The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test used to assess non-native English speakers’ English language skills.
The test has been widely acknowledged as one of the primary eligibility criteria for international students and those wishing to relocate from non-native English-speaking regions to other nations. It began over 40 years ago and was launched by English language experts from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. IELTS is conducted in two formats namely, Academic and General. Both of these tests have their own purposes.
The IELTS Academic is designed for students who desire to study at university or college as an undergraduate or postgraduate student, or who want to join or acquire admittance into a professional institution. The test is accepted by approximately 11,000 organizations in over 140 countries, according to the organizers. When evaluating overseas students’ admission applications, educational institutions typically require a minimum specified score (on a scale of 1 to 10) from them.
IELTS General Training
This test is typically used for those attempting to relocate to English-speaking countries from non-native English-speaking regions. It is also occasionally necessary for admission to secondary school, college, or an educational training center.
The IELTS exam is divided into four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Whereas the writing and reading sections differ between Academic and General examinations, the speaking and listening components are nearly identical between the two types of tests.
Post COVID-19 changes
Although there has been no significant change in the test substance, structure, marking, or security, there has been a minor adjustment in the exam’s speaking section. Previously, the exam was always given in person, and the examiner would debate a topic with the student and grade him on it.
However, a student’s speaking test may be completed through video call at times. When the exam venue details are sent to the student through email, the times of the video conference are communicated to them. In addition, the speaking test includes rapid-fire questions, in which the examiner can ask fast questions during the talk and the student must respond swiftly.
This is part of the launch of an online exam format. This has enabled students to take the test at their leisure, whether at home or elsewhere.
“The new online test will be delivered through a purpose-built platform loaded with security features to ensure test integrity,” Lucia Figar, President and CEO of The Global College in Spain’s Madrid said.
Candidates should keep in mind, however, that the IELTS indicator, which is the online or “at home” version, is not accepted by all colleges. The coronavirus pandemic also affected IELTS test takers and organizing authorities. However, the organizers did their utmost to find alternatives.
The Academic test was only available for a brief time, while IELTS testing in its conventional formats was halted owing to COVID-19. Many candidates in India, particularly in the country’s north, used to rely on IELTS tutoring sessions. As Covid-19 swept throughout the country, closing down all educational institutes and coaching centres, IELTS coaching suffered as well.
“Pandemic did affect candidates for a brief period due to the restricted movements and temporary shutdown of the test centres. Given the importance of the test in a candidate’s study abroad process, we wanted to come up with a solution that’d still allow them to take the test during the pandemic,” Piyush Kumar, Regional Director (South Asia) of IDP Education said.
“We launched the IELTS Indicator, an online test for study abroad aspirants that could be taken from the comfort and safety of the home during those tough times. The Academic test was available for a limited time while IELTS testing was suspended in its standard formats due to COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, as a result of the shutdown, tutoring has gradually transferred online. The majority of IELTS trainers now provide sessions online, either in groups or individually. The advantage is that it saves the student’s commuting time. In addition, students living in smaller locations can now receive IELTS tutoring from IELTS coaches situated in major cities without having to travel.
On requesting anonymity, an IELTS coach from Panchkula, Haryana, stated that many of his pupils at his institute have returned to classes following the phased reopening, but their “skills have taken a turn for the worse.”
“One needs to practice every day and that too in the presence of an expert. This is especially more important for people who come from rural areas. However, with the Covid shutdown, many students lost that practice, and that led to some of my students not being able to crack the exam this time. While some cleared, some need more practice now,” he said.
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