IELTS Test Structure – A Brief Overview
The IELTS exam is the most widely accepted measure of an individual’s proficiency in the English language. This test is a non-negotiable requirement for people who wish to visit a country where English is the most widely spoken language. This visit might be for migration purposes, work experience, professional training or higher education. Through the IELTS exam, relevant authorities are able to confirm that a person’s hold over the language will be strong enough so as to facilitate his stay in that country rather than inhibit it. Thetest structure of the IELTS is such that it is able to fully assess an individual’s understanding of the English language and whether it is of a level that will only enrich that individual’s stay in a foreign country.On the basis of purpose of visit, the exam is divided into two modules – Academic and General Training – on the basis of which thetest structure varies. The module you will be required to test in depends on this criterion alone. For candidates who are seeking admission in foreign universities or going abroad for purposes of professional training, the Academic module is relevant. The General Training module is taken by those individuals who are applying for migration or for general purpose work training. TheIELTS test is divided into four sections, namely Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. However, only the first two sections are different for the two modules.Reading SectionThe Reading section of the exam tests a person’s reading skills by way of reading comprehension exercises. In the Academic module of the exam, this section consists of long reading passages or texts which are based on academic topics. In the General Training module, this section is divided into three sub-sections. The first two sub-sections have a variety of short texts while the last sub-section is one long text on a general topic. On the basis of reading the various passages, you will be asked to answer questions (40 in total) to test your ability to synthesize information as well as identify the main points of a given piece of text. The questions are divided into three main categories – multiple choices, yes/no and fill in the blanks.Writing SectionThis section of the exam consists of two tasks. In the General Training Module, the first task asks you to write a letter. This could be a formal letter, semi-formal or informal letter. In the Academic module, you will be provided with a picture/table/diagram/chart of which you are supposed to write a description. The second task is the same for both modules and consists of an essay. This section tests a candidate’s written communication skills and whether he can convey thoughts, ideas and information in English.Listening SectionThe Listening section of the exam is the same for both modules. This section has forty questions, like the Reading section, and the question types are the same as well. A candidate is required to answer questions on the basis of hearing four recordings which are basically conversations between two-three people or monologues – all taking place in English. This section tests a candidate’s ability to understand spoken English, to identify the main topic being discussed and to infer the speaker’s attitudes and opinions from his tone. To help provide a fair result to candidates from different countries with varying accents, an effort is made to remove all sorts of accent from the recordings.Speaking SectionThis section consists of a personal interview in which a person’s English speaking skills are tested. An individual’s ability to carry on a conversation in the language while clearly expressing his ideas, opinions as well as relevant information is tested. In the first part of the interview, the candidate is made to give his introduction. In the second part, he is given a topic on which he has to speak. The third part of the interview consists of a follow up conversation on the basis of this topic.For any other information on the IELTS test structure, test aspirants can visit the official website of IELTS – www.ielts.org.