The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is one of the two major English-language tests that are recognized the world over. It is also the world’s most popular English language test and every year more than two million people pass IELTS.
Wondering what the exam is used for…well, taking the International English Language test can help you live, study and work anywhere in the world.
According to reports, more than 9,000 organisations in 140 countries around the world have accepted the International English Language Testing System, including government, academic and employment institutions.
IELTS is the only English language test accepted for immigration purposes by all countries that require one.
If you are in Nigeria and you are applying for a visa to move to or stay in the UK, IELTS is on the list of approved secure English Language Tests.
Brief History of International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) was formerly known as English Language Testing Service (ELTS). The system was launched in 1980 by Cambridge English Language Assessment and the British Council.
The system had an innovative format, which reflected changes in language learning and teaching, including the growth in communicative language learning and English for specific purposes. The test tasks were intended to reflect language usage in the real world.
The International English Language Testing System approach is recognized as being fair, reliable. The test is valid for all candidates, whatever their nationality, cultural background, gender or special needs.
IELTS test questions are developed by a network known as the IELTS item writers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US. They are based on real-life sources (for example, advertisements, books, newspapers and company policies), so ensuring that they are always fit for purpose.
Who are the Owners of IELTS?
IELTS is owned by a global partnership of education and language experts including the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the Cambridge English Language Assessment. These bodies are dedicated to academic excellence, cultural understanding, student recruitment and creating success worldwide.
International English Language Testing System – Test Structure
The International English language testing system is designed to reflect how you will use English while studying, working, and playing if you find yourself abroad.
The test assesses all your skills in the English language. It is subdivided into four major parts which include Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. IELTS results are graded on the unique IELTS 9-band scale.
IELTS also has two modules viz – The General Module and the Academic Module. The modules are explained below:
- The General Module is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.
- The Academic module is intended for those who want to enrol in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
If you are looking for certification in the English Language, you can take either IELTS Academic or IELTS General Module – depending on the organization you are applying to and your plans for the future.
IELTS Test Duration
Listening – Duration 30 Minutes
IELTS listening test lasts for about 30 minutes. It consists of four recorded sections, played on cassette tape, in order of increasing difficulty. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. These include questions which test your ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, ability to understand the purpose of an utterance and the ability to follow the development of ideas. A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used and the test is played once only, and the questions for each section must be answered while listening, although time is given for students to check their answers.
Reading – Duration 60 Minutes
Reading is the second part of the IELTS test and takes 60 minutes. It consists of three or sometimes four reading passages of increasing difficulty, and there are a total of 40 questions to answer. A variety of question types is used in order to test a wide range of reading skills. These including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding a logical argument, recognizing writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose. Though you can mark and write on the Question Paper, you must enter your answers on the Reading Answer Sheet, and be aware that no extra time is given for transferring your answers from the test booklet to the Reading Answer Sheet.
Writing – Duration 60 Minutes
IELTS Writing Test lasts for 60 minutes, and you will need to complete two writing tasks, each of which requires different text types (description, report, discussion, argument, opinion text).
Writing Task 1 – 20 Minutes
In the first part, you are given a task based on some graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarize 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. You are expected to write a descriptive report of at least 150 words on the information provided.
Writing Task 2 – 40 Minutes
The second task is more demanding. You are expected to produce a written argument on a given topic and to organize your answer clearly, given some examples to support your points. You will have to write at least 250 words and, as Task 2 is longer than Task 1, you are advised to spend approximately 40 minutes on this task and 20 minutes on the first task. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.
General Writing – One Hour
If you are planning to take the General module, the Writing test is different. You are allowed one hour to complete two tasks, of 150 and 250 words, as in the Academic module. However, Task 1 is always a letter, while Task 2 is an essay based on a given topic
Speaking – Duration: 11 to 14 Minutes
IELTS Speaking is a one-to-one interaction between the candidate and an examiner. The Speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. The three parts give the candidate the opportunity to use a range of different speaking skills. IELTS Speaking is recorded. The Speaking section is delivered in such a way that it does not allow candidates to rehearse set responses beforehand.
Candidates are assessed on their performance throughout the test.
IELTS candidates receive a score for each test component – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score.
There is no pass or fail. IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest half band.
A Test Report Form is posted to test takers 13 days after their test. It shows:
- An Overall Band Score (from 1-9)
- A band score (from 1-9) for each section of the test (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)
- Whether IELTS Academic or General Training was completed
- The test taker’s photo, nationality, first language and date of birth.
Test takers receive one copy of their Test Report Form, apart from test takers who are applying to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) who receive two copies.
Test Report Forms are valid for two years.
How To Register and Take IELTS Test in Nigeria
If you are in Nigeria and you are looking for the steps for registering and taking the IELTS exam in Nigeria, then follow the following bullet points. Please note that IELTS is not recommended for candidates under the age of 16.
- Download and read the information for candidates containing the test format, question type and test results.
- Decide which of the test module is good for you – Academic Module or General Module.
- Check for IELTS test dates and locations that are closer to you.
- Register online.
- Prepare and upload your International Passport.
- Pay via bank transfer from Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank and Zenith Bank. – the fee is N68,000
- Complete your registration
- After registering and payment, you will receive an automatic email with your access codes to the free online course.
For more information regarding registration, payment, exam centres and test format please visit here