The IELTS ( International English Language Testing System) is the English testing exam for educational institutions and immigration institutions around the world.
The test was designed to test English Language proficiency for intending students and immigrants.
It’s an exam jointly organized and managed by the British Council, IDP (International Development Program), and Cambridge Assessment English. The exam was established in 1989.
Other popular English language testing systems include TOEFL and TOEIC.
In order to immigrate to Canada, an English or French language competency test is required.
CIC accepts IELTS, CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) or (TEF) Test d’évaluation du français.
Minimum IELTS Score for Immigration to Canada
The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) is used by CIC for describing, measuring, and recognizing the English language proficiency of prospective immigrants.
Below is a breakdown of the IELTS scores required for each CLB level:-
The minimum CLB required depends on the kind of immigration program you’re applying for. Some require a higher CLB than others.
How Much Does It Cost to Take the IELTS Exam?
IELTS exam fees depend on your location as well as the institution where you’re taking the exam i.e a university vs at the British Council.
General cost ranges from USD 200 – 250. You should receive results with an original print out within a few weeks of taking the exam.
Tips for the IELTS Exam if You Want High Marks
Now on to my story of taking the IELTS exam. The first time I took the exam, I was having a hard time at work and didn’t really have time to study properly.
I also believed it wouldn’t be that difficult for me because I’m a native English speaker. Talk about the wrong assumption.
The exam was damn hard and gave me a headache. When the results arrived, I didn’t fail but I was pissed anyway.
I felt slightly affronted by the results and believed it didn’t reflect my abilities so I chose to take the exam again a few months later. The next time, I approached things differently.
Below are my best tips for taking the IELTS exam and kicking it out of the park the first time around:-
1. Don’t Take Studying for Granted
A lot of native English speakers believe they will sail through this exam but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The IELTS is a very weird exam especially the listening part.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a direct descendant of Shakespeare and Dickens, you still need to study for the exam.
How do you study for the IELTS? Take practice exams – reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Practice exams allow you to record and listen to yourself. Listen carefully and repeat the process as many times as possible.
2. Practice Severally
Even after you feel comfortable with the exam, continue to practice especially the listening part.
The reason I keep emphasizing the listening part is that you will only hear the recording once during the exam.
Once you miss the word, that’s it. You cannot rewind or ask anybody to replay it for you.
3. Don’t Panic on Exam Day
On exam day, when it comes to the listening part, perk up your hearing and don’t let yourself be distracted.
Write down the word as soon as you hear it. If you miss it, don’t think about it. Move on.
If you try to think about it, you will miss the next 3 words and lose even more marks.
With reading, go through the text quickly then again but slower so you can really understand what’s being asked then answer the questions.
I find this part to be the easiest because the questions appear in the same order as the answers in the text.
If you’re not a good writer, you really need to practice this a lot before the exam day. There are 2 questions for this part, which requires 150 words and 250 words.
Do not write less than required. You can estimate words by how many words you write on a line.
Don’t write nonsense just to meet the word requirements. You can use the first 5 – 10 minutes to write bullet points of how you want to structure your ideas.
Do not write a huge wall of text. That is mad annoying. Break everything into short, easy to read, grammatically coherent paragraphs.
Allow time to check your structure, spelling, rearrange something, etc.
Answer the questions like you’re hanging out with colleagues. Speak coherently with engaging words that convey emotion.
Do not give one-word answers or a short statement and then stop. Don’t worry about your accent as long as it’s clear.
What were the results of my second attempt? Impressive marks that I felt proud to submit with my application.
IELTS Practice Exams and Preparation Materials
IELTS practice exams and preparation materials are readily available on the British Council website for free:-
There are also resources available for sale. However, all the information I accessed was free and I was able to score high marks with those.
How Much Time Do You Need to Prepare for IELTS Exams?
That depends on your learning pace and the kind of marks you’re aiming for. I started preparing around 4 weeks before the exam dedicating a few hours to it every night.
I increased the number of hours the week before the exam and took two days off work the day before the exam for last-minute studying and preparation.
The night before the exam, I did not study at all and went to bed early so I could wake up with a refreshed mind.
If English isn’t your first language or you’re not very fluent, you will definitely require more than 4 weeks of prep time for the IELTS exam.
IELTS Exam Validity
IELTS exam results are valid for two years so if they expire before you become a Canadian citizen and you need an IELTS score for something else, you’re out of luck.
You’ll have to take the exam again in case you’ve forgotten how to speak, read, and write English in the last two years since the exam.
I wish you loads of luck with your IELTS exam and remember, practice makes perfect. For even more IELTS exam tips and tricks, check out IELTS Liz.