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The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at St Edmund’s College is a qualification that demonstrates your understanding of academic English.

For international students, the IELTS qualification will assess you ability to use and understand academic English. An IELTS grade is commonly required by universities as part of their conditional offers to international students.

So for example, a university might say “You need AAB and IELTS 6.5” to secure a place on your university course. For this reason, an IELTS qualification is as important as A Levels.

Head of Department Miss Z Hibbert PGC TESOL (London) Delta M1 & M2 (Seville) Delta M3 (Norwich)

Course structure

The IELTS course is divided into skills and language. You need to demonstrate skills and strategies and a sufficient level of English proficiency to score a high enough grade.

Grammar Verb tenses, common mistakes, prepositions, etc. Grammatical accuracy is very important for all parts of the examination.
Vocabulary We learn vocabulary in topic-based lessons; there are themes like advertising, travel and science. You are also given an IELTS vocabulary list, which is a comprehensive list of all the words you need to know to be able to score a 7.0.
Speaking We watch videos of speaking tests and practise completing speaking tests. It is important to have clear pronunciation and be familiar with the structure of the speaking test.
Reading The reading comprehension questions require you to be able to read quickly, and to scan for specific information. We will do lots of practise papers to explore the key strategies for success in the reading paper.
Listening The listening examination is unusual as candidates only hear each section once. It is very important to stay focused and we explore ways to do that.
Writing Both sections of the writing examination require a specific sort of language and way of writing. We work on this extensively, as the writing section is often the one that students find most challenging.
Road to IELTS You will have an online subscription to the Road to IELTS programme, which has explanations, videos, exercises and tests online. Sometimes you will work on this in class, but we encourage you to use it in your spare time too.


IELTS classes are spread out between normal classes (Periods 1 – 6) and in some Period 7s.

Frequently asked questions


What IELTS score do I need for university entry?

IELTS scores go from 1 to 9, in increments of 0.5.

The higher the number the better. The score that a university requires depends on two things:

  1. The prestige and quality of the university (better universities ask for higher scores)
  2. The type of course (essay-based subjects tend to require higher scores)

We set our target at 7.0. This is the highest score that Russell Group universities normally ask for.

If you want to study Medicine and/or apply to Oxford or Cambridge you will need a 7.5.

IELTS score required Example course and university
5.5 BA (Hons) Photography, University of East London
6.0 BSc (Hons) Agriculture, Nottingham University
6.5 BSc (Hons) Physics, Kings College London
7.0 BSC (Hons) Architecture, University of Bath
7.5 BA (Hons) Jurisprudence/Law, University of Oxford




How does the assessment take place?

We consider a grade 7.0 to be a ‘pass’ in IELTS.

Writing and speaking

Examiners use detailed performance markers when assessing the writing and speaking tests. These markers ( band descriptors), describe your written and spoken performance in four areas:

  • task achievement
  • coherence and cohesion
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy

Reading and listening

For both sections on the reading and listening examinations you need to answer at least 30 out of 40 questions correctly

Assessment structure

  • Speaking examination (11-14 minutes) – divided into three parts. It is taken with one student and one examiner.
  • Reading examination (1 hour) – read and answer questions on three different texts.
  • Listening examination (40 minutes) – divided into four parts, and involves listening to lectures and conversations.
  • Writing examination (1 hour) – two pieces of writing; one descriptive, and one argumentative.


There are three IELTS examinations a year: one in each term.

Michaelmas (December)

The Michaelmas examination happens in December and it is compulsory for Rhetoric II (Year 13) students.

It is the first IELTS examination for those in Rhetoric I (Year 12) based upon the teacher’s recommendation for able students who can score a very high level to get their certificate and leave the IELTS classes.

For those in Rhetoric I with a lower level of English, this examination is a good opportunity to get a feel for the examination level.

Lent (March)

The examination in the Lent term is mainly for those who have a good chance of scoring the grade they need, or it is for those who would like additional practice taking the test under examination conditions.

Trinity (June)

The Trinity Term IELTS examination is compulsory for all Rhetoric I students and for students in Rhetoric II yet to score the grade needed for their chosen university course.

Assessment venue: Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

St Edmund’s College will arrange the transport and paperwork required for your assessment.

At least one of your teachers will accompany you to the examination. We normally leave the College at 8.00 am, and return at 4.00 pm. The examinations are normally on Saturdays.

What resources can I use?

Set texts: Our curriculum uses the following books. You do not need to buy these; they will be provided.

  • McCarter, S. (2017). Ready for IELTS Student’s Book Pack: Macmillan Education.
  • Jeffries, L. & Mikulecky, B. (2014) Advanced Reading Power 4: Pearson.
  • Cullen, P. (2014). Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hopkins, D. & Cullen, P. (2013). Grammar for IELTS. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Moore, J. (2017). Common Mistakes at IELTS Advanced. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mobile apps

  • IELTS Word Power – 100 questions testing vocabulary in 11 categories ranging from science and technology to work and business.
  • 1001 Ways – a fun and educative mobile app that allows you to learn English accents from all over the world. Watch a video of a person speaking and guess where the person is from. Tests listening skills and become an accent expert!
  • Quizlet – learn vocabulary for IELTS. Both you and your teacher can upload vocabulary sets. A great tool for making sure you spend time expanding your vocabulary.

Online resources


Above all, IELTS is a test of how good your English is.

If your English level is not high enough to score a 7.0, you will need to work on it outside class and in your lessons. What you do, and how much you do, outside class is very important.

Watching speaking test videos

On YouTube you can watch sample speaking test videos. Be sure to watch the different bands (from 5 to 9). Aim to learn from the mistakes of the low-level examples and pick up useful phrases from the higher level ones.

Here are some ways that you can improve and practise your English outside class:

  • Speak to people!
  • Watch videos
  • Listen to music
  • Read books and websites
  • Road to IELTS
  • Study vocabulary lists
  • Practice tests

If you do not use your English outside class, it will not improve!

Recommended resources for self-study

  • Betsis, A. & Mamas, L. (2011). Succeed in IELTS. Global ELT. 9 complete practice tests. Buy this with the Teacher’s Book which has answers and model writing texts.
  • McCarthy, M. & O’Dell, F. (2013). English Vocabulary in Use Advanced. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Over 100 units of advanced vocabulary. Each unit has explanations and exercises so is well-suited to self-study.
  • Hewings, M. (2013). Advanced Grammar in Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. A self-study book for high level grammar.


Do I have to do IELTS for two years?

No, you do it until you score a 7.0 (or 7.5 in some cases). Once you have that, you do not need to do IELTS classes any more.

How much does the examination cost?

The price is £180. We add £10-£15 for transport and administration. The cost will be added to the end of term bill.

Do I need to do IELTS if I have another English examination, such as IGCSE Language and Literature or CAE?

No. All universities recognise and accept IELTS, but they also recognise other English examinations too.

You will need to talk to your teachers about this and carefully research the entry requirements for your chosen universities and courses when you make a decision about what examination you would like to take.

Is IELTS helpful for universities outside the UK?

Yes, in most countries – although it is possible that universities in the United States will want a ‘TOEFL’ examination certificate.

Do all international students need to do IELTS?

Yes, although if you come from an English-speaking country there is a possibility that universities will not require it.

Can I take the examination myself during school holidays?

Yes; if you take it and score your target grade then we will recognise that and you will not need to continue the classes.