Sunday, April 11, 2010

Taking the IELTS exam in the UK

I am an IELTS tutor and have taught IELTS exam preparation to many different nationalities.
The IELTS exam is accepted as proof of English ability worldwide because it is a measure of your ability to communicate in English in a real-world context.  The IELTS exam tests your English listening, reading, writing and speaking abilities.  Scoring high on this exam will greatly influence your ability to work or study abroad.  The IELTS exam is used by students who wish to study in the UK and by those wishing to immigrate to and work in the UK.

IELTS for Education in the UK

Most educational institutions in the UK use the IELTS exam to make admissions decisions.   These institutions feel that the IELTS is a good assessment of a candidate’s ability to study and work in an environment using the English language.  For most universities and academic institutions, you will need to take the Academic IELTS rather than the General IELTS.

The Academic IELTS will test your knowledge in four areas:  writing, reading, speaking and listening.  The test taker is given a band score, ranging from 1 to 9, for each of the four areas.  Most universities in the UK will require a minimum IELTS band score between 5.5 and 7.  Before taking the IELTS exam, be sure to check the requirements at the institution you are interested in.

Students wishing to study abroad in the UK must receive a student visa under Tier 4 of the UK Border Agency’s Points Based System (PBS).  You need 40 points to be able to apply for and receive the student visa.  You will receive 30 points for “sponsorship” by an approved education provider in the UK.  In order to get these 30 points, you will need to meet the requirements of the education provider, which will include their minimum IELTS score.  The other 10 points are proof that you have money to study in the UK.

If you wish to study in the UK, it is critical that you take the IELTS and achieve as high a score as possible.  By doing this you increase your chances of success.

IELTS for Immigration into the UK

IELTS is used as proof of your language ability for immigration into the UK.  Your scores are also used to demonstrate English ability when registering as a professional to work in the UK.  One example in the UK is for nurses who wish to work in the UK.

The United Kingdom Border Agency is using IELTS for proof of English language ability in the Points Based System (PBS).  PBS allows migrants to apply to work or study in the UK via one of five ‘tiers’. If applying under Tier 1 or 2, migrants are required to provide proof of English language ability.  IELTS is an approved English language test which can provide this proof. 

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country or hold a degree taught in English you will need to obtain an English language qualification, such as the IELTS.  Meeting the minimum IELTS standard is an all or nothing test.  If you meet the minimum you are awarded 10 points in the PBS, if you do not meet the minimum you will receive 0 points.  If you do not receive 10 points for English in the PBS, your application for immigration will be refused regardless of any other points you receive.  The approximate IELTS band score required to meet the minimum is 6.5.

The IELTS exam has two options for taking the tests:  the General IELTS exam or the Academic IELTS.  If you are planning to study at the undergraduate or post graduate level in the UK, take the Academic IELTS.  If you are going to the UK for other reasons, such as for work or training programs or for immigration purposes, take the General IELTS exam. 

Regardless of which IELTS Exam you take, it is essential to prepare adequately so that you can obtain the best possible score.  Check out my IELTS Preparation Tips to get you started!

I am a qualified ESL tutor. If you need help with preparing for the IELTS exam email me :

ESL Conversation Classes

Participating in an ESL conversation class can be instrumental in increasing your English fluency as well as help you in preparing for testing.  Many foreigners need and benefit from conversation classes to improve their spoken, everyday English.  One important feature of these classes is that they can provide a comfortable environment for the ESL student to gain speaking practice.  Many ESL students do not feel confident holding conversations with native speakers, and this practice is a great confidence builder in addition to a skill builder.  ESL conversation classes serve three main purposes:  Skill Building, Test Preparation, and Confidence Building.

Skill Building
While the technical aspects of English are important for writing and in an academic setting, most of the ESL student’s use of the language will be in spoken form.  As with any other skill, practice is critical.  By participating in a conversation class, you will be given the opportunity to practice English in a comfortable, structured environment.  Your fluency and vocabulary in the language will increase as you participate in these classes.

Test Preparation
Any test of your English ability will measure your knowledge of the technical and written aspects of the language.  However, the tests typically will also measure your abilities in speaking English and listening to English.  Again, the practice you will get from a conversation class will help you in increasing your scores on these areas of the tests.  In addition, conversation classes typically focus their discussions on various topics relevant to everyday life.  Participating in these discussions will give you exposure to topics which may be new to you and give you a base of knowledge that you can draw upon for writing topics on English tests.

Confidence Building
It can be quite intimidating to converse with a native speaker in a language which you are just learning.  Oftentimes the ESL learner will avoid opportunities to practice speaking skills because of this fear. Participating in conversation classes provides a supportive environment to help you practice the language. You will feel more comfortable trying out your English speaking and experimenting with new vocabulary and ways of saying things.  Once you have had the opportunity to gain practice, you will have more confidence applying your speaking skills with native speakers.

A typical ESL conversation class will focus on a topic of discussion.  Depending on the level of the class, students will make notes of their thoughts on the topic before participating in the conversation. Often relevant vocabulary is identified and discussed with the ESL tutor.

Participating in a conversation class can be an enjoyable experience that will help you increase your fluency, skill, and confidence in spoken English. If you are looking for a conversation class, send me an email and I will be happy to help you find a class that will suit your needs.  I am a qualified ESL tutor and have successfully coached many English learners. 

email me :