Test Preparation

Mechanics of the IELTS Exam

Mechanics of the IELTS Exam

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What is IELTS? How to book a test? What is the registration fee? Who can apply? What is the ideal IELTS score? Here’s everything you want to know about IELTS!

GyanDhan

Yogender Panchal

Updated on: 27 Sep 2023

What is IELTS?
The expansion of IELTS is an International English Language Testing System. It is a standardized test that measures the proficiency of English mainly non- native English speakers. This test is managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. The number of IELTS takers has been rising every year. The conducting organization reported that 3.5 million IELTS tests were taken in the past year which is an indication of the importance of this test.

 


IELTS is necessary for anybody who plans to enroll in a university or join a business organization in English-speaking countries. IELTS is accepted by over 10,000 organizations in more than 140 countries. These include universities, schools, colleges and training organizations; government departments and immigration authorities; professional and industry associations; and multinational companies and employers.

IELTS has test centers in over 1600 locations in 140 countries/territories around the world. In India, the test is offered across 50 test locations and the test may be booked at any of the 34 IDP India IELTS Registration Centres.

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What are the Different Types of IELTS?

There are two types of IELTS – the General Training Test and the Academic Test. 
The General Training Test is normally taken by people who want to move abroad, get a job in an organization in an English-speaking country or just improve their English language skills.
The Academic Test, on the other hand, is relevant for students who want to gain admission in a university at both undergraduate or graduate levels. Most universities in the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada, and New Zealand recognize this test and fix a minimum IELTS score which students must fulfill to be eligible for admissions. This test seeks to inquire whether you have the necessary English language skills to handle an academic environment wherein the medium of instruction is English. It, therefore, goes without saying that you will need a higher level of English proficiency, implying a high IELTS score, to cope with a higher education environment.

Both the IELTS tests assess your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking. The Listening and Speaking sections are the same for both the tests, but the subject matter for the Reading and Writing sections for both the tests vary.

The test can be taken in two formats - 

  1. list items Paper-delivered Format 
  2. list items Computer-delivered Format

The test has been a paper-delivered format for more than 30 years, and it is only recently (August 2018) that a computer-delivered format has been introduced. It is important to note that the question pattern, format, level of difficulty and scoring for the computer-delivered format remain the same as those for the paper-based IELTS. It is just that you will be taking the Listening, Reading, and Writing tests on a computer.

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Where and When can you take the IELTS?

The IELTS can be taken in India in either the British Council test centers or IDP education centers. The British Council offers 50 different locations for taking the test, while IDP has an additional 50 locations where the test can be taken. The IELTS website may be used to find and book a test location near you. The Paper format is available four days a month, while the computer format is available practically every day. A computer-based format is a preferable option now because more test dates are available, and the results are processed much faster (5-7 days).
It must be noted that the computer format is not offered at all locations. You may check here for British Council locations and here for IDP education locations which offer the computer-delivered format.

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How do you Register for the IELTS?

The process to register for IELTS is rather simple and involves the following steps.

  • list items Go to the IELTS test center site. 
  • list items Choose the city of your choice. 
  • list items You will then be given a choice between a British Council or IDP education center. Depending on the center, you choose you will be redirected to either of their websites. 
  • list items You will then have to choose whether you want to take the test in a paper-based or Computer-based format (depending on availability in that city/town).
  • list items If you have chosen the British Council center, there are three stages to book your IELTS test Check the availability and select your test date (you will need to select a separate test date for your Speaking test). Create an account with the British Council Book and pay.
  • list items Check the availability and select your test date (you will need to select a separate test date for your Speaking test).
  • list items Create an account with the British Council
  • list items Book and pay.
  • list items If you have chosen the IDP education site, the process is similar, involving the given steps:  Choose the date and time you want to take the test. Fill up personal details along with an ID (only a Passport is valid). Select your test date and test city (you will see the seat availability status). Complete the online application form. Pay the test fee. Get instant seat booking and acknowledgment.
  • list items Choose the date and time you want to take the test.
  • list items Fill up personal details along with an ID (only a Passport is valid).
  • list items Select your test date and test city (you will see the seat availability status).
  • list items Complete the online application form.
  • list items Pay the test fee.
  • list items Get instant seat booking and acknowledgment.
  • list items Alternatively, you can also: Register in person at the nearest IDP branch. Register by courier and remit the test fee with the help of a Demand Draft or ICICI bank deposit/Allahabad Bank deposit slip. For detailed instructions on how to register and pay offline, please click on IDP Education or British Council.
  • list items Register in person at the nearest IDP branch.
  • list items Register by courier and remit the test fee with the help of a Demand Draft or ICICI bank deposit/Allahabad Bank deposit slip.
  • list items For detailed instructions on how to register and pay offline, please click on IDP Education or British Council.
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How to Pay the IELTS Fees?

