Getting to Know the IELTS Exam

Skye Savage is a BridgeEnglish instructor who teaches IELTS test preparation. 

You’ve worked hard to get your English in top shape, but now you have to prove it. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one way to do that. This UK-based English proficiency exam is an increasingly popular choice for immigration agencies, universities, and workplaces needing to verify your English ability.

Taking a high-stakes language exam would make anyone nervous, but there are plenty of ways to increase your confidence and make your test-day go as smoothly as possible. This article will introduce you to the basic format of the exam and provide you with some tips as you prepare for the exam.

General or Academic?

When registering for the IELTS exam, you have the option to take the General Test or the Academic Test. It’s up to you to make sure you don’t take the wrong one! The exams differ in two key sections: Reading and Writing. Before you register for the test, you should ask the agency requiring the exam which module they require.

The Academic exam will test you on topics relating to specific academic disciplines, and you will have to demonstrate your ability to analyze diagrams or graphs in English. The General exam will feature questions about every-day topics and social situations, and will look at your ability to understand directions, advertisements, and guides. The general test is most often asked for by immigration agencies and work eligibility services. The academic exam is almost exclusively used by universities and other education institutions.

When should I take the exam?

Planning ahead is critical when registering for the IELTS exam. Give yourself plenty of time to study and learn about the test, but make sure your scores will be available when you need them. IELTS releases scores 13 days after your test day, but you will likely need more time to send scores to universities. Make sure you know when your deadlines are. Try to sign up for a test date at least one month before your deadline if possible.

Preparing for the exam

How you prepare will not only impact your test scores, but your stress levels on test day. Bridge offers many different options for test preparation as you prepare for the exam via our IELTS Power Prep programs. Taking an online Mock Exam is a great way to familiarize yourself with the test format, and identify any sections where you may need to improve.

If you learn best in a classroom environment or would like live feedback, the On-Site IELTS Preparation Course may be the way to go. Taking place in our Downtown Denver office, this one-day course will cover every aspect of the exam. It includes an IELTS Textbook, and your instructor will be able to help you with any question you might have. If you have a friend or family member who will be taking the test as well, IELTS Power Prep On-Site Prep Course is a great way to get studying together.

If you need a minimum of a 6.0 or 6.5 on the Academic Test, check out Bridge’s IELTS Guarantee Program. This course is specially designed for those looking to attend a university in an English-speaking country with a STEM focus. You’ll get the full Bridge English experience as well as lots of test practice and teacher feedback. With 12 months of study (or less!) you’ll know you’re at the level to get the score you need. This is a great choice if you want to avoid taking the test multiple times.

When you’re ready to take the IELTS, we’re here for you! Bridge is the official testing center in Colorado

Don’t fear the IELTS– prepare for it with an IELTS Power Prep courses or the IELTS Guarantee Program at Bridge, and we’ll be with you every step of the way. Read more about the IELTS Test: Prepare to take the IELTS – a Chronological Guide.