Usually, future to be international students will apply for IELTS test since it is required by many universities if you want to enrol in an English-taught programme.
However, even if a IELTS certificate is valid for only two years, the simple fact that you have taken your English skills at an advanced level will bring you numerous benefits later on as well if you plan to work in a multicultural environment. Regardless of your purpose or future interests, you might want to know more about the experience of taking an IELTS test in itself.
Read below and find out the basic steps on how to register, prepare and what should expect during all four IELTS examination parts.
Registration and deciding on the exam type
If you decide to take the test at a British Council office, their staff will usually take care of the whole registration process and fees for the exam. You will only have to fill in the application form and provide two recent passport-size photos.
The normal IELTS registration procedure begins with finding the nearest test centre, filling in the application form and sending it back by email or in person.
In some centres, you can also register through the online registration system, but you have to talk with the staff from your centre about the payment methods.
Consider the test date that suits you best carefully, taking into account the time you need for the exam preparation. In some countries, the British Council offers IELTS tests twice per month, while other centres around the world hold the exam even four times a month.
If you are interested in enrolling in a university from an English-speaking country or you want to attend an English-taught study programme, the IELTS Academic is better suited for you.
The IELTS General Training measures your level of English in everyday contexts and is more appropriate for visa applicants looking to immigrate and find a job in an English-speaking country.
Preparing for the IELTS exam
There are a lot of ways to prepare for the exam, from library materials to a wide range of online resources. You can attend exam preparation courses at an English language school that train you for all sections of the IELTS examination, or you can practice on your own, if you are a self-taught learner and want to save some money.
On the British Council website, for instance, you have access to free resources that will help you get a general idea about the examination. If you register for IELTS test via your local British Council, you can also get access to 30 more hours of free training.
The internet is full of examples for the IELTS writing section, so it’s a good idea to spend some time researching them. Practice reading, speaking and writing in English as much as you can with your family friends, colleagues and doing online exercises.
Before the examination
There is nothing to fear when it comes to the actual examination, as the organising staff tries to make the atmosphere as relaxed and easy-going as possible, which is the standard procedure for international examinations. Your local IELTS centre will send you information well in advance about the location, date and hour of the examination, along with some general rules of conduct.
Inside the exam room, you are allowed to only bring your identity card, pens and pencils and a bottle of water. Candidates enter the examination room in an alphabetical order. Organisers will take a photo of each candidate that will then be added to your language certificate.
Taking the test
The first day of the examination, you would take the listening, reading and writing sections of the exam.
Concentrate and pay attention during the listening exam because each audio is only played once and you won’t have headphones. You can take some short notes, and fill in the answers to the questions on the list.
Instructions for the reading section are clear and easy to follow. You would have to read some passages from an article, with questions requiring short answers, multiple choices or sentence completion. Try to write as many answers as possible directly on the answer sheet and less on the draft, to avoid running out of time.
The writing section has two parts and lasts about one hour. The first task can involve describing a graph, while the second would be more demanding, involving some creativity and debating. Again, try to write as much as possible directly on the test paper, but only after making a coherent argumentation plan in your mind and on the draft.
It’s best to also save a few minutes to check your writing for errors, including spelling.
There are typically three candidates in the room: one is examined, while the others are drafting their answers and preparing for their turn. While this section may seem similar to an oral examination at a university, you don’t need to be nervous because the examiner usually engages candidates in a friendly and relaxed discussion.
For instance, you may be asked what were your favourite subjects in school and why, and what places you’d like to visit, etc. The examiner records the whole exam and the speaking sample is sent to the IELTS administration for reviewing.
Receiving your final scores
You would normally receive your scores through email, within a couple of weeks.
After the test, you will see that you won’t consider the experience as stressful as expected. The confidence boost you will receive by taking the IELTS will help you with the application for a foreign university and during your studies as well.