International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English proficiency test. It consists of four sections - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
There are two formats of IELTS: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. There are two main difference between these two formats. For the reading section, the reading passages chosen for IELTS General Training would require applicants to read extracts from different sources of text, e.g. company handbooks, magazine. For the writing section, the nature of Task 1 for both formats are different - graph analysis/ summary for IELTS Academic and situational letter for IELTS General Training.
Test takers will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write their answers to a series of questions.
Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context
Recording 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities
Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment
Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture
Assessors will be looking for evidence of the ability of the test takers to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of the ability to follow the development of ideas.
The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.
This includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
General Training Reading
This includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines
Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for, test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. There are two tasks:
Task 1 - you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
Task 2 - you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.
General Training Writing
Topics are of general interest. There are two tasks:
Task 1 - you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
Task 2 - you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.
The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.
Part 1 – the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
Part 2 – you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 3 – you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.
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