So, you've just completed your pre-university studies.

Congratulations! What's your next step?

From deciding which programme to study for your undergraduate studies to deciding to study locally or overseas, we get that you'll be facing a series of decision-making in the coming months.

As you're carefully browsing the programme details, programme structures and fee details, your eyes suddenly pause at the English language requirement section of your desired programme.

Ooops, you find out that you may need to start preparing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) if you intend to have a smooth application.

What are the necessary steps you should take next?

Fret not, we got you covered!

In this article, we will go through some of the important information on the IELTS exam in terms of its format, cost, tested components, marking scheme and what you should prepare on the actual day of your IELTS test.

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Who Should Register For IELTS?

But first, let's start with the core purposes of taking the IELTS test.

When it comes to this test, most candidates will either choose to sit for the regular IELTS Academic test or the IELTS General Training test. Only a small group of candidates will opt for the IELTS for UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration).

Having said that, if you are currently a student who is preparing for an undergraduate or postgraduate programme (local or overseas), you should register for the IELTS Academic test. If you are considering registration at a professional body (health science, accounting, engineering) in an English-speaking country, you can also take the IELTS Academic test.

On the other hand, if you are already a working adult who is applying for a job vacancy that is based overseas or if you're planning to migrate to an English-speaking country, you can register for the IELTS General Training test.

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An IELTS certificate acts like a passport that can take you on a global studying or working adventure.
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

In short, you're either taking this test as proof of your English language proficiency to improve your higher education prospects or enhance your employability on the local and international scene.

Keep your eyes on this article as we will talk about the main differences between these two tests later.

How Much Does IELTS Cost In Malaysia?

We can't avoid money talks when we're talking about IELTS.

For the regular IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic papers, the total fee that you have paid is RM795 whereas the examination fees for the IELTS UKVI papers are RM895.

Bear in mind that the cost of this test is significantly higher compared to the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) because IELTS is a renowned language proficiency test that is globally recognized by various academic institutions, professional organizations, government agencies and corporations. 

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Paper-Based IELTS vs Computer Delivered IELTS, What's The Difference?

As you continue to review the details of the IELTS test and reach the registration section, you will be asked to pick between a paper-based IELTS or computer-delivered IELTS as your answering method for your test day.

Don't be flustered when you see these two choices.

Let's say you have decided to sit for the IELTS Academic test, the questions for both the paper-based and computer-delivered test will be the same. There's no such thing that paper-based IELTS is more difficult to answer or vice versa.

Regardless of the examination mode, all candidates will sit for the Listening Reading and Writing components in one seating. The Speaking test will be conducted separately with an interviewer. During the test, they will either pen down their full answers on paper or type their answers on a provided computer by the IELTS examination centre. The duration for each component remains the same.

The major difference between these two tests is how fast you will receive your IELTS results. 

For paper-based IELTS tests, your official results will be released approximately 13 days after you have completed your test.

For computer-delivered IELTS tests, your official results will be released between 3 to 5 days after you have completed your test.

Learn more about the latest structure of the IELTS papers when you read this article. 

What Components Will You Be Tested For Your IELTS Test?

It's time to dive deep into every tested component for your IELTS test.

  • Listening

Candidates will come across four sections in this paper.

The first section usually involves a social conversation between two speakers. The second section will feature one speaker who talks about social topics. The third section normally has 2 to 4 speakers engaging in a conversation on educational topics. The final section would revolve around a speaker talking about a general topic. The duration of the listening test is 30 minutes. 

  • Reading

Candidates will need to read three passages and answer 40 questions based on them. 

Depending on whether you're sitting for the IELTS Academic test or IELTS General Training test, the passages can be taken from extracts from newspapers, magazines, journals, and books (academic) or extracts from advertisements, brochures, and pamphlets featuring general interest topics (general training). The duration of the reading test is 60 minutes. 

  • Writing

For both IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic test, candidates will be given two writing tasks.

