With us you will prepare for IELTS certificate, but what is IELTS?
Certificate as the goal of language learning
When somebody decides to learn a language, it is logical that the main purpose is to learn and use it as much as possible. During the English learning classes, there are exercises and exams to find out about the language, but also about oneself and own proficiency level. The main question is, why should I take IELTS certificate? First, it a standardised test on a global scale. When you pass it, you will get a firmer (i.e. more objective) assessment of your language level than that one you had had in your language school. Second, IELTS is honoured by many employers and higher education providers. It is often stated as a requirement in an application. Third, even the preparations for taking the IELTS can develop the English language level in a good direction and broaden its horizons.
How does the IELTS certificate examination look like?
For taking the IELTS in the U.K., there is an online registration (British Council 2020) and one attempt (all four parts) costs up to £180. Only the exam with “Academic” designation has a valid result. There is a possibility to take the test in Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester (British Council 2020). The test must be paid for during the online registration in advance.
The exam is made of four parts: reading, writing, listening and speaking (IELTS 2020 Test Format). During the registration, you will be given a schedule of times for taking the test’s each part, written over a few days. Reading, writing and listening are taken on the same day. Usually, between speaking and other parts there are a few days of break (IELTS 2020a). During the taking of every IELTS part, you must carry all documents given to you during the signing up and passport (national ID card is NOT valid for taking the IELTS in the U.K.).
Three parts are taken as a written examination, when answers are written into answer sheets added to the exam papers. It is also possible to take the exam with the help of a computer (IELTS 2020c). When you take a written exam, take care of a neat handwriting, to make the marking clear for the examiners.
In the reading part, there are a few short texts, each about a diverse topic. There are exercises with open and closed types of answers (IELTS 2020a). In the writing part, you must write two short essays (IELTS 2020a). There is some space in the notebook for writing drafts of the answers (it is useful to write a plan of the answer, but it is difficult to keep up with the time). In the listening part, you have answer to short records, which are played ONLY ONCE, with no repetitions. This causes, however, that the content of the records is not complicated.
All these three parts are taken in an examination centre along the other people taking the test. Taking the oral part is completely different. First, you will be given an individual time slot for the conversation. When you go to the examination centre, you will pose for a photograph which will be printed on your IELTS certificate. After that, you will wait in the centre until called for the examination in a small room. The exam happens only between you and the examiner, and it also involves a few tasks about selected issues (IELTS 2020a). The exam is recorded and the voice recorder laying on the desk can be sometimes intimidating. The best what to do is to think that this recorder can be helpful, because it can be used as a evidence for any appeals after the exam. Before the exam, it is also valuable to practice clear speech, to help the examiner understand you.
The listening part takes half an hour, the reading and writing part take one hour each, and the speaking part 11-14 minutes (IELTS 2020a).
How can you prepare for the test?
First, you need to start preparing early and systematically. The test has defined types of tasks in each part (IELTS.org 2020a), so this means you can practice them many times, to answer them more confident. The topics of the tasks are different in every year, but usually they regard issues which are not too complicated to be a basis for an exam. In the beginning, it is good to read and solve tests from past years, which are available on the Internet (Ielts-exam.net 2020, British Council 2020a). Some of them can be approached calmly, but some of them should be solved with a clock, to simulate the real exam. Furthermore, there are numerous websites which offer help with learning grammar, vocabulary and phrases. In case of speaking part, you can practice with your English teacher, language course colleagues or other English-speaking friends.
What does the score mean and what can you do with the certificate?
You will receive your test report by a paper post. It is made of a few marks – one Overall Band Score and four additional scores for reading, listening, speaking and writing. The scale ranges from 0 (the worst) to 9 (the best). The employers and higher education providers usually require Band Score between 6 and 7.
Your IELTS test report is honoured for two years (IELTS 2020b). You can retake it later or earn other language qualifications through work experience or studying.