IELTS General Training

Everything you need to know!

Many professionals who plan for IELTS General Training, usually fall into the dilemma about What is IELTS General Training or how should they give a head start. The answer to what is IELTS General Training is explained below in detail.

What exactly is the IELTS General Training and how it is different from IELTS Academic?

Since the IELTS is used for both education and immigration purposes, there are two different modules of the test— IELTS General Training & IELTS Academic.

The IELTS General Training module is undertaken by those wishing to obtain non-academic training or to work abroad. It is also taken for immigration purposes (IELTS UK - VI). The General module tests conversational skills, and ability to comfortably converse in English in general social or professional circumstances.

The Academic IELTS is designed for students aspiring to pursue their higher education in countries where English is spoken as the 1st language or where the mode of instruction in the candidate's desired course is English. Hence, the test intends to gauge your ability to grasp and understand academic language and requires a strong command over English. It is also aimed at professionals such as doctors or nurses who want to emigrate to an English-speaking country for higher education.

Both the IELTS General and Academic have the same Listening and Speaking sections. The significant differences, therefore, lie in the Reading and Writing modules.

Why should you take IELTS General Training?

Take this test if you would like to:
1. Train or study at below degree level in an English speaking country
2. Work or undertake work related training in an English speaking country
3. Emigrate to an English speaking country
4. Get a better job in your own country.

What is the test format for the IELTS General Training?

The exam is conducted over 2 hours and 45 minutes, and consists of three sections, with the Speaking component conducted separately (lasting 11-14 minutes).
For students who take the computer-based IELTS, all 4 modules are conducted on the same date.

IELTS General Training: Listening
Duration: 30 minutes +10 minutes to transfer your responses to the answer sheet
Format: 4 audio recordings in varying accents. You will write your answers using:multiple choice, matching points, diagram labelling, sentence completion.
The recordings will be of 4 types:
Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context
Recording 2 - a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities
Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment
Recording 4 - a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture

IELTS General Training: Reading
Duration: 60 minutes
Format: Three reading passages with tasks:
Section 1 - Two short or three short factual texts
Section 2 - two short work-related, factual texts
Section 3 - One longer text on a topic of general interest
The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognizing writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose. This includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

IELTS General Training: Writing
Duration: 60 minutes
Format: Letter writing task (minimum 150 words)
Short essay writing task (minimum 250 words)
Topics are of general interest. There are two tasks:
Task 1 - you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
Task 2 - you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.

IELTS General Training: Speaking
Duration: 10 - 15 minutes
Format: Face-to-face interview
Short questions and speaking at length about a familiar topic
Part 1 - the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
Part 2 - you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 3 - you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. This will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

Scoring Pattern

Speaking and Writing are entirely subjective and thus scores are given accordingly, based on ability to articulate clearly and precisely, as well as usage of vocabulary, grammar, syntax and sentence structure. Accordingly, a score between 0 (non-user) to 9 (expert user) is awarded.

In Reading and Listening, there are 40 questions carrying 1 mark each. For every correct answer you get a single mark, which then cumulates into the final raw scores that you have. For example— if 30 of your answers are correct in listening, then 30 will be your raw score in IELTS listening out of 40, which will then be converted into bands.

In order to convert scores to bands, the raw score is matched with the corresponding band score. So if your raw score is 30, it will be converted into 7 bands. Each section has its own band score, and based on the average of the four bands, a score is given.

What is a good IELTS band to target?

As we’ve seen, universities generally stipulate their band score requirements based on programs of study on their website. However, for MS aspirants, a score between 6 (competent user) to 8 (almost expert user) is considered an excellent score. Of course, the perfect 9 score is an extremely elusive one!

Now, the IELTS may seem like a cake walk, but the truth is that students often arrive at the exam center and are taken aback by the test, not because their command over English is weak, but due to lack of acquaintance with the test format and scoring. Scoring high on the exam is actually surprisingly easy if you practice consistently, and work on your reading and writing skills.

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