Friday, November 8, 2013

IELTS - let's clear any misunderstandings

A lot of people approach me for IELTS lessons saying, "Helen, I need to pass IELTS, can you help me?"  The answer to this is a little tricky.  First of all, there is no such thing as a "pass" in IELTS.  IELTS is not a certificate in the way that Cambridge Proficiency or Michigan ECCE is.  That is, you don't learn a particular level of English in order to get a certificate.  Instead, what IELTS does is it certifies your current level of English.  So if you if your level of English is, for example, intermediate, this will most likely be reflected in your IELTS score.  No teacher can teach you to "pass" IELTS if your English is not at a level that it needs to be. 

For postgraduate studies in English-speaking universities, the IELTS scores required vary.  Typically, most universities want at least a 6.5.   Some will require an overall score of 7 with at least 6 in each area or some will specify 7 in all areas.  Check with the universities you are interested in to be sure. 

So what is a 6.5 or 7?  the IELTS website provides this guideline .  For those of you who are familiar with Cambridge ESOL exams, a B2 is a First Certificate and a C1 is an Advanced.  Could you pass these tests with at least a 60%?  If so, you are well on your way to getting a 6.5 or 7.  If not, then what you and your teacher need to do is improve your English to get it to this level.  This will take some time and effort and is also one of the reasons I advise most people not to self-prepare. 

If you are unsure of your English level, there are some English placement tests available on the Internet.   Or, contact me for some. 

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