The fees for the IELTS – both academic and general training - are Rs 13,250.
In the case of British Council Centers, the payment steps are 

  • list items You can choose to pay through the following methods: Pay online using Net Banking, eWallets or Card (Visa, Visa electron, Master Card) For offline payment, you can pay the cash at any ICICI bank branch by filling in the ICICI payment slip. Or you could make a payment a Demand Draft (DD) drawn in favour of ‘British Council’ payable at Delhi.
  • list items Pay online using Net Banking, eWallets or Card (Visa, Visa electron, Master Card)
  • list items For offline payment, you can pay the cash at any ICICI bank branch by filling in the ICICI payment slip.
  • list items Or you could make a payment a Demand Draft (DD) drawn in favour of ‘British Council’ payable at Delhi.

In the case of IDP Education Centers, the payment steps involved are:

  • list items You could pay through Credit/ Debit (Visa or Master) and Net banking
  • list items For offline payment, you can remit the payment through a Demand Draft drawn in favor of "IDP EDUCATION INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED, Payable at New Delhi” and made from the list of approved banks. Check the list of banks in the Terms & Conditions document here. 
  • list items Or candidates can deposit cash in any ICICI/Allahabad bank branch with the help of a customized deposit slip which they can download from the IELTS IDP India website or obtain from the nearest IELTS IDP branch office/ referral partner. Additionally, they must not forget to attach a customer copy of the deposit slip along with the IELTS application form.
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Can you Cancel IELTS or Change the Date of the Test?

Transferring the Date of the Test

If you wish to change the date of the test which has already been booked, you can submit a request for a test day transfer within five weeks before the test date after the deduction of cancellation/postponement fee. The new test date should be within three months of the original date. 
In cases of illness, a transfer is possible within five weeks of the test if an original medical certificate is provided within five working days of the test date, together with the Application form for postponement or cancellation of IELTS. 
The transfer fee is Rs 3300.

Cancelling Your IELTS Test

You can cancel your IELTS test up to five weeks before the test date.
The IELTS test fee is refundable, after the deduction of a cancellation/postponement fee, if an original medical certificate confirming illness and stating your inability to appear for the test on the scheduled test date is provided within five days of the test date, together with the Application form for postponement or cancellation of IELTS. The only evidence of serious illness will be considered and only original medical certificates in the local language or English are accepted. It is recommended to send the medical certificates through registered mail. Your requests to postpone or cancel your test due to the bereavement of a close family member or hardship/trauma will be accepted. However, valid evidence will have to be furnished to avail of the exemption.
The amount refunded will be Rs 9950.
You may use this form to cancel or reschedule the test for the British Council and this form for IDP.

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What are the IELTS Registration Requirements?

Once you have made the payment, the following documents must be sent to confirm the test booking:

  • list items If you book your test through the online registration system and paying online through Credit/Debit card, you do not need to submit any documents. 
  • list items If you book the test online but pay through cash at ICICI bank or through Demand Draft, you will have to send a copy of the IELTS test application acknowledgment that you will receive on email after registering online. If paying at ICICI Bank, you are required to upload the deposit slip duly stamped and acknowledged by the ICICI Bank in the Candidate Area of the Test Taker Portal.
  • list items Candidates who will book their test offline and pay either through cash at ICICI bank or through Demand Draft must send the completed IELTS application form.
  • list items Evidence of the payment (either the Demand Draft or the ‘acknowledged copy’ of the ICICI payment slip. If paying at ICICI Bank, candidates are required to upload the deposit slip duly stamped and acknowledged by the ICICI Bank in the Candidate Area of the Test Taker Portal.
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Who is Eligible to Take the IELTS?

IELTS can be taken by anyone irrespective of age, gender, race, nationality or religion, however,  it is not recommended for those under 16 years of age owing to its high difficulty level

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What is the IELTS Exam Pattern?

