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  IELTS

IELTS test structure


All candidates must complete four Modules - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking - to obtain a band score, which is shown on the IELTS Test Report Form (TRF). All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules, while the Reading and Writing Modules differ depending on whether the candidate is taking the Academic or General Training Versions of the Test.



Listening

The listening module comprises four sections. Each section begins with a short introduction telling the candidates about the situation and the speakers. They then have some time to look through the questions. The first three sections have a break in the middle allowing candidates to look at the remaining questions. Each section is heard only once.

Reading

In the academic module the reading test comprises three sections, with 3 texts normally followed by 13 or 14 questions for a total of 40 questions overall. The General test also has 3 sections. However the texts are shorter, so there can be up to 5 texts to read.

Writing

This consists of two sections. First section is where all candidates need to describe a diagram and with the second section taking the form of an essay.

Speaking

The speaking test contains three sections. The first section takes the form of an interview during which candidates may be asked about their hobbies, interests, reasons for taking IELTS exam as well as other general topics such as clothing, free time, computers and the internet or family. In the second section candidates are given a topic card and then have one minute to prepare after which they must speak about the given topic. The third section involves a discussion between the examiner and the candidate, generally on questions relating to the theme which they have already spoken about in part 2.

Duration

The total test duration is around 2 hours and 45 minutes for Listening, Reading and Writing modules.

. Listening: 40 minutes, 30 minutes for which a recording is played centrally and additional 10 minutes for transferring answers onto the OMR answer sheet.
. Reading: 60 minutes.
. Writing: 60 minutes.
. Speaking: 10–14 minutes.

(N.B.: No additional time is given for transfer of answers in Reading and Writing modules)

The first three modules - Listening, Reading and Writing (always in that order) - are completed in one day, and in fact are taken with no break in between. The Speaking Module may be taken, at the discretion of the test centre, in the period seven days before or after the other Modules.

The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user.


Band scale

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.

The following rounding convention applies: if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.

The nine bands are described as follows:


9

Expert User

Has full operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

8

Very Good User

Has full operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

7

Good User

Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

6

Competent User

Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

5

Modest user

Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

4

Limited User

Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in using complex language.

3

Extremely Limited User

Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations.

2

Intermittent User

No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs.

1

Non User

Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

0

Did not attempt the test

No assessable information provided at all.





Test Scores Compared

IELTS

TOEFL

PTE A

Paper Based

Computer Based

Internet Based

7.5

627

263

107

73 – 79

7

600

250

100

65 – 72

6.5

577

233

90

59 – 64

6

550

213

79

51 – 58

5.5

525

197

71

43 – 50

5

500

173

61

35 – 42




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