IELTS means International English Language Testing System. It measures ability to communicate in English across all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking – for people who intend to study or work where English is the language of communication. It is prepared by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and is administered by British Council and IDP Australia. The assessment test first started out in 1989. In five years, there was a significant rise of people taking the IELTS averaging 15% a year. At the end of 1995, more than 43,000 candidates completed the IELTS exam in 210 test centres worldwide. Now it has grown to 400 test centres in over 120 countries and is still growing in popularity. Over 1 million people worldwide take IELTS every year.
General Training vs. Academic Training
General Training is for skilled workers, students who wish to study vocational courses and for those who want to migrate to English-speaking countries. A number of government institutions, professional organizations and companies require their applicants to take the exam. The General Training module measures English ability in various social situations. Around 1,500 organizations accept IELTS as a qualification.
The Academic module is for professionals who want to work abroad and students who want to pursue university and post-graduate courses abroad. The listening and speaking tests are the same for General Training and Academic module. However, the writing and reading are different for General Training and Academic module.
IELTS vs. TOEFL
There are a lot of differences between IELTS and TOEFL. Here is a list of their differences:
International English Language Testing System is mostly British in context. Thus, it is widely recognized in UK universities. Universities in Canada, New Zealand and Australia also accept it . Most US universities also recognize IELTS as an alternative for TOEFL.
TOEFL is more widely accepted in the US universities. All US colleges accept TOEFL.
TOEFL and IELTS are both offered 48 times a year.
TOEFL has more test centres with over 4,500 centres in 165 countries. On the other hand, the International English Language Testing System has only 900 test centres worldwide. But they have a centre in all major cities across the globe.
TOEFL only has one type of test compared to IELTS which has the Academic and General Training module.
The Academic module is used as a requirement to enter universities. It is more difficult since the questions are academic in nature.
The General Training module is used as a requirement for those who are immigrating to an English-speaking country. It is easier since most questions are concerned with situations in a real world, social setting.
IELTS and TOEFL prices generally range between $150-250 depending on your country and test type.
The total score in TOEFL is 120 points. On the other hand, IELTS scores are rated with 1 as the lowest and 9 as the highest.
- Section Differences
The IELTS listening is mostly British while TOEFL listening is mostly American accent. Its speaking section is a face-to-face interview with a native English speaker while the TOEFL speaking is computer-based. Moreover, the speaking test has only three tasks while TOEFL has six speaking tasks. In the TOEFL speaking, there are integrated tasks combining listening and reading. TOEFL speaking questions are more academic in nature while IELTS speaking questions have a mix of academic as well as personal questions.
The task types in the TOEFL are mostly multiple choice. IELTS has more variety in task types such as multiple choice, sentence completion, matching headings, yes/no/not given and short answers.
IELTS vs. PTE Academic
IELTS and PTE Academic are both similar in the sense that they test reading, listening, writing and speaking. Both have a mixture of task types such as multiple choice and fill in the blanks. The PTE Academic task types mostly have integrated tasks combining reading and listening or speaking and reading. However, the International English Language Testing System is British in context while PTE Academic is American in context. The former is paper-based while PTE Academic is computer-based, and its speaking test is done face-to-face with a native English speaker while the PTE Academic speaking is done through the computer. An advantage of PTE Academic is that you can get test results in 5 days compared to 13 days for IELTS.
Organizations that accept IELTS throughout the World
More than 9,000 organizations worldwide accept the International English Language Testing System as a trusted and reliable indicator of language ability. You can search a list of organizations that accept the English language assessment exam through its website here.
Organizations that accept IELTS in Singapore
There are many professional associations, companies, government agencies and educational institutions that accept IELTS in Singapore. Here are some of the organizations that accept it.
