How is the IELTS Test Designed?
The IELTS test measures your ability in four specific areas of proficiency:
There are two variations of the test: one designed for academia and the other designed for general training. The academic variation is designed for those who are looking to pursue higher education while general training is made for those who are looking to take advantage of work opportunities or immigrate to an English-speaking country.
What to Expect When Taking the IELTS Test
What can you expect when taking the IELTS test? Let’s take a look at how each section breaks down:
During the listening part of the IELTS test review, you’ll listen to four monologues and conversations and then answer a set of questions. Difficulty increases as you continue to listen in order to evaluate your actual level more easily.
The reading section evaluates your reading comprehension and includes three long passages with many different types of questions including multiple choice, short answer and matching.
The writing section concentrates on your ability to express yourself in written language. Both the academic and the general training versions of the test have two modules within the writing portion of the test.
With the academic model of the IELTS, you’ll describe what you see and then write an essay on a given topic. With the general training model, you’ll write a letter for the first part of the task and write an essay for the second part.
The speaking portion of the test involves a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner. At first, general questions are asked about you, your family, your work and your interests. The second part of the speaking test requires you to speak on a given topic for two minutes. The third part involves discussion based on the aforementioned topic, which in turn evaluates your ability to express and expand on your opinions and ideas that you’ve already presented.
How is the IELTS Graded?
There are nine different “bands” on the grading scale for the IELTS which range from non-user (band 1) all the way to expert user (band 9). Your overall score is based on an average of the scores in each section.
Here is how each band breaks down individually:
- Band 1 - Non-user: Barring the use of a few isolated words, this person does not have the ability to use the English language.
- Band 2 - Intermittent user: This person has a limited understanding of the language and can only use a few basic phrases.
- Band 3 - Extremely limited user: This person has great difficulty in understanding written and spoken English.
- Band 4 - Limited user: This person has basic competence in English.
- Band 5 - Modest user: This person can understand and communicate in most situations and has a partial command of the language, although their communication may be difficult.
- Band 6: Competent user: This person has an effective command of English in most situations although there may be occasional errors and misunderstandings.
- Band 7: Good user: This person has a good command of English and can handle themselves even in complex situations.
- Band 8: Very good user: This person has a very good command of English and can understand and express themselves fluently.
- Band 9: Expert user: This person has exceptional command of English and uses the language with accuracy, ease and sophistication.
Keep in mind, there are no pass or fail grades on the IELTS test. Different organizations and institutes may set their own minimum requirements depending on the reasoning behind the test.
How Does the IELTS Measure Readability?
In and of itself, the IELTS test does not measure readability. It assesses your ability to communicate and understand the English language through listening, reading, writing and speaking. That being said, the reading part of the IELTS test does indirectly measure your ability to read and comprehend what you’ve read. Keep in mind that the reading passages on the test can span a wide range of topics that range from scientific to general interest to academic and everything in between.
As a result, the passages are specially selected to showcase the types of texts you’re most likely to encounter in real-life situations and therefore assess your proficiency. The good news is that you can test the readability of your own texts using Originality.AI’s advanced readability tool. Try it now!