Importance of IELTS and a Good Score for Getting Admissions - Learn Ideal IELTS Scores

    Updated on: 01 Jul 2022


    What is IELTS?

    International English Language Testing System or IELTS is collectively managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. Its primary purpose is to measure the English language competency of people who wish to work or study in areas where English is used as the dominant means of communication. With an increasing number of people aiming for higher education abroad lately, IELTS has become one of the most popular English language assessment tests taken by study abroad aspirants. It has been reported that a total of 3.5 million tests were taken in the year 2018 alone. 
    IELTS is conducted for people seeking educational and job opportunities in English-speaking countries so that their ability to overcome the linguistic gap and undertake communication efficiently in a foreign country can be assessed. Though IELTS is not compulsory in many foreign universities for admissions, students must remember that not having taken IELTS may lessen their chances of getting a student VISA as the officials would not have proof of their competency in English. 
    Also, one must note that it is the only English Language Test accepted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa applicants who apply for universities both outside and within the UK. IELTS scores are accepted in most of the universities in the UK and Australia, most of the universities in Canada and around 3,400 institutions in the US along with thousands of institutions in other English speaking countries.

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    Why is an Ideal IELTS Score Important for Admissions? 

    Foreign Universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as professional universities, take into account IELTS scores to examine whether a person is capable of keeping up with the program’s medium of instruction, that is, English. Even many non-English speaking countries require IELTS scores for courses that are taught in English. Universities mainly fix minimum IELTS criteria that applicants need to fulfill in order to be eligible for admissions. Therefore, a student having an ideal IELTS score that is equal to or greater than the minimum criteria will have higher chances of making it to the university over those with an IELTS score lower than the minimum criteria. Even if one’s band score falls short of the minimum criteria by 0.5, one would be denied admissions. Hence, it is important for a student aspiring for admission in the university of his/her choice to check the minimum IELTS score under their admission requirements and aim to secure an IELTS score equal to or higher than the minimum score. From a student’s point of view, preparation for IELTS will help them to improve their English language skills and therefore, ace the selected program in an effective manner. Obtaining a good score will all the more increase the student’s confidence in the sense that he/she will be able to pursue the courses without any linguistic hurdles.   

    How is the IELTS Score Calculated? A Brief Summary

    There are two types of IELTS scores - Overall Band Scores and Sectional Band Scores. Sectional band scores are the scores obtained by a test-taker in per section, and the Overall Band Score is the average of all the sectional band scores. Test-takers are marked from 0 to 9 for both overall and sectional scores. Overall band scores are always rounded off to the next half or whole band. For example, an average of 6.25 will be rounded off to 6.5. For band scores, half results such as 6.5 are possible.
    To break it down further, within each test, you will gain a ‘raw score’ which is obtained by converting the number of answers you got right into band scores. The overall score or the “composite” score is the average of your individual IELTS scores and is meant to represent your overall English ability. For example, if you get band scores such as 3.5 in the listening test, 4.5 in reading, 6 in writing and 6.5 in speaking, to get the average, add all these scores and divide it by 4 which will give you 5.125. Upon rounding off, 5.0 becomes your overall IELTS band score. 

    IELTS also defines the level of performance for each band score in the form of band score descriptions given below in the table.

    IELTS Band Score Descriptors

      IELTS Band Score  

    Skill Level

    9

    Expert

    8

    Very good

    7

    Good

    6

    Competent

    5

    Modest

    4

    Limited

    3

    Extremely Limited

    2

    Intermittent

    1

      Did Not Attempt the Test  

     

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    What is the Ideal IELTS score for Top Universities?

    Now that we have got a detailed insight into the importance of an ideal IELTS score for admission into foreign universities and how the scores are calculated, let’s have a look at the minimum IELTS scores which top universities in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia require from the applicants for admissions into undergraduate and postgraduate courses -

    IELTS Minimum Requirement of Top Universities

    Countries

    Name of Institution

      World Rank  

      IELTS Minimum Requirement (UG)  

      IELTS Minimum Requirement (PG)  

      United States  

      Massachusetts Institute of Technology  

    4

    7.0

    7.0

    United States

    California Institute of Technology

    5

    7.0

    7.0

    United States

    Harvard University

    6

    7.0

    7.0

    UK

    Oxford University

    1

    7.0

    7.5

    UK

    University of Cambridge

    2

    7.0

    7.0

    UK

    Imperial College London

    9

    7.0

    7.0

    Canada

    University of Toronto

    21

    6.5

    7.0

    Canada

    University of British Columbia

    37

    6.5

    6.5

    Australia

    University of Melbourne

    32

    7.0

    7.0

    Australia

    Australian National University

    49

    6.5

    7.0

     

    How Can One Achieve a Good Score in the IELTS Exam?

    Now that we have discussed the importance of a high IELTS score for admission into the top universities for the world, let’s talk about how one can achieve one. Candidates can find general preparation tips as well as tips and tricks for each IELTS section.

     

     

    General IELTS Preparation Tips

    Start Early: The first and foremost preparation tip for the future IELTS takers is to start with their preparations in advance, preferably five to six months prior to the test. Regular practice and trying out different kinds of questions for each of the sections can indeed help you get a grip over the essentials of the test and habituate you to its pattern and requirements. 