IELTS Paper Pattern

Listening

30 Minutes

It includes four recorded monologues and conversations

4 Sections-10 Questions Each

Reading

60 Minutes

Three long reading passages with tasks.
Texts can range from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical which include non-verbal material like diagrams, graphs, and illustrations texts (taken from books, journals, and newspapers)

40

Writing

60 Minutes

A writing task of at least 150 words where the candidate must summarize, describe or explain table, graph, chart or diagram, and another short essay task of at least 250 words

2

Speaking

11 to 14 Minutes

The face-to-face interview includes short questions, where you will have to speak at length about a familiar topic and have a structured discussion.

3

 

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What is the IELTS Scoring Process?

IELTS Listening Section
The IELTS Listening test has 40 questions. Each correct answer is given one mark. All the correct answers are added up, and the scores out of 40 are then converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. The conversion process is given below in the table. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

IELTS Listening Band Scores Scale

  Score / 40  

  39-40  

  37-38  

  35-36  

  32-34  

  30-31  

  26-29  

  23-25  

  18-22  

  16-17  

 

IELTS Reading Section

The IELTS Reading test has 40 questions. Each correct answer is awarded one mark. All the correct answers are added and the final score out of 40 is converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. The conversion process is given below in the table. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

IELTS Reading Band Scores Scale

  Score / 40  

  39-40  

  37-38  

  35-36  

  33-34  

  30-32  

  27-29  

  23-26  

  19-22  

  15-18  

 

IELTS Writing Section

Candidates are assessed and marked for the following criteria

  • list items Task Achievement (for Task 1)
  • list items Task Response (for Task 2)
  • list items Coherence and Cohesion
  • list items Lexical Resource
  • list items Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The criteria are given equal weightages and the total score on the task is the average of the marks scored in all the criteria

IELTS Speaking Section

Candidates are assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

  • list items Fluency and Coherence
  • list items Lexical Resource
  • list items Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • list items Pronunciation

Overall Band Score

The Overall Band Score is the average of the four component scores, rounded to the nearest whole or half band. The component scores are weighted equally.

Some examples on How the Rounding off of Overall Scores is Done:
 

  Test Taker A  

6.5

6.5

5

7

6.25

6.5

Test Taker B

4.0

3.5

4.0

4.0

3.875

4.0

Test Taker C

6.5

6.5

5.5

6.0

6.125

6.0

 

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What is an Ideal IELTS Score?

An ideal IELTS score is hard to predict. It depends on the university you are applying to. For example, Berkeley expects its undergraduate students to have a minimum score of 6.5, while it expects students applying for graduate studies to have 7.0.

A 6.0 is widely accepted by most universities, while the really “top” ranked ones will want a 7.0 at least.

However, if you want to check the minimum IELTS scores required by the top universities of Canada, click here.

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How can I Check IELTS Result

  • list items You can log in to the Test Taker Portal to preview your results. IELTS Results remain online for 28 days. However, these results are not an official confirmation of your performance. 
  • list items If you have taken the paper-based test, you will be able to preview your results by 12:00 noon after 13 calendar days from the test date.
  • list items If you have taken the computer-based test, you will be able to preview your results after five to seven calendar days from the test date.
  • list items A paper copy of your IELTS test score and the Test Report Form (TRF) will be sent to you via mail ten days after the result date for paper-based tests and five to seven days after a computer-delivered test.
  • list items The results can also be sent directly to the institutions you have specified.

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What is the Ideal Time to Take the IELTS?

The IELTS scores are valid for 2 years. So ideally, you can take the test about a year or 6 months before you plan to move abroad/ apply to universities.


Kickstart Your IELTS Prep Today!

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What is the Validity Period of the IELTS test? Does it expire?

IELTS scores are valid for two full years from the date of the test taken. The score of the IELTS is valid for two years from the date mentioned on the IELTS result form. This means that if you appear on 1 April 2019 for the IELTS exam, the IELTS score will be valid until March 31, 2021. The IELTS score expiry date is indicated on the IELTS certificate. Both IELTS General and the IELTS Academic Exam have the same validity period of 2 years. The score is valid across the globe in most universities in different countries. The IELTS result is declared within 13 days after the candidate takes the IELTS exam.
A candidate must appear for the IELTS exam again once the score expires. If a candidate applies for a 3-year degree course in a university abroad on the basis of the IELTS score, then by the time his/her degree is completed, his/her IELTS score validity will expire. And just in case, he/she needs to study further or wants to apply for work and if his/her English proficiency level needs a valid proof, then he/she will have to appear for the IELTS again to get admission into the next course or to get the job.
Besides that, it is imperative to know that once it has expired, the validity of the IELTS score cannot be extended further. A candidate can appear for the IELTS as many times as he wants, there is no limitation on that.