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What is IELTS exam? How to write an essay for the IELTS exam?

IELTS exam: everything you need to know

If you are a student or worker and intend to pursue your career in an English-speaking country , then you can only take the IELTS exam !

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a test specially designed for anyone who wants to study or work in an English-speaking country. It is officially recognized as a linguistic verification for admission to university courses or for immigration practices.
In Italy it is managed by the British Council .

With over 2.5 million candidates every year, the IELTS exam is the most widespread language certification in the world , this is because it is considered essential if you are considering moving as a student or worker to an English-speaking country. Obtaining the IELTS certification will allow you to demonstrate your linguistic knowledge in an academic or professional context and obtain a language passport valid all over the world!

By taking the IELTS exam you will get a score ranging from 1 to 9 and will be indicative of the language level you have reached. It is important to remember that many institutions, including universities and companies, require the achievement of a certain score as a prerequisite for their candidacy; if you do not reach the desired score you will have to take the exam again.

Do you have other needs or maybe you want to get a language certificate without a deadline like IELTS has?
Discover other international English language certifications such as Cambridge ESOL exams !

TIP : Do you want to enter Cambridge University ? You will need a minimum IELTS of 7.5 , with a minimum of 7 on all sections!

THE IELTS TEST (International English Language Testing System)
In this article we will deal with everything related to the IELTS certification: we will talk about the methods of recognition of the IELTS, the types available, the IELTS scores, prices and much more. In this way you will have the opportunity to understand every aspect and answer all your doubts about this English certification.


IELTS is recognized by over 10,000 institutions in 130 countries around the world , including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Among the institutions that recognize the IELTS certification are:

  • High Schools and Universities (including over 3000 in the United States!)
  • Government bodies, especially immigration
  • Companies and professional bodies
  • The successful achievement of the certification will therefore not be binding only on English-speaking countries, but it can also be useful for organizations in countries whose first language is not English, such as foreign universities that offer courses in English.


IELTS is a product of Cambridge English Language Assessment, which runs it in partnership with the British Council and IDP IELTS Australia. Cambridge English Language Assessment is the founding association of the Cambridge English exams, which precede IELTS by many years, and which include the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) and the First Certificate in English (FCE).

The IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests are similar but not entirely identical. They share the same way of presenting results and two parts of the exam out of a total of four. IELTS Life Skills is completely different in that it only evaluates comprehension and oral expression skills, and only for an elementary or intermediate level of competence. This site provides information on IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests only. IELTS is a test written in paper format and is not available in an electronic version. Students write their answers on an answer sheet. It is not necessary to know how to use a computer to take the IELTS test.

The tests comprehension and oral expression are identical for the IELTS Academic test and IELTS General Training. The two written skills tests, reading and written production , are instead different for the two versions of the IELTS test.

All candidates taking an IELTS, Academic or General Training test must complete all four tests. The test results are available within 13 days. Reading, writing and listening comprehension tests are completed in a single session. The oral expression test can take place on the same day or up to 7 days before or after the other exams. Many students spend several months preparing for the IELTS test and taking practice exams before getting the result they need.

Which module to choose

First of all, it is good to point out that IELTS is not an exam and therefore no one is at risk of failing: it is an assessment of the knowledge of the English language, on a scale from 1 to 9. As far as there is no risk of not passing the exam, therefore, it is still necessary to consider that each university or state of the Common Law area establishes the minimum score required for the exam to be valid for (for example) admission to university courses, the achievement of a university degree or even to be able to work abroad. Both modules include four tests: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

The General Training module

It is the exam that all those who want to start working or dealing with immigration procedures in countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand must take. In this module, the Reading and Writing tests are simpler than those foreseen in the Academic version, while the remaining two, Listening and Speaking, are exactly the same.

The Academic module

This is the exam method that anyone who wants to attend university in a country in the “English-speaking” area must take. The Reading and Writing tests, as already mentioned, are more complex than the General module, as they are aimed at demonstrating the knowledge of an academic language suitable for study at the university level.

How the IELTS exam takes place

The exam is divided into four different modules. For the Listening and Reading tests, two booklets are given with the text of the exam and a sheet on which to write the answers. For the Writing test, on the other hand, another booklet is provided with the outline of the text and a protocol sheet where you can carry out your test. Finally, the Speaking module takes place “face to face” with the examiner, who immediately notes the language skills / abilities demonstrated by the candidate, as well as recording on tape.

