The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) comprises four sections: speaking, listening, reading and writing. There are two levels: general training and academic.
The speaking section comes in three parts. Part one is the first basic level of standardized personal questions. Part two is a one to two minute speech on a random topic. Part three is a discussion-based assessment where the examiner engages the student in a Q&A (question and answer) session.
The listening section requires knowledge and familiarity with British, American, Australian, and neutral accents. Test-takers listen to a wide range of conversations and must fill in the blanks with key words.
There are 40 questions where the test-taker must identify timetables, details based on everyday social/academic contexts, and discussion points in settings such as a university lecture, students asking for directions, and requesting contact information.
The academic reading section contains three articles taken from newspapers, magazines, journals, and books. The test-taker needs to identify the gist of the article, the writer’s opinion, purpose, tone, details, and the main ideas.
The general training reading section similarly has three articles. The first section focuses on social situations, the second section focuses on workplace contexts, and the third section involves reading descriptive and instructive texts taken from newspapers, magazines, fictional and non-fictional books.
The academic writing section is split into two parts. Part one requires a 150-word analytical report of a pie chart, bar graph, table, or flow chart where the test-taker must look for highlights, trends, and patterns. Part two is a 250-word essay where the test-taker must identify a position and support reasoning with examples from academic sources and personal experience.
For the general training writing response, a test-taker is to write a 150-word letter with an objective such as recovering lost items from a hotel, writing to a friend, or asking for recommendations.
In our IELTS lessons, we first assess the candidate’s target score through a series of mock tests on each section with past testing content. After assessment, we outline the IELTS grading criteria (split into four categories: task achievement, lexical resource, coherence and cohesion, grammatical range and accuracy) and align with critical areas of improvement. For example, if the student’s target score is 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each category, we improve on the student’s strengths for the highest score in the relevant category. Then, as writing tends to be the most difficult category for test-takers in Thailand, a skill-based approach is used to improve the students use of conventions, transitions, essay structure, and range of vocabulary.