IELTS is one of the most popular international English language proficiency tests. If you are from non-English speaking countries, and plan on studying an undergraduate or postgraduate level course in the UK, then you need a high score in IELTS.
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. There are two types of IELTS tests, IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. If you want to study in a university or higher education course, then you should opt for the IELTS Academic test. Learn which IELTS test is right for you?
Achieving a high IELTS score takes understanding the IELTS and consistent preparation. Here is a step-by-step guide to improve your overall IELTS band score.
What skills do you need for the IELTS?
IELTS tests all four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. You should master all these skills equally well because you will need them all during your undergraduate or postgraduate level studies.
Let’s imagine your everyday routine. You will be attending lectures and should be able to understand what your professors say. You will have to read long specialised texts in a short time. You will be expected to produce written assignments and presentations. Participation in class discussions and group projects is an essential part of your learning experience and carries a lot of weight in your final score. So, you should not struggle with either speaking or listening comprehension.
Although IELTS is a British test, you are not required to master the British accent or spelling like native persons. IELTS accepts all major variants of native-speaker English, e.g. North American, British, Australian, etc. In class, your professors and peers will speak with quite diverse accents.
What IELTS score is required?
The overall score on the IELTS ranges between 1 and 9. The scale reflects your proficiency in English: 1 = non user; 5 = modest user; 7 = good user; 9 = expert user. You should aim to achieve a score of 6.5 or above for admissions to an undergraduate or postgraduate level programme taught in English. Individual universities and programmes have differing requirements.
The total IELTS test lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Listening part consists of 40 questions that you have to complete in 30 minutes. The Academic Reading part consists of 40 questions and you have 60 minutes. The Academic Writing part requires that you complete two writing tasks within 60 minutes. The Speaking part takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete and has three parts. During the speaking part you will have a face-to-face conversation with an examiner. Learn more in detail about IELTS Test format.
How to obtain a high IELTS score
Before you start preparing for the IELTS exam, in order to achieve a good score for admission to an undergraduate or postgraduate level programme, you should make sure that you are good in English.
The time taken to improve your overall level of English will differ depending on your starting level and intensity of study. Only after you have a good foundation in English listening, reading, writing and speaking, you should take the next step to getting familiar with the IELTS format.
Here are eleven essential steps that will help you achieve a high IELTS score:
- Start your preparation early, be consistent, and monitor your progress frequently.
- Master standard English grammar in a systematic way.
- Practise using your English skills in four ways – listening, speaking, reading and writing.
- Take every opportunity to communicate in English, orally and in writing.
- Enrich your vocabulary. This doesn’t happen overnight. Aim to learn at least 10 new words from different subject areas every day.
- Read longer texts specialised in different subject areas – management, finance, culture, history, sciences, etc.
- Listen to the news and watch documentaries on various topics in English.
- Practise talking with other English speakers about yourself – your hobbies, interests, everyday life, family, job, dreams and professional aspirations.
- When you have a solid foundation of English language knowledge and skills, join an IELTS course or work with a professional IELTS tutor.
- If you are not sure whether you are ready to start preparing for the IELTS exam, take a diagnostic test and get feedback from a professional instructor on your level and next steps.
- Towards the end of your IELTS preparation, start practising with full-length tests under realistic conditions for several weeks before the test date.
The aim of IELTS preparation is to make sure your command of the English language is good, and that you are ready for your undergraduate or postgraduate level studies in the UK. Universities will expect that you be equally good in all four skills (listening, reading, writing and speakin). So preparation to sit the IELTS is not only about obtaining a high score, but also improving your English language skills.