Where to find IELTS Sample Tests
Many websites provide free IELTS sample tests to visitors. Here is a list of websites where you can get your IELTS sample tests:
Where to find IELTS materials
There are many good IELTS preparation materials where you can buy online. Here are some links where you can purchase helpful books:
There are other books you can buy. Here are some of the recommended books:
Cambridge IELTS 8 Self-study Pack (Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CDs (2)): Official Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (IELTS Practice Tests) by Cambridge ESOL (Apr 29, 2011)
Cambridge IELTS 7 Self-study Pack (Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CDs (2)): Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (IELTS Practice Tests) by Cambridge ESOL (Jul 6, 2009)
Barron’s IELTS with Audio CDs: International English Language Testing System (Barron’s Ielts: International English Language Testing System) by Lin Lougheed (Feb 1, 2010)
Target Band 7: How to Maximize Your Score (IELTS Academic Module) by Simone Braverman (Aug 14, 2008)
Ace the IELTS: IELTS General Module – How to Maximize Your Score by Simone Braverman (Nov 1, 2009)
Essential Words for the IELTS with Audio CD (Barron’s Essential Words for the Ielts (W/CD)) by Lin Lougheed (Apr 1, 2011)
Barron’s IELTS Practice Exams with Audio CDs: International English Language Testing System by Lin Lougheed (Oct 1, 2010)
Kaplan IELTS by Kaplan (Oct 5, 2010)
IELTS Assist program, IDP Education Ltd, $59.95 (Writing) $99.95 (all four skills)
Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CD (Cambridge Books for Cambridge Exams) by Diane Hopkins and Pauline Cullen (Oct 23, 2006)
IELTS Writing Analysis for Task 1 and 2: The International English Language Testing System by Richard Aspinall and Isabel Zippert (Feb 28, 2011) – Unabridged
IELTS Writing Task 2: The International English Language Testing System by Richard Aspinall and Isabel Zippert (Feb 28, 2011) – Unabridged
IELTS Task 2: How to write at a 9 level: A Brief eBook by Ryan T. Higgins by Ryan T Higgins (Apr 4, 2010)
The writing task is the third part of the International English Language Testing System exam. There is a difference between General Training and Academic. For the Academic Task 1, candidates write a report of around 150 words based on material found in a graph, chart, table or diagram, demonstrating their ability to describe and explain data.
For the second task candidates write an essay of around 250 words in response to a given topic. They are expected to demonstrate an ability to discuss issues, construct an argument and use the appropriate tone and register.
On the other hand, the General Training task 1 requires candidates to write a letter either asking for information, or explaining a situation. The second task is an essay of around 250 words, and is written in response to a given title. Candidates are expected to be able to present their own ideas and challenge other ideas, using appropriate tone and register.
The Speaking test takes the form of a one-to-one interview between the candidate and the examiner. The test takes about 11-14 minutes. Candidates are asked questions, speak for one to two minutes on a given topic (one minute is given for making notes and preparing what you want to say), and answer further questions expressing opinion and speculation.
The Speaking test has three parts:
Part 1 – You will be asked questions about familiar topics such as yourself, your family, hobbies, hometown and work. This section lasts about 4-5 minutes.
Part 2 – You will be provided with a task card which asks you to talk about a topic. You have one minute to prepare and two minutes to talk. The examiner will ask rounding questions to complete this part of the test.
Part 3 – You will be asked questions related to Part 2. You are being assessed if you can answer questions on abstract topics. This section lasts for 4-5 minutes.
The first test is the Listening test. You have 30 minutes to answer a 40-item test. Candidates listen to a number of recorded texts once only. The texts increase in difficulty as the test progresses. They include a mixture of conversations and dialogues and feature a variety of English accents. The candidates are given a limited time to read the questions before listening. After the listening test candidates are given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to an answer sheet.
The Listening has four sections:
Section 1 is a conversation between two persons in a social or semi-official context e.g. a conversation in a language school.
Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday situation, e.g. a talk show about pets
Section 3 is a conversation up to four persons in an academic setting e.g. an advisor talking to a student
Section 4 is a university-style lecture e.g. lecture on rocks
The second part of the International English Language Testing System is the Reading test. There are 40 questions that you need to answer in 60 minutes. There is a difference between the Academic and General Training reading. There are three reading passages with different kinds of questions to answer. Texts are taken from books, magazines, journals and newspapers, all written for a non-specialist audience. Answers are recorded on an answer sheet within the hour.
For the General Training, the texts are based on the type of material candidates would be expected to meet on a daily basis in an English-speaking country. They are taken from sources such as newspapers, advertisements, instruction manuals and books.
To know more about IELTS, watch this video: