IELTS exam day

My IELTS Experience & Tips For You

This is the IELTS experience submitted by an IELTS taker. You can read other IELTS takers’ experience here.

I took the IELTS (Academic Module) at IDP in Malaysia as the University I applied to did not accept the Cambridge English: Proficiency or the Cambridge English: Advanced scores. I paid a fee of approximately MYR 600, excluding the cost of IDP’s IELTS workshop. The workshop was not useful because we were charged for information that was freely available on the Internet i.e. the test components, question papers of previous years, and some obvious “quick” tips to score well.
The IELTS has four segments: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. The sequence in which you take each segment varies from candidate to candidate. I had Listening, Reading, and Writing one after the other, then got a break for four hours before resuming with Speaking.

LISTENING

This segment takes around 30 minutes, after which you have 10 minutes to write your answers. I felt that this was the easiest of the four segments.
A few recordings in different (but easily apprehensible) accents were played, after which questions were asked in sequence of the recordings. However, you must pay attention because each recording is played only once and you might get confused by the “trick” questions if you don’t listen well.
For example:
A: “Hello, may I get your name?”
B: “Yes, it’s Anna Hardie.”
A: “Anna Hardy..”
B: “It’s -ie.”

If you weren’t listening closely, you may miss the “-ie” and write “Hardy” instead of “Hardie.”
The answer choices are also meant to confuse candidates.
For example:
QUESTION – Where did Dan and Maria ask for directions?
A. At the train station
B. At the police station
C. At the national museum
D. At the train museum

The recordings speak of each of these places and you need to listen carefully to know the answer.

READING (ACADEMIC)

This segment takes around 60 minutes and is fairly straightforward.
I was given three long articles, one each about butterflies, smog, and lies. It is a good idea to skim through an article to get the main points instead of reading each word, and then attempt the questions.
The only problem is when answer choices like mentioned, unmentioned, and writer does not express this opinion are given. Candidates get confused between unmentioned and writer does not express this opinion. Attempting practice tests will help.

WRITING (ACADEMIC)

This segment takes about 60 minutes and comprises two tasks to be completed in pencil or black/blue ink.
First task: describing a chart/graph in a minimum of 150 words
It is good to state the general trend observed before describing the specifics. Words like plateau, stable, shot up significantly, fluctuated, fell, dipped slightly, rise, and reached its peak should be used.
Second task: providing one’s views on a given topic in a minimum of 250 words
For example: E-learning should be introduced to kindergarten students. To what extent do you agree?

SPEAKING

This segment takes about 15 minutes and comprises three parts. Your answers are recorded.

First part: Introducing yourself
Questions like “Could you describe your family to me?”, “Where do you live?”, “Do you have a pet?” are asked. You should give elaborate answers to demonstrate your spoken English proficiency.
A list of sample questions are on our website here.

Second part: Talking about a given topic for 2 minutes
You will be given 1 minute to jot down points using a pencil and paper. Some points will be provided on a task sheet to help you. You will not be interrupted when you speak.

Third part: Answering questions about the topic given previously
Again, you should demonstrate your language proficiency by giving elaborate answers.

Remain formal, make adequate eye contact, and avoid using slang, or trying to be funny. It is not appreciated.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE:

IDP was professional while conducting the test, but wasn’t helpful with university applications.

REMINDERS:

• It is advisable to bring a warm jacket because the central air conditioning may make the rooms too cold for comfort.
• Avoiding slippers and dressing smartly will help.
• Mechanical pencils are not allowed. If you forget, you will be given a pencil.
• Carry the identification document that you used to register to the IELTS.
• Calculators are not allowed.

Satabdi is a content writer and editor with degrees in Biology and English. Her interests include education, health and wellness, and books. When not writing, she can usually be found reading in a corner.

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