– Written by Beth Caldwell
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English Language proficiency test for either migrating to or pursuing higher education in an English-speaking country. The IELTS test format has two types – General Training and Academic.
General IELTS is for applicants who want to migrate and Academic IELTS is for those who wish to study at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Both test formats have in four sections — listening, reading, writing and speaking. Taking the IELTS test opens doors to opportunities across 140 countries. The test is accepted by over 10,000 organisations worldwide, and by immigration authorities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK).
There are several myths surrounding IELTS, so it is important to cross-check your facts and be fully informed about the test rather than be misled by rumours and hearsay.
We have listed some common myths around IELTS below, with the facts alongside
IELTS is harder than other English tests: There is no doubt that IELTS requires hard work and thorough preparation, but it is certainly not more difficult than any other English test. This test is accepted and recognised by more governments in the world. The questions are designed to assess test-takers’ English skills.
To prepare for IELTS, then, a systematic improving of grammar and vocabulary is certainly a must to achieve a higher band score. Furthermore, do note there is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ in the IELTS test. Instead, test takers are assessed on the basis of their band score, which ranges between 1-9 (9 being the highest).
One can appear for IELTS only for a limited number of times: There is no limit to the number of times a candidate can appear for the IELTS test. Candidates can keep on re-appearing until their desired band score is achieved. To get the score needed, the best approach is always to understand the test format and work on improving English skills in order to perform well on the day.
The difficulty level of IELTS is different for different regions: This is one of the biggest myths surrounding IELTS, as a result of which test-takers appear for this test in centres in faraway cities instead of the one closer to their homes, thinking tests in remote areas may be easier. The fact the IELTS test is the same, irrespective of the city, state, region or country.
Some sections are easier than the others: It is incorrect to assume that some sections of the IELTS examination are easier than the others because answers to all sections are ranked against the nine bands.
The ability to answer well in a particular section varies from individual to individual and so we cannot generalise that some sections are easier or difficult for all. In order to ace the IELTS test, it important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses through doing plenty of test practice and ensure that all four sections of the test are practiced.
Complicated sentences and foreign accents get better scores in the speaking section: This is also a common misconception about IELTS. Using complicated sentences and speaking in a fake accent will not get a better score. One should instead focus on speaking clearly, correctly and at a normal pace.
The key to good communication is clarity, which fake accents and complex sentences will not help with. However, listening to English speakers from around the world in podcasts, audio recordings or on TV, will come in handy for understanding the different accents of English speakers across the globe and help you tackle the Listening section.
– The author is Head, Blended Learning and Quality Standards, British Council
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