    Practice Books: One of the most effective ways to prepare for IELTS is to attempt practice books. The practice books give you a primary overview of what to prepare, and since there is no one fixed syllabus for the exam, the candidate will have to build upon the general pattern and contents of the test themselves. Moreover, these practice books will prove highly beneficial for those candidates who choose self-study over external coaching. Some of the top coursebooks for IELTS are:

    • IELTS Tutor Kit
    • Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 
    • The Cambridge IELTS Course Workbook
    • Step Up to IELTS Personal Study Book with Answers 
    • Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student's Book with Answers and Audio CD 

    Practice IELTS Mock Tests: Candidates can also take IELTS mock tests and practice sample questions on the IELTS website. It is strongly advised to take practice tests and attempt sample papers from time to time since it not only helps them to check their progress but also helps them to gain a firm grip over the pattern of the test and as result confidence too. 

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    Section-wise IELTS Tips and Tricks

    To achieve a good overall band score in the IELTS, it is important for candidates to obtain good scores in each of the sections too. Each section has its own criteria of assessment and therefore requires its own way of preparation and approach. Listed below are some section-wise tips that candidates should follow to ace all the sections.

    Speaking Test

    • Keep the answers concise.
    • Students will be asked random questions on the day of the test. Hence, while preparing for the test, the candidate should focus on practicing speaking tests and enhancing their ability to speak eloquently and coherently instead of rote-learning speeches or lines. 
    • Clear the doubts regarding the question asking before proceeding to answer.
    • The candidates are advised to speak in English in their everyday communication with peers so as to develop a better hold over the language for the speaking test.

    Reading Test

    • It is important to distribute time between all questions wisely. The candidates will get 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, which is one and a half minutes for each question. However, it is necessary to devote more time to long passages and less time to easier and shorter questions. Hence, a candidate must take these factors into consideration while devising and executing a sound strategy to finish the paper on time while ensuring the accuracy of answers at the same time. 

    Writing Test

    • It is crucial to first organize one’s thoughts and strategies towards the writing tasks and then proceed than to dive into them immediately.
    • Revising is equally important, and the candidates are suggested to leave some time in the end to proofread their answers.

    Listening Test

    • Candidates are advised to read the whole question instead of only paying attention to key points or keywords in the question.
    • One must listen to the question properly instead of constantly writing.

    IELTS Performance Records

    IELTS is certainly not an easy test to crack. As we talk about the ideal IELTS scores and preparation tips to ace the exam, let’s also have a look at the general performance level of the IELTS test-takers. With the help of IELTS performance demographics of students for the year 2017 given below, one could gauge the difficulty level of the exam and conjecture on how easy/difficult it is to score above a certain mark. The following table has segregated the test-takers into different groups taking their reasons for attempting the test as the basis of distinction and then defined the percentage of people from each group scoring a specific mark.  

    IELTS Test Takers Performance 2017

    Reason

      <= 5.5  

    6

    6.5

    7

      >=7.5  

    For Employment

    20%

      18%  

      23%  

      22%  

    18%

      For Higher Education Extended Course (3 Months or more)  

    42%

    23%

    16%

    10%

    10%

    For Higher Education Short Course (3 Months or less)

    49%

    21%

    14%

    9%

    7%

    For Immigration

    26%

    19%

    17%

    16%

    23%

    For Other Education Purposes

    41%

    21%

    16%

    11%

    11%

    For Personal Reasons

    42%

    21%

    16%

    11%

    8%

    For Professional Registration (NOT Medical)

    14%

    13%

    20%

    23%

    31%

    For Registration as a Dentist

    30%

    16%

    15%

    16%

    23%

    For Registration as a Doctor

    7%

    8%

    16%

    24%

    44%

    For Registration as a Nurse (Including CGFNS)

    10%

    16%

    26%

    27%

    21%

    (Other)

    41%

    21%

    16%

    11%

    11%

     

    IELTS Mean Band Score India 

    Also, Indian IELTS takers can check the mean overall band and sectional scores obtained by Indian test-takers in the year 2017.  

      Country  

      Listening  

      Reading  

      Writing  

      Speaking  

      Overall  

    India

    6.3

    5.82

    5.77

    6.01

    6.04


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    Conclusion 

    IELTS is a crucial examination for those willing to study abroad, especially in the US, UK, Canadian, Australian universities. Achieving an ideal score, that is, at least 7 as both overall band score and sectional band score in the exam is important for students to enhance their chances of getting an admit in a foreign university of their own choice. But as can be inferred from the above tables, a small but considerable percentage of people (10% to 16%)  manage to score above the 6.5 band score. This implies that though scoring above 6.5 in the test is indeed a difficult task, but with consistent and systematic preparations, it is possible for one to score a high mark. Once you form a clear idea of the IELTS scoring mechanism, IELTS criteria for different universities, IELTS test patterns and the aforementioned section-wise preparation tips and tricks, it will be easier for you to maneuver through this test and achieve a reasonable score. Book your IELTS test now, mark the date of the test and start your preparations at a full-swing! 

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