The listening test lasts about 35 minutes, in which the candidate listens to a recording containing various dialogues on commonly used topics and fills in the form with the requested information: the purpose of this module is to evaluate the ability to grasp the details of a normal conversation, such as addresses, titles and names, and then report them on the separate sheet. The Listening test is identical for both Academic and General Training.

You will have one hour for the reading test. The candidate will have to read texts relating to the most diverse topics and, on the basis of these, answer the questions and complete the schemes or summaries that he finds on the sheet that is provided alongside. This test has different characteristics depending on the chosen module.
The Academic exam uses articles on scientific, historical, political and cultural topics: students must complete sentences, match titles to paragraphs of a text, answer short questions and establish the veracity or otherwise of certain statements reported.
The General Training module, on the other hand, uses short advertisements, descriptions of commercial activities and simpler articles: students are asked to complete sentences, answer some questions regarding the proposed text and establish the veracity of statements referring to the reference text.

The writing test also takes one hour. The candidate must write two different texts, one for each track provided. In the Academic version the students, as a first task, have to describe a diagram or graph, highlighting its characteristics. As a second task, however, they have to write on a specific topic, relevant to contemporary issues.
In the General Training module, on the other hand, the first task involves writing a letter according to the instructions given. The second passage, on the other hand, consists in the discussion by the candidate of a problem of a common nature, on which the candidate must express his or her opinion.

The conversation test takes about 15 minutes. The examiner asks questions that allow the candidate to discuss himself, his experiences and habits as well as current topics. This test also includes the presentation, by the examiner, of a sheet containing a request and the indications on how the candidate must present his / her answer, which must last about 2 minutes. In this test, the examiner evaluates pronunciation, vocabulary, communication skills, clarity, speed and fluency in responses.

The student will discover the results 14 days after the exam: in the Test Report Form the modules and the score obtained in each of them are listed, on a scale from 1 to 9. The average of the four marks thus obtained represents the final score of the examination. The minimum score that is required for immigration practices or to work abroad is generally never lower than the average of 4.5 or 5. To access the university or master’s degree, however, a minimum score of 6.5 or 7 (to check with your university).

Some tips for passing the exam successfully

The IELTS is not an impossible exam, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly either. It requires a lot of exercise and a good basic preparation, at least if you aspire to a score of 5 and up.
Each test hides pitfalls which, unfortunately, cause the score to drop dramatically due to errors which, with hindsight, turn out to be rather stupid or due to haste.
The Listening test requires a lot of attention in spelling and capitalization which, if omitted, can make a wrong answer.
In the Reading test it is necessary to read the questions very carefully, trying to understand how they are asked and what they aim to discover: often times, especially in the “true, false, not given” test, concerning the veracity or otherwise of the statements contained, they are decidedly deceptive.
The Writing test indicates how many words the text must categorically contain, and it can be very useful to try to always write the same number of words, in each line, to avoid having to count up to 400 just when time is running out.
Finally, Speaking does not present particular “pitfalls” except that, in the face of the examiner, the anxiety of succeeding well could be the first enemy.
As already mentioned, it is necessary to do a lot of practice because, indicatively, each student has their own “Achilles heel” and, therefore, one or more modules may be more difficult to deal with than the others.
Almost every language school in the UK offers the opportunity to attend exam preparation courses, which involve participation in real simulations and the provision of adequate feedback from teachers. See the destinations
Another thing to keep in mind is that the IELTS exam is very “crowded” in the sense that each session sees many students taking the tests. In order not to risk overbooking, therefore, it is a good idea to book well in advance (at least a couple of months), perhaps by contacting the agent with whom you booked the language stay, who will certainly be able to organize the preparation session – simulation – in the best possible way. examination. The most appropriate thing, in fact, is to choose a date immediately following the end of the lessons or, in any case, not far from them. Better to take the exam when you are still “fresh”


The IELTS exam includes two different versions depending on the purpose for which you intend to obtain the language certification; here is a brief description of the two versions.

ACADEMIC : aimed at those who wish to continue their higher education (Bachelor’s or Master’s) in an English-speaking country or in universities offering courses in English. It is a test aimed at demonstrating the candidate’s ability to understand and be able to express himself in an academic setting, in line with the demands of the different colleges and universities.

GENERAL TRAINING : suitable for those who take the exam for professional needs, or for immigration to English-speaking countries. If you want to move and work abroad, this version is for you!
The IELTS is in fact officially recognized for immigration purposes by the governments of: United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. In general, the test is less complex, as the candidate is required to know how to juggle common situations in social or work environments.


The winning keys to the best IELTS preparation are practice and total immersion in the test.
In fact, there are several high schools and language schools that offer exam preparation courses delayed throughout the year, however what makes the difference is full immersion .

If your goal is to truly learn the English language and successfully pass the IELTS exam and you are at least 16 years old, the winning solution is to attend a language course abroad focused on IELTS preparation.

In addition to live an ‘ experience abroad , you will be in contact with the best native teachers with whom you follow specific lessons of IELTS preparation , analyzing step by step each section of the test, discovering tricks and strategies to overcome it the best!
This type of training program is highly flexible and can be built at your discretion on the basis of your personal needs and requirements.

YouAbroad in fact builds and personalizes language courses abroad based on variables such as destination, duration, type of accommodation, type of course and your starting language level .

The courses are aimed at the objectives and the level of English of the participant who usually takes a language test on the first day of school, and is placed in a class corresponding to his / her previous language level.

In the specific case of the IELTS preparation course , the student will tend to take General English lessons in the morning and will carry out specific sessions on certification in the early afternoon.

The General Structure of the IELTS exam.

The IELTS test , regardless of the version chosen, provides that the candidate complete four modules : listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Although the exam has a total duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes , it is good to remember that the speaking test can take place on the day of the written tests or up to 7 days before / after the date of the written exam.

The listening and speaking sections are the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, the two versions differ however with regard to the reading and writing sections, requiring skills aimed at the purpose of the type of exam chosen.

To learn more about each section of the IELTS and to have free exam simulations, consult the official website of the British Council .

  • IELTS listening exam
  • LISTENING – 30 minutes

In this section you will have to listen to monologues, conversations and discussions with subsequent questions to verify their understanding.

40 questions structured according to different types: multiple choice, matching, short answers, filling of spaces, sentences and summaries.

The 4 sections of listening:

Section 1: conversation between two people in a daily social context
(eg a conversation set in a real estate agency)
Section 2: monologue in an everyday context
(eg discussion of activities to be planned in a future conference)
Section 3: A conversation in an academic or business context in which up to 4 people can be involved.
(Ex. A group of students discussing about an assigned project)
Section 4: a monologue on an academic topic
(Ex. A university lecture)
Please note: during the listening part you will need to be able to understand different accents. Each section is heard only once.

READING – 60 minutes

IELTS reading test

Following the reading of texts, you will be asked to answer some questions to verify your understanding.

40 questions including: multiple choice, identifying information (True / False / Not Given), identifying the statements / points of view of the author (True / False / Not Given), matching, completing sentences, tables or summaries, questions short, etc.

IELTS Academic

  • Each section contains medium / long text.
  • The texts are authentic and taken from books, magazines and newspapers.
  • It is possible in the texts there is non-verbal material, such as diagrams, graphics and illustrations; if the texts contain technical terms, you will be provided with a glossary.
  • IELTS General Training

The General Training version has three sections:

Section 1: provides 2-3 informative texts on topics of daily interest (eg advertising of a hotel).
Section 2: contains 2 informative texts focused on issues concerning the working environment (eg job advertisements, company policies, terms and conditions, etc.)
Section 3: contains a single long text, more complex but focused on a topic of daily interest.
Also texts of the General Training version are real and can be extrapolated from: advertisements, company manuals, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Please note: the overall length of the proposed texts is 2150-2750 words

WRITING – 60 minutes

IELTS exam writing
In the writing section you will be evaluated based on 4 factors:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical search
  • Grammatical research and accuracy

You will be asked to complete 2 Tasks, that is to compose two texts: a first paragraph of 150 words and a second, more complex, of 250 words.

IETLS Academic
Style required: academic, semi-formal / neutral.

Task 1
To complete Task 1, you will need to compose a 150-word report about the information provided by a chart, table or diagram.
In this section, your ability to select the main data, describe and compare it or describe a process (for example, how something works or how it is done) will be tested.

Task 2
The second Task is more complex, you will be asked to produce a 250 word text about a proposed problem. You will be asked to organize your ideas clearly and give examples to support your thesis.

IELTS General Training
Style required: personal, semi-formal / neutral.

Task 1
In Task 1 you will have to answer a problem with a 150 word letter asking for information or explaining a situation.

Task 2
Similar to Task 2 of the Academic version, you will be required to write a 250 word text justifying an opinion or discussing a certain topic. Unlike the Academic, you will be able to use a more personal style.

