS Academic can also be taken for the purpose of professional registration.

IELTS General Training test is designed for candidates aiming to pursue below degree level education which includes an English-speaking college or school. This test deals more with the everyday English language skill and individual requirements at the workplace or in a social environment. IELTS General Training is a requirement for migration to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Take IELTS to work abroad

As mentioned earlier, English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, and clearing an IELTS test with a score of 6 or above will greatly improve your opportunities to gain employment. By achieving an acceptable IELTS score, you will prove to a potential employer that you are dedicated to living and working in the country.

Industries that ask for IELTS

IELTS grades are accepted by many registration bodies that represent the Health Care professions like nursing, medicine, and pharmacy. Meanwhile, IELTS results are required in some countries for accounting, engineering, law, and veterinary practice. IELTS grades are also required by some employers from a wide range of areas like construction, energy, finance, tourism, government, and law.

Professional registration

Some native English-speaking countries require international graduates and applicants seeking professional registration to submit proof of English language proficiency. The individual requirements of proficiency in the language will vary between country, jurisdiction, profession and organization and hence, applicants are advised to pre-determine what IELTS band score and test type (Academic or General Training) they require for their individual professional registration bodies.

IELTS requirement for vocational training

IELTS General Training test is recommended for vocational training in areas like construction, tourism, hospitality, and leisure industries. This test measures applicant`s English language proficiency in an everyday context in social and workplace environments.

IELTS Test Format

Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS are the two categories of IELTS examinations. The main distinction between the two is that the Reading and Writing examinations are different. The Speaking and Listening assessments remain unchanged.

It should be remembered that all IELTS examinations include the Reading, Writing, and Listening components completed on the same day with no gaps in between. The Speaking test, on the other hand, can be performed a week before or after the other examinations. The whole duration of the examination is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The IELTS testing format for Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking are as follows.

Listening Test Format

The IELTS listening examination is intended to examine a wide variety of listening abilities, including understanding core points, specific factual information, recognizing the purpose, attitude, and opinions of the speaker, and the capability to follow the development of an argument.

During the test, the applicant will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write answers to a series of questions. The four different recordings are

  • A discussion between two individuals taking place in an everyday social context.
  • A monologue placed in an everyday social context, such as a speech on local facilities.
  • A conversation between and up to four people set in an educational or training context like a student discussing an assignment with a university tutor
  • A monologue on an academic subject which could be a university lecture

The questions asked following the listening of the recordings will come from a variety of types chosen from any of the following mentioned patterns including multiple-choice, sentence completion, matching, table/ summary completion/form/ flow-chart/ note, plan/ diagram labeling/map.

IELTS Listening testis of 30 minutes with an extra 10 minutes to transfer answers to your answer sheet from your question booklet. The test has 40 questions bearing one mark each and a total score out of 40 marks is converted to the IELTS 9-band scale reported in whole and half bands.

Reading Test Format

IELTS reading test is calibrated to assess a wide range of reading skills of the candidate which will include how well he can read for detail, recognize a writer’s opinions, attitudes, and purpose, read for the general sense of a passage, understand inferences and implied meaning, read for the main ideas and follow the development of an argument.

For Academic Reading

During the test, the applicant will be provided with three long texts ranging from discursive and analytical to descriptive and factual. The excerpts may be taken from newspapers, journals, books, and magazines. Although they have been selected for a non-specialist audience, they are nonetheless appropriate for individuals seeking professional registration or entering university courses.

For General Training

During the test, the candidates will be given extracts from materials one is likely to come across in an English-speaking environment on a daily basis.  The content can be company handbooks and guidelines, newspapers, books, advertisements, notices, and magazines.

The types of questions asked in either type will include filling gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, complete sentences, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, answer multiple-choice questions and give short answers to open questions.

IELTS reading test is for 60 minutes including the transfer time. The test is made of 40 questions, each carrying one mark for the correct answer. The final scores out of 40 will be converted to the IELTS 9-band scale reported in whole and half bands.

Writing Test Format

IELTS writing test assesses an extensive range of writing skills including the candidate`s ability to organize ideas, write a response appropriately and use a range of vocabulary and grammar correctly.

For Academic Writing

The IELTS Academic Writing examination is segregated into two tasks that must be completed in a formal way.

For Task 1, a graph, table, chart or diagram will be provided to the candidate and are required to describe, summarize or explain the information in their own words

The test may require the candidates to describe the stages of a process or how something works, describe and explain data, or describe an event or an object.

For Task 2, the candidates will have to respond to an argument, problem, or point of view with an essay.

For General Training

The IELTS General Training Writing Test is also divided into two tasks, each of which can be replied to in a personal, semi-formal, or formal style, depending on the task.

For Task 1, the candidates will be given a situation and must write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter in question can be written in a personal, semi-formal, or formal style.

For Task 2, the candidates will have to respond to an argument, problem, or point of view with an essay and the language can be used in a fairly personal style.

Basically, both the types of tests are divided into two tasks and require the applicants to answer Task 1 with at least 150 words and Task 2 with 250 words at least.

IELTS Writing Test is for 60 minutes made of 2 questions. The second question bears more marks and hence, candidates are advised to finish Task 1 in 20 minutes and spend the remaining 40 minutes on Task 2. The final score will be determined by a certificated IELTS examiner and reported in whole and half bands.

Speaking Test Format

IELTS Speaking Test will have the candidate speaking to a certified examiner. This is an interactive test close to a real-life situation. The test is recorded and different types of accents may be used during the test. The test remains the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

IELTS Speaking Test aims to assess how well the applicants can

  • Communicate opinions and information on common experiences and everyday topics
  • Organize their ideas coherently
  • Analyze, speculate and discuss issues
  • Speak on a given topic with the correct use of language
  • Express and justify their opinions
  • IELTS Speaking Test is divided into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Part 1 of the test is designed to relax and talk naturally.

  • The test will have the examiner introduce him or herself, ask you to introduce yourself, and confirm your identity.
  • The examiner will then ask general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies, and interests.

Part 2 will involve the examiner presenting the applicant with a task card that instructs the candidate to speak about a certain topic and includes points to include in their talk.

  • Candidates will have one minute to prepare and make notes before speaking for 1-2 minutes on the assigned topic.
  • It is vital that the candidate keeps talking since they will not be interrupted during the allotted speaking time.
  • Next, the examiner will ask a question or two on the same topic

During Part 3 of the test, the examiner will pose further questions connected to the topic of Part 2 and the aim is to provide an opportunity for the applicant to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

IELTS Speaking Test is a short one lasting 11-14 minutes. The grading is done by certificated IELTS examiners based on the candidate`s performance throughout the test. The test is marked on four criteria including grammatical range and accuracy, fluency and coherence, lexical resource, and pronunciation. The scores are reported in whole and half bands.

IELTS fee and eligibility

  • The International English Language Testing System has no age limit but is not recommended for candidates below the age of 16 years. However, they can nonetheless take the test if they did like to.
  • IELTS does not require a minimum educational qualification as per the conducting bodies but since it is in the English language, one may need to know the language before attempting the test for proficiency.
  • Anyone, regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion, or age, can take the IELTS.
  • IELTS Fee is Rs 14,000 /- for registrations from 1st-Apr-2020.