fbpx

A Level IELTS

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

Email: zhibbert@stedmundscollege.org

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is an examination which assesses and demonstrates international students’ ability to use and understand academic English. Universities usually include an IELTS grade as part of their conditional offers to international students; so for example, a university might say “You need AAB and IELTS 6.5”. For this reason, IELTS is as important as A Levels.

IELTS Scores Explained:

IELTS scores go from 1 to 9, in increments of 0.5. The higher the number the better. The score that a university will ask for depends on two things:

  • The prestige and quality of the university (the better universities ask for higher scores)
  • The type of course (essay-based subjects tend to require higher scores)
IELTS Score Required 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

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

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

Examination Structure

The speaking examination lasts  11-14 minutes, and is divided into three parts. It is taken with one student and one examiner.

The reading examination takes one hour. It involves reading and answering questions about 3 different texts.

The listening examination lasts for 40 minutes. It is divided into 4 parts, and involves listening to lectures and conversations.

The writing examination takes one hour. It involves two pieces of writing; one is descriptive, and the other argumentative.

EXAMINATIONS

The College arranges 3 IELTS examinations a year: one for each term.

Michaelmas (December)

The Michaelmas examination happens in December and it is compulsory for Rhetoric II students. This is the first IELTS examination for those in Rhetoric I and therefore based upon the teacher’s recommendation for students with a chance to 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 is a good opportunity to get a feel for the examination if they want to try the examination.

Lent (March)

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

Trinity (June)

The Trinity term IELTS examination is compulsory for all Rhetoric I students and for those in Rhetoric II who have yet to score the grade they need to get into their chosen universities.

The Venue: Anglia Ruskin University

We will arrange all of the transport and paperwork for you, and at least one of your teachers will accompany you to the examination. The examinations are held at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. We normally leave the College at 8am, and get back at 4pm. The examinations are normally on Saturdays.

COURSE CONTENT

The course content is divided into skills and language. You need to have the necessary skills and strategies as well as 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 will watch videos of speaking tests and practice doing speaking tests ourselves. It is very 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 be able to skim and scan for specific information. We will do lots of practice papers as well look at some of the key strategies for successfully approaching the reading paper.
Listening The IELTS listening examination is unusual in that candidates only hear each section once. It is therefore very important to stay focused throughout—we will look at ways to do that.
Writing Both sections of the writing examination require a specific sort of language and way of writing. We will work on this extensively, as the writing section is typically the one that students have the most difficulty with.
Road to IELTS You will have an online subscription to the Road to IELTS programme, which has explanations, videos, exercises and practice tests online. Sometimes you will work on this in class, but we encourage you to use it in your spare time too.

Your IELTS classes will be spread out over normal classes (periods 1-6) as well as some period 7s.

RESOURCES

Set texts: Our curriculum uses the following books. You do not need to buy these; we will provide them.

  • 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

1001 Ways is 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!

IELTS Tips!

Familiarise yourself with English accents from all over the world. All you have to do is watch a video of a person speaking and guess where the person is from. Test your listening skills and become an accent expert!

Quizlet

An app for learning vocabulary for IELTS. Both you and your teacher can upload vocabulary sets. A great tool for making sure you spend time expanding your vocabulary as, with the app on your device, you can access it anytime.

Online Resources

www.takeielts.org– Useful resources and examples of past papers to help you revise

www.ielts.org—Find out all the information you need about the exam

www.britishcouncil.org/learning-ielts-success-tips—IELTS Tips for success in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening

www.learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/ielts-practice/don’t-get-over-emotional—IELTS interview skills videos

SELF-STUDY

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, then you will need to work on it outside class as well as in your lessons. What you do, and how much you do, outside class is very important.

Watching Speaking Test Videos:

You can go onto YouTube and watch sample speaking test videos. Be sure to watch the different bands (from 5 to 9) – try 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 practice 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.

ASSESSMENT

We consider a 7.0 to be a ‘pass’ in IELTS. The following explains how each area is assessed:

Examiners use detailed performance markers when assessing the Writing and Speaking tests. These markers, called band descriptors, describe your written and spoken performance in four areas:

  • task achievement
  • coherence and cohesion
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy
Reading & Listening

For both sections you need to answer at least 30 out of 40 questions correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I have to do IELTS for 2 years?
  2. 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
  3. How much does the examination cost?
  4. The price is £180. We add £10-£15 for transport and administration. The cost will be added to your parents’ end of term bill.
  5. Do I need to do IELTS if I have another English examination, such as IGCSE Language and Literature or CAE?
  6. 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.
  7. Is IELTS helpful for universities outside the UK?
  8. Yes, in most countries—although it is possible that universities in the United States will want a ‘TOEFL’ examination certificate.
  9. Do all international students need to do IELTS?
  10. Yes, although if you come from an English-speaking country there is a possibility that universities will not require it.
  11. Can I take the examination myself during school holidays?
  12. Yes; if you take it and score your target grade then we will recognise that and you will not need to continue the classes with us.