What is the IELTS exam?

We often get asked what is IELTS, what is the difference between TOEFL and IELTS, what are the marking criteria in IELTS etc. So, in today’s post I am going to explain it all, in a Questions and Answers form.

What is the IELTS exam?
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s largest exam, and it is used to test English language for college and university entry, as well as for immigration. The are two kinds of IELTS tests: the Academic test for further study and the General Training (GT) test for immigration.

There is no pass or fail with IELTS. Instead, there are bands that show a person’s level. These bands range from 0-9. These bands are used by different institutions or authorities. If you want to attend university or college, you need at least IELTS 5.5 – and the more famous the university, or the course, the higher score you need.

IELTS has full and half bands, meaning that a person who gets 6.5 is better than a Six, but not yet a Seven

What are the four parts of the test?
IELTS is made up of four sub-tests. Candidates do all of them on one day. They are, in the order that they take place: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

The four tests are equally weighted, or if you think of it another way: worth 25% each. A band is given for each one, and there is also an average or Overall Band. A candidate receives a report within two weeks of taking the test with five scores on it.

Here are the structures of each section:

source: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/understand-test-format

How is IELTS marked?

Here is a guide to the scores needed for some bands for Listening and Reading. Writing and Speaking criteria are similar: both include a judgment on a candidate’s vocabulary and grammar. In Writing, candidates must also describe, analyze, and argue well. In Speaking, pronunciation plays a big role. To achieve a high band in IELTS, it is important to understand exactly what marking criteria are.

Listening and Reading Marking Criteria: 
Listening :


Writing criteria:

  1. Task fulfillment (answering the question fully)
  2. Coherence and cohesion (worlds, sentences, paragraphs joined smoothly, a logical order throughout)
  3. Lexical resource (vocabulary)
  4. Grammatical range and accuracy (grammar)
Each criterion carries the same weight.

Speaking criteria:
  1. Fluency and coherence (the ability to keep speaking; sound logic)
  2. Lexical resource ( vocabulary)
  3. Grammatical range and accuracy (grammar)
  4. Pronunciation
Like writing, each criterion is worth 25%.

How should I prepare for IELTS?
The answer to this question is simple: put in the effort. If this means setting alarm for 5am, and studying for an hour each day before you go to work, that is what you have to do. Be realistic, but also don’t be lazy. For most candidates, reading needs to be a priority. Twenty minutes of reading in English every day will dramatically improve your IELTS score.

What is the difference between IELTS and TOEFL?
Both, IELTS and TOEFL, test the four main language skills: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Here are main differences between the tests:

  1. For the Speaking part, in the IELTS you will talk to a real person, examiner, and in TOEFL you will speak to a computer.
  2. For the Writing part the difference here is how you actually input your words. For TOEFL you will type everything on a keyboard, for IELTS you will be writing on paper.
  3. For the Listening part. The TOEFL is 60 minutes long and the IELTS is 30 minutes long. The TOEFL is all in an academic context whereas the IELTS test is half academic and half social. The TOEFL is multiple choice only.
  4. For the Reading part the main differences are: The TOEFL is multiple choice only and the IELTS has a wide range of questions types.
The first thing you need to check choosing which test to take is which universities and colleges accept each test. You can find the list of institutions that accept IELTS and the band score you need for enrollment here:

For information about universities and colleges accepting TOEFL check this link:

Useful links:
If you would like to know more information – go to the IELTS website: www.ielts.org. There is plenty of interesting data there as well as free practice materials.
And remember that with WOORI Education everything is POSSIBLE and we are always on your side!

Always on your side!

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