Head of Department: Miss G Fanning MA (York) BA Hons (Open)

Email: gfanning@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.

The IELTS course is different to ‘A’ levels, in that you take classes until you score a high enough grade. Once you have that grade (normally a 7.0), you do not need to attend

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)
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


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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

Speaking & Writing

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

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. In 2018 the price was £170. 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 or FCE?
  6. Yes. All universities recognise and accept IELTS. That is not necessarily true of any other examination.
  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.