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International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

If English isn’t your first language, then it is necessary to provide proof of proficiency in the English Language, if you want to apply for a Master’s programme in the USA. This proficiency can be proved by attempting the English Language Tests. TOEFL and IELTS are the two most popular English Language assessments which are recognized by all the institutions/ Universities in the United States. These standardized English language tests assess all aspects of a language – reading, writing, speaking and listening. Both the exams are widely accepted in all Universities and have similar testing patterns, but we suggest that IELTS is a simpler, better option. This guide will assist you with all the stages involved in IELTS test-taking.

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Before You Start

  • Check the minimum band score required for being eligible for application (E.g. Overall band score of 6.50)
  • Sometimes, a few universities will mention the minimum band score for each section (E.g. 6.0 in every section)
  • The IELTS exam can be attempted on either the Paper-based or Computer-based.

Required Documents

  • Your Passport
  • Credit/Debit card
  • List of 5 universities to which the TRFs are to be sent (optional)

Step by step guide

  • Visit the official link for IELTS Test Registration.
  • Go to “Find Test Date” form and enter the criteria given and click on ‘Find’.
  • Date: Select the month when you will be taking the test (e.g. May 2017)
  • Town/City: Select your nearest town (e.g. Bengaluru)
  • Module: Academic
  • As you are applying for a Masters, you need to attempt the Academic Module in IELTS.
  • (Find Test Date and Check Availability): A list of available dates at your chosen location and the fee of the exam will be displayed. If nothing is listed, change the city or test date and try again. Select a suitable date and ‘Apply’ for the exam.
  • TERMS & CONDITIONS: Go through the Terms and Conditions, click on the checkbox and click ‘Continue’.
  • CANDIDATE DETAILS: Enter the candidate details correctly. Most of the fields are self-explanatory. Fill in the details as they appear in your Passport. Then click ‘Continue’.
  • Note: Don’t be too picky on the details like ‘What is your occupation sector?’ or ‘Why are you taking the test?’ This is for the British Council to collect the candidate details for improving the test quality.
  • Once again review your details. Make sure IELTS Test Details read the above choices and your name and passport details are spelt correctly in Candidate details.
  • PAYMENT DETAILS: You can pay immediately using a credit/debit card. This is a convenient option.
  • You can also pay offline. In this case, the fee needs to be paid within the next three days. You can pay at any ICICI Branch by cash by filling in an ICICI challan, or you can pay by a Demand Draft in the name of “British Council” payable at ‘New Delhi’.

After You Register

  • You will receive a mail confirming the receipt of payment and containing access details to the free online preparation course – Road to IELTS Points.
  • Your chosen test centre will send you written confirmation of the date, time and the test venue a week before the test.
  • Speaking test time may be scheduled on the same day as the written tests or on a different day within a 7-day window, either before or after the written examinations. The test centre will confirm your Speaking test date, time and venue.
SECTIONQUESTIONSDURATION
Listening4 sections - 40 questions30 minutes
Reading3 sections - 40 questions60 minutes
Writing2 Tasks (150 words, 250 words)60 minutes
Speaking3 parts11 – 14 minutes

On the Test Day

  • Arrive 10-15 mins earlier for your IELTS test. It will give you the time to calm down and prepare yourself for the exam.
  • The IELTS test staff at the test location will check your Passport when you arrive. If you do not carry your Passport, you will not be allowed to attempt the test.
  • At most of the test locations, a photograph of you will be taken on the test day (for security purpose).
  • Once you are at the test centre, switch off your mobile phone and any other electronic devices you are carrying. You will be asked to keep your personal belongings outside the test room. You shall only be allowed to take a pen/pencil, an eraser, a sharpener and your ID on your desk.
  • The Listening, Reading and Writing tests take a total of 2 hours 40 minutes, and there will be no breaks between each part of the test. Speaking test takes about 11-14 minutes (likely to be scheduled on a different day).

Test Results

  • The IELTS score (‘band’ from 1 to 9) is an indicator of your English language proficiency.
  • The IELTS test results will be released 13 calendar days after you have completed the test. Test centres will send your Test Report Form (TRF) to you by post 13 days after the test.
  • You can also see your results on the portal 13 calendar days after the test date. The results are online for 28 days.
  • You need to know your date of birth, your test date, your passport number and the candidate number to check your results online.
  • You can ask up to five additional TRFs to be sent to your preferred Institutions within one month of taking the IELTS test.

Trivia

  • It typically takes about two weeks to two months of preparation time for IELTS, depending on your current English language proficiency level. Also, it takes about 13 calendar days for the results to be announced. If you need to send the IELTS TRF along with your application, plan your test date accordingly.
  • If you are not sure whether IELTS is mandatory for your course, do the following. Search the university website, write to the admissions department of the University asking for information. If you still don’t have the precise information, attempt the test and send your scores anyway.
  • Try to be calm; keep your anxiety in check on the test day(s). Attempt many mock tests to prepare yourself.
  • You can predict the overall band score using this IELTS score calculator when you do your mock tests.
  • An overall band of 6.5 is usually the minimum requirement for most of the Master’s programme in USA.
  • You can send your IELTS scores to five universities within a month of your test results. Contact your test centre for further details.
  • Your IELTS test results have a validity of two years.
  • You can attempt the IELTS as many times as you want, and you can send your best score to the universities. But repeatedly taking the test may/may not improve your results unless you work on the weaknesses identified in your Test Report Form.

Resources

You have many resources online to get the best score you are expecting! And these resources are all free! So a dedicated self-study should get you through. The resources given below cover all the aspects of IELTS test preparation.

You should make the best use of the free online preparation course – Road to IELTS. It contains nine practice tests, four informative e-books, and advice videos from the British Council IELTS experts. It will provide you with insights about your strengths and weaknesses via graphs and tables.

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