INTERNATIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTING SYSTEM (IELTS)
INTERNATIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTING SYSTEM (IELTS)
When you apply to study abroad in Germany for a program taught in English, you may need to complete a language proficiency test to prove your English is of an acceptable standard. Different universities may require you to meet specific entrance requirements, your International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test score will be commonly accepted at institutions in Germany. Here is an overview of IELTS for everything you need to know about the exam including fees, test structure and study tips to best help you prepare.
The IELTS test is used to measure your English language proficiency for educational, immigration and professional purposes. The exam is recognized by the German educational board, organizations worldwide, and can be taken within over 900 test centres across 130 countries. If English is not your native language, you will most likely need to submit your IELTS exam score as part of your application to study an English-taught study program abroad. IELTS will test the standard of your English across all four language skill areas: listening, reading, speaking and writing.
You will need to register for the IELTS exam and fill in an application form before you can sit for it. You will need to first check available exam dates with your nearest IELTS centre, and take note of any registration deadlines. Once you have found a date that is okay for you, you will then need to print out the IELTS application form, fill it out and take it into your nearest IELTS centre along with the exam fee. You can download the application form from the IELTS website, or ask your nearest centre to send one to you in the mail. Some Centres will accept applications and fees sent by mail. Once you have lodged your application, the centre will let you know you’ve been registered, and confirm the exam date, time and venue with you.
There are two types of IELTS tests: Academic and General Training. Which test you need to take depends on which country you are applying for a program in, though both tests have the same listening and speaking components, but the institutions in Germany accept only the Academic IELTS test.
ACADEMIC IELTS: Most international students will be required to take the Academic IELTS test. This test is required of those applying for a study program in an English-speaking university or higher education institute. Admission into programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate level will depend on the results of the IELTS test.
ON THE EXAM DAY: On the day of your exam, you will need to bring in the same passport and/or national identity card whose details you entered on the IELTS application form. The IELTS exam takes 2 hours and 40 minutes in total with no breaks, so make sure you have something to eat and drink beforehand. You will only be allowed to take a transparent water bottle into the exam room with you. Some locations will also require that a photo be taken of you on the test day that will appear on your results form.
The test will be in four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
The first component of the exam is 30 minutes long, within which you will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by native English speakers. Speakers will have a range of English-speaking accents such as British, North American and Australian. You will need to write down answers to questions that test how well you have understood the main ideas expressed in the recordings, as well as identify specific facts mentioned, tone and opinions of the speakers. You will only hear each section once.
Section one will be an excerpt from an everyday conversation between two people, section two a monologue set in an everyday social context and section three a conversation between up to four people in an educational or training context, i.e. between a professor and students. Section four will be a monologue about an academic subject, i.e. an excerpt from a university lecture.
The reading IELTS component is 60 minutes long and is comprised of 40 questions. These questions will test how well you are able to understand the ideas, progression, specific language and register of a written text. The Academic reading test is made up of three long texts that may vary from descriptive to analytical in style, and have been lifted from books, Journals, Magazines and Newspapers.
The writing test is made up of two sections, and is 60 minutes long in total. The Academic version requires candidates to first summarize or explain information presented in a graph, table, chart or diagram. You might need to explain the data presented, offer a short analysis of it or describe the processes outlined. You will then need to write a short essay in response to a prompt offering a point of view, argument or language style.
The speaking test is in three parts and is approximately 11-14 minutes long in total. All speaking tests are recorded. In part one, students will need to answer general questions about themselves and partake in general conversation about work, studies, interests, family, home etc. This part is about four-five minutes long. Next, you’ll be given a card that will give you a more specific topic you’ll need to speak about for up to two minutes. After you get the card, you’ll have one minute to prepare, and will need to answer a few questions on the same topic after you’ve finished speaking. In part three, you will be asked more questions about the topic covered in part two, but your examiner will focus on generating discussion and prompting you to contribute your own ideas and commentary. This final component takes about four-five minutes.
This component of the test can be up to a week before the test date, or a week after. It may also be after a break on the same day as the other three components, depending on your test centre. This will be confirmed once you have successfully registered for the exam.
HOW IS IELTS TEST SCORED?
Your IELTS exam will be graded using a Band Scale that will place your overall score within a band ranked from 1-9, with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest. Your overall score will be an average of your results from all four of the exam’s separate components, and is rounded to the nearest half-band. Each component of the exam is equally weighted.
When you get your results, you will receive both your overall test score and your scores for each component. Test score requirements may differ across institutions but most will typically require you to score at least 6 overall.
Your results will be sent to you in the mail 13 days after you sit the exam. You can also arrange for your IELTS centre to automatically send your results to up for five institutions, free of charge. Your results will be valid for a period of two years.
The IELTS exam is designed to test your language proficiency, and so the best way to study is by exposing yourself to as many native English-speaking resources as possible. Watch English speaking movies and television, read newspapers, books, websites and magazines. The exam will test how well you are able to engage with English across different registers and situations, as so the wider your berth of understanding of English used in different contexts, the better. Try to practice speaking as much as possible: even if it is in front of the mirror by yourself.
If you are sitting the Academic version of the IELTS test then try to see if you can download some public lectures that are academic in content. Many universities, such as the University of California, Berkeley have downloadable podcasts and lectures that are free of charge. Even if the topic is a little out of your depth, try to familiarize yourself with the tone and conventions of academic language use: you will be surprised just how quickly you will pick it up.
By Monica Karpinski.