The test duration is 60 minutes. For Academic Writing Task 1, candidates will be asked to summarise or explain the given information based on a table, chart or illustration. For General Training Writing Task 1, candidates will be asked to write a formal/semi-formal letter.

When it comes to Task 2 of the writing test, candidates will be asked to write a 250-word essay based on an argument, problem or point of view.

Sample question: Online shopping is the new normal these days but some people think that it is problematic. 

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With consistent practice, you can do well for both tasks in your IELTS Writing test.
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  • Speaking

Candidates will sit for this speaking test with an examiner and the whole test takes 11 to 14 minutes. 

During the first part of this test, the examiners tend to ask candidates about themselves (their family, hobbies, favourite books or movies etc).

For the second part of the test, candidates will be given a task card by the examiner and the candidate will be given one minute to prepare to talk about the topic that is listed on the card. The candidates will then talk for 1 to 2 minutes based on the topic followed by a short Q and A session from the examiner.

For the final part of the test, candidates and the examiner will engage in a two-way discussion based on the topic that they have talked about in the second part. Candidates are encouraged to actively express their thoughts and elaborate on their opinions throughout the discussion.

Explore the overall marking scheme of the different tested components in your IELTS assessment.

How Will You Be Graded For Your IELTS?

When it comes to receiving the final band score of your IELTS tests, do bear in mind that your final IELTS certificate will clearly show both your overall band core and the individual band score of all your tested components.

The average score of your Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking components produces your overall band score.

For the listening and reading components, you will be graded according to the number of correct answers that you get for the 40 questions.

For your writing and speaking components, you will be graded according to the IELTS marking scheme for writing and speaking which you can access for free via the official IELTS website.

You can refer to the table below for the overall general descriptors for the IELTS band scores.

IELTS Band ScoresSkill Level Description
9Expert userHas full operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
8Very good userHas fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
7Good userHas operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6Competent userHas generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5Modest userHas partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
4Limited userBasic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
3Extremely limited userConveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
2Intermittent user No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1Non userEssentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
0Did not attempt the test No assessable information provided at all.

For example, if this is your band score for the tested components:

  • Listening: Band 6.5
  • Reading: Band 6.5
  • Writing: Band 5.0
  • Speaking: Band 7.0

The overall band score for your IELTS test will be 6.5

Important tip: The result of your IELTS test is valid for two years. So make sure you take the test at the right time.

Interested to strengthen your English skills with an English tutor? 

Head to the Superprof Malaysia homepage and start browsing for an experienced and reliable English tutor. You can even opt for face-to-face or online lessons according to your preferences.

Your Superprof English tutor can help you with the following areas:

  • Correct usage of grammar range in your writing and speaking
  • Provide you good feedback on how to have clearer and more accurate pronunciation
  • Answering techniques for your listening, reading and writing components 
  • Build your confidence during your IELTS exam preparation 
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Having an English tutor during your IELTS exam preparation is a huge encouragement and motivation.
Source: Xframe

Read this article to find out how to get a good grade for your IELTS General Training Paper.

What Should You Take Note Of During The Actual Day Of Your IELTS Test?

You're almost there. It's a day before your actual IELTS test day. Keep calm and follow these three tips to have a smooth examination!

  • Tip 1: Bring your IC or passport and proof of registration for identification purposes 
  • Tip 2: Wear formal and neat clothing because you'll be taking your picture for your IELTS certificate on the same day 
  • Tip 3: Make sure you don't miss out on any answers and double-check them
  • Tip 4: Check and finalise the details of your IELTS Test Report (whether to receive by post to your home/your requested institutions) after your test.

Discover other tips to master your IELTS Academic papers here. 

We hope you enjoyed reading this IELTS exam guide. May you achieve your desired IELTS band score as you apply for your dream job or dream programme of study, be it in Malaysia or overseas!

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An avid reader and writer, Joycelyn loves the art of communication and is passionate about all kinds of media.