Note: it is advisable to spend 20 minutes on task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2, as it is more complex and heavier in the correction. Remember to check the clock to avoid wasting time!

SPEAKING – 11-14 minutes

IELTS speaking exam

In this section you will be supported by a partner and you will have to demonstrate that you can express yourself orally in English on the basis of 4 criteria:

  • Fluency and consistency
  • Lexical search
  • Grammatical research and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

The 3 parts of speaking IELTS:

Part 1 – Introduction and Presentation (4-5 minutes)
The examiner introduces himself and asks you to do the same. He will then ask some questions on general topics (for example: home, family, school, work, interests, etc.) to make you comfortable before starting with the more specific parts of the exam.

Part 2 – Individual part (3-4 minutes)
The examiner will give you a Task Card in which you will be asked to talk about a certain topic covering specific points. You will then have 1 minute to prepare your speech and write down on a sheet (which will be provided to you) the ideas that you will then develop. You will then be given 1-2 minutes to talk and then the examiner will ask you a few questions about what has just been said.

Part 3 – Discussion in pairs (4-5 minutes)
The examiner will proceed by asking further questions related to the topics discussed in the second part; in this section you will have the opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Please note: showing interest in what your partner is saying is essential, not only will it allow you to know how to answer any questions from the examiner, but it is an indicator of respect, therefore it will earn you extra points!

How to write an essay for the IELTS exam?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test that examines the candidate’s English language skills. In the IELTS essay section, students are required to compose two short essays demonstrating mastery of writing in the English language. As the IELTS exam is often used to determine university admission or immigration to English-speaking nations, it can be very important to perform well in the IELTS essay section. To write a good IELTS essay, it is important to understand the essay section requirements, practice before the test, read the essay instructions carefully, and plan the essay before writing it.

The IELTS essay section is graded based on several criteria, including correct tone and format, vocabulary mastery, cohesion and clarity. Understanding the tone and format comes from reading comprehension; for example, a person will need to be able to tell if messages require a letter or an informative explanation and if the tone is formal or informal. The vocabulary component looks at things like word choice, correct use and use of idiomatic phrases. Cohesion and clarity both have to do with how well the essay is put together, whether it flows from sentence to sentence and from introduction to conclusion, or whether it is unstable and jumps around.

Tutorial essays are a great way to improve performance in all of the above categories. There are dozens of instructions and example guides for getting better scores available on the Internet and through the IELTS website. Doing practice essays can also help a test participant familiarize themselves with the time limit for the IELTS essay section, as it is not usually allowed to go over time. Finding an IELTS tutor or study group can be very helpful in determining possible scores on practice essays. Tutors can offer their services online or through other advertising forms, such as newspaper ads. It is important to ask for references before hiring a tutor, as good tutors are likely to have a list of happy past students who did well on the test.

When testing, it is important to take a few minutes to read the message carefully and make sure it is clear what type of writing is required. Once the tone, style and format is determined, it is often considered useful for brainstorming important ideas that can be used in the answer. After brainstorming, ideas can be organized into paragraphs. With an introductory paragraph and conclusion, the IELTS essay can then be written in an organized fashion, with the writer shifting the focus to ensure transitional vocabulary and phrases are incorporated to enhance clarity and cohesion.

What is the TOEFL Test?

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers who wish to enroll in English-speaking universities. It is a requirement of most US universities. TOEFL is one of the two leading English language tests in the world, the other being IELTS which is widely accepted in the UK .

TOEFL exams are established and managed by an independent company ( ETS ) which issues official scores to institutions. The results are valid for two years.

The four-hour test consists of four sections, each measuring one of the basic language skills.

What are the IELTS and TOEFL TEST programs?

The intensive IELTS and TOEFL test programs have been designed for talented students who intend to study at the best universities in the world or for all people who are required to be certified to progress into a job position.

Our goal is to ensure that you score 7.5 or higher for the IELTS and over 100 for the TOEFL. IELTS exams are generally organized by the British Council and take place regularly at British Council centers or other examination centers.

TOEFL exams, on the other hand, are organized by the ETS and are held in facilities approved by that organization.

Elab will provide you with more information on the centers that are most suitable for you.

What do the IELTS and TOEFL TEST programs include?

  • Lessons twice a week;
  • 90-minute sessions – 30 hours with teacher + 60 hours of practice;
  • Individual sessions;
  • Groups up to max. 10 people (online);
  • Study materials provided: films, presentations, books, etc .;
  • Homework assigned after each session.

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