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Is IELTS the exam for you?

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. In other words, it is a highly useful exam that is designed to help you fulfil your dreams of studying, working or living abroad.

Why take IELTS?

IELTS is an internationally recognised qualification which can open doors to living in English-speaking countries such as the UK, Australia, the USA or Canada.  It is recognised by top universities within these countries as well as governments and employers. Being an academic qualification, if you are planning to study in the UK or another English speaking country, it can help you to prepare for the world of academia.

The Exam

The exam consists of four parts: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.

The speaking test, which takes around 15 minutes, has 3 parts. The first part is like a conversation and the examiner will ask you questions about yourself and everyday topics such as hobbies, food or friends.  This should help you to get warmed up for the next part which is a single- turn talk about a topic given to you on a cue-card.  Part 3 is a discussion based on the same topic in which you need to express opinions and give examples.

The listening also has 4 parts and takes around 40 minutes.  It is made up of a conversation and an individual talk in a social setting and a conversation and an individual talk in an academic setting.  You only get to hear each part once!

For the reading exam, you need to answer 40 questions about 3 texts and you have 1 hour.  There are various questions types such as True or False, summary completion or multiple choice.

There are two parts in the writing test and you have 1 hour in total. Writing part 1 is 150 words and should take about 20 minutes. The task here is to describe and compare graphs, tables or processes.  Writing part two is a discussion essay of 250 words and takes around 40 minutes.

Exam Top Tips!

Although IELTS is a test of English proficiency, you also need to know the requirements of the exam inside out in order to be able to get the score you need. That is why it’s important to study an IELTS preparation course where you get great tips and techniques such as the following:

  • Showing a range of vocabulary is crucial so make sure you create a list of common IELTS/academic vocabulary/collocations as you study. This will also help you understand texts faster.
  • Timing is key in this exam, so do practice papers at home and time yourself.
  • Get to know common synonyms, this will help with reading and listening.
  • Remember to plan your essay before you start writing. This will help you to have a clear, easy to follow structure.
  • Before you hear the listening, use the time to read through the questions, underline keywords and predict what you will hear.
  • In the speaking test, it’s important to show what you are capable of, so remember to use a variety of grammatical structures and uncommon words and phrases.
  • Reading is often the hardest part, so practice reading authentic texts like newspapers or magazine articles at home, not just IELTS texts.

Does this sound like the exam for you? Contact our Academic Team for more information: and join one of our exam preparation courses to help you achieve your best IELTS result.

By Emily F - EP Teacher