IELTS for UK – Check for Score, Validity and Band Requirements
Usefulness Of IELTS For Getting A UK Visa
When a foreigner applies for a UK Visa, his/her fluency in English is one of the major criteria for approval. IELTS or International English Language Testing System is the best valid option for checking the proficiency of a visa and immigration applicant in English.
IELTS for UK Visas can be the proof that applicants can read, write and speak English fluently, which is essential for them to study or work or lead a social life in this region. There are more than 1200 test centers in different countries across the world, where people can write answers of IELTS questions on computer.
What are IELTS Test formats and Types for UK?
IELTS follows a definite format of examination in the four categories of Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. Usually, the IELTS tests for Reading, Writing, and Listening are held on the same day and no break is given in between these tests. The test for Speaking may be either held on that same day or 7 days before or after that date, as per the convenience of examination centre authorities. The total time needed for completing all these 4 tests is 2 hours 45 minutes, following the definite timing scheduled for each test.
- Reading test format – Total 60 minutes are assigned for this test, during which 40 questions need to be answered. Three long passages from journals or storybooks or newspapers are given for reading, based on which several questions are asked. Examinees need to fill in the blanks, match two columns of words, finish some incomplete sentences, answer multiple-choice questions and give brief answers to some questions in this IELTS section. Each correct answer carries 1 mark and thus, total 40 marks can be achieved from this test. The main aim of this test is to check how efficiently and quickly examinees can read English, for answering these questions accurately.
- Writing test format – This test is also conducted for 60 minutes, where examinees need to complete two writing tasks. The first task needs to be completed in 20 minutes while the second one should be completed in 40 minutes. In the first task for IELTS Academic, any graph or chart or diagram needs to be described or explained in own words. Examinees appearing for IELTS General Training need to write a letter in personal or formal tone, explaining a given situation. The second task is to write an essay on a given problem or topic of argument. The marks allotted for the second task is double of that designated for the first task. Hence, the score for this test is decided in whole and half bands.
- Listening test format – Examinees are allowed 30 minutes to complete this part of IELTS and they get extra 10 minutes for transferring their answers from the given question booklet to the answer sheet. Four recordings of conversations and monologues of native British speakers on academic subjects or everyday topics are provided, which examinees should listen carefully and try to understand all the words. 40 questions need to be answered based on these audio clippings, including multiple-choice questions, match the following, labeling of given diagrams or maps, and completion of sentences. Every correct answer is given 1 mark and thus, total 40 marks can be achieved from this test, which is converted to the score of whole and half bands.
- Speaking test format – It is the shortest test of only 11 – 14 minutes duration. There are three parts of this test, to check the efficiency of spoken English of examinees. In Part 1 of this test, an examinee is asked to speak about his/her family, interests, or academic life for 4 – 5 minutes. Part 2 of this test lasts for 2 minutes, during which the examinee is asked to speak on a certain topic and he/she gets 1 minute time to prepare for speaking on this topic. In Part 3 of this test, the examinee is asked a few questions on the topic discussed in Part 2 for 4 – 5 minutes, to discuss some abstract issues on this topic. Scores are credited according to the English fluency, grammatical accuracy, pronunciation of spoken words, and the vocabulary of the examinee.
Two main varieties of IELTS are IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training while IELTS Life Skills is the lesser known category of this testing system.
- IELTS Academic is meant for examining the English proficiency that suits the academic purposes. It checks the compatibility of students applying for higher education in different universities of the UK. If anyone applies for a Tier 4 Student Visa to study a Bachelor or postgraduate degree in any British university or college, high IELTS score is essential for admission for the desired course. When a non-English speaking person applies for a job in a country where English is the primary official language, this type of IELTS score for Australia and other English-speaking countries can be very important for granting visa.
- IELTS General Training aims in checking the English proficiency of a person in the practical world so that he/she can communicate easily in English in the workplace or in social life. This type of IELTS is useful in getting admission in different educational institutes and to get jobs in reputed commercial organizations in the UK. If any foreigner wants to immigrate to an English-speaking country, this IELTS score is needed for faster approval of his/her visa. This score is also highly valued when a person attempts to switch his/her job in an English-speaking country. People can write this IELTS test on paper or via computer, as both options are available in numerous locations.
- IELTS Life Skills is a test conducted in the categories of Speaking and Listening only. It proves that the English speaking or understanding skills match the A1 (Beginners) or B1 (Intermediate) level of Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Unlike the other two types of IELTS, people do not need to give tests in reading and writing here. The score of this test is needed for the approval of Visa applications in certain categories and also for immigration purposes.
What are IELTS Score Requirements for UK?
Different universities and educational institutions of the UK have distinct requirements regarding IELTS scores obtained by foreign applicants. These score requirements depend on the ranking of these universities among all institutes for higher education across the world. Oxford University currently ranks No.1 in the world and thus, it demands minimum IELTS score of 7.0 for undergraduate courses and 7.5 for postgraduate courses.
University of Cambridge and Imperial College London both require IELTS score of 7.0 for admission in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. It is seen that all reputed universities want a foreign student to score between 6.0 and 7.5 in the IELTS test. It is also essential to score high grades in IELTS for joining foundation level of any course, language courses, and vocational courses below the graduation degree level. This high score level is also needed to be achieved in all parts of the IELTS test for UK Visa and Immigration application approval.
What are IELTS Fees for the Test?
IELTS is offered from more than 1000 test centers all over the world. This testing system is developed jointly by British Council, English assessment department of the University of Cambridge, and IDP IELTS Australia. The registration fee for appearing in this test can be paid online, just by logging into the IELTS website. This fee varies from the paper-based IELTS to the computer-delivered test, which the applicant must mention while paying online.
Additional postage charge is needed for paper-based test, in the case of which the printed result termed as Test Report Form (TRF) is sent by post or courier to the address of the examinee. The specific type of IELTS should be chosen as well, as the fees are different for different modules of IELTS test. The fee mentioned against IELTS for UK Visa category is much higher than all other categories of this testing system.
What is the validity for the IELTS Score for UK?
Currently, the validity of IELTS score is 3 years, during which a successful examinee can apply for admission in any university of the UK. A minimum score in IELTS is also essential for visa application, which is applicable only till it is valid. Previously, the validity of IELTS score was 2 years from the date when the result of this test was declared online. Now, this validity is calculated from the date when this test is conducted and does not depend on the date of the release of its score anymore. Usually, the IELTS result is declared after 13 days of the test, in the case of paper-based test while this result is available only after 5 – 7 days of the examination date for online examinees.
Since the IELTS score is awarded in the form of bands, 9 is the highest band that denotes the skill level of an ‘Expert user’. Band scores of 6 – 9 are desirable that show satisfactory command of the examinee over English language.