International English Language Testing System, in short, known as IELTS exam, is an assessment of a candidate’s language skills in all the areas i.e Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. It is a 2 hour and 45 minutes long exam in which Reading, Writing and Listening section test takes place on the same day one after the other without break whereas the test of Speaking section takes place on some other day, usually within a week’s time of the previous test. IELTS is taken by the candidates for various reasons, some take the test to go abroad on immigration or permanent residency purpose, some take for work purpose and some take the exam to study further in a foreign university.
It is conducted by the collaborative effort of Cambridge University, IDP, Australia and the British Council, London. It is a very systematically set and fair assessment exam. It is segregated into two parts: One is IELTS General and the other is IELTS Academic.
The people/ candidates who want to settle abroad on the basis of Immigration, Permanent Residency or work, they need to take the IELTS General test. Its difficulty level is toned down a bit than IELTS Academic exam. Also, the score requirement for immigration, work, etc. are different for every country. Though, the basic band requirement by any country is 6 bands or above. But since the immigration is based on a point system so the higher bands in IELTS, will fetch higher points.
On the contrary, the student category who want to move abroad on a study visa for pursuing higher education in foreign universities or undergraduate colleges has to appear for IELTS Academic, because to take up any education abroad requires a very high level of English.
The basic pattern of IELTS General and IELTS Academic remains the same i.e the exam is divided into four different sections, each section has been allotted the same time frame. The Listening and the Speaking sections are the same in both the exams the only thing that varies is the Reading and the Writing section.
The Reading Section:
The Reading section of IELTS General consists of three different sections. Section 1 includes two or more than two short texts which are work-related such as an advertisement or hotel notice etc. Section 2 has two texts related to the workplace such as training, safety, job description, etc. and Section 3 comprises one long generic passage taken from a journal, newspaper, magazine or a book. The time allowed to attempt this section is 60 minutes and there is a total of 40 questions that are based on the passages. There are various kinds of questions in this section such as Notes completion, Summary completion, Match the headings, Match the sentence endings, Flow chart completion, Table completion, True or False, Multiple choice questions, etc.
The Reading section of IELTS Academic includes three passages on the Academic topics procured from the books, magazines, newspaper articles, etc. The time allowed to complete this section is 60 minutes and there are 40 different types of questions i.e Identify the information, short-answer questions, match the headings, etc. The level of the passage is a bit higher than the IELTS General yet the content is meant for the non-specialist audience such as students of the undergraduate or postgraduate level.
There is a slight difference in scoring in both, IELTS General reading and IELTS Academic eg. If a candidate has got 37 to 38 correct responses in General reading, his score will be 8 bands. Whereas in Academic reading if a candidate has got 37 to 38 correct responses, his score will be 8.5 bands.
The Writing section:
The IELTS General Writing section consists of two tasks which are to be completed within 60 minutes. Task 1 is to be completed in 20 minutes, in which a candidate has to write a semi-formal/ Informal/ Formal letter explaining a situation or requesting some information. It is to be written in 150 words. It can be addressed to a relative, friend, neighbor, landlord, employer, etc. depending on what is asked in the question. Task 2 comprises an argument based or solution-oriented essay which is to be written in 250 words within 40 minutes. The contracted forms are acceptable in General writing.
In the IELTS Academic Writing section, a candidate is given 2 tasks to be completed within 60 minutes. In the first task, a diagram/ chart/ table/ graph is given on the basis of which a candidate has to write a report or summarise the factual data in a formal manner showing the trends/ variations or it could be a description of a process/ product. This task is to be completed within 20 minutes in 150 words. Task 2 of Academic writing is a discussion/ argument based essay on some prevalent issues or some mass scale issue and it is to be completed within 40 minutes in 250 words. Contracted forms are not acceptable in academic writing.
No marks are deducted for exceeding the word limit but marks are deducted if the word limit is not met.