The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the most commonly used English language test for higher education in the world, so if you’re thinking of coming to study in Australia, you’ve probably heard of it before. As mentioned in our blog about the Australian visa process, you will need to prove your English language proficiency to be approved for an Australian visa and the IELTS Australia is the most common way students around the world fulfil this requirement. Exams often seem like a daunting task, but there are plenty of ways you can work on your English skills and ace the exam! We’ll run you through the structure of the exam, how to register and pay for the IELTS Australia fee and also explain the IELTS results. We’ve included a few tips and tricks along the way too, so here’s your helpful guide to the IELTS for Australia.
First of all, let’s outline exactly which exam you will need to take. There are two versions of the exam – the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. If you are a student applying for undergraduate or postgraduate studies in Australia, the IELTS Academic test is the exam you need to take.
The IELTS test has four components – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The Listening, Reading and Writing tests always take place together on the same day and there are no breaks between the sections. However, the Speaking testing may occur on a different day and can be scheduled a week before or after the day of the other tests.
Listening – 30 minutes
The Listening component has four sections and you will be played four different recordings in this order:
Recording 1 – an everyday conversation between two people.
Recording 2 – a monologue about an everyday topic.
Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people about an education or training topic.
Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject.
Each recording will only be played once and they can’t be paused at any time.
- Familiarise yourself with different English accents because the IELTS Listening tests always involve more than one native English accent. A really easy way to do this is to watch different shows/movies from different English speaking countries on Netflix – an easy and productive study break!
- Use the pauses between listening sections to your advantage! Read and highlight keywords in the next question to get an understanding of what the next recording will be about before it starts.
Reading – 60 minutes
The Reading test has 3 sections. They will test you using all types of question formats, for example multiple choice, true or false, information matching, short answer questions etc. A full description of the all question formats they may include is outlined on their website.
Section 1 – two or three texts about topics relevant to everyday life e.g. hotels or transport.
Section 2 – two factual texts focusing on work-related issues such as jobs or work training.
Section 3 – a longer, more complex text on an academic topic of interest.
All texts come from real-life sources such as magazines, books or advertisements and they try to keep them interesting and engaging.
- As all texts come from real life sources, the best way to improve your reading skills is to read articles from current newspapers and magazines. In the past, many IELTS readings have come from publishers such as BBC News, The Economist, National Geographic etc. Exploring content on these sites will prepare you for the types of texts you will be tested on in the exam.
- Try reading the questions before the text. If you know what information you are looking for you can identify answers as you read along.
Writing – 60 minutes
You will be required to complete two writing tasks.
Task 1 – you will be given a graph, table, chart or diagram and then have to describe and explain the visual in at least 150 words.
Task 2 – you will have to form an opinion and write an answer in response to a point of view or argument in at least 250 words.
- Plan out your written response before you start writing. You will be assessed on content, vocabulary and grammar, and also your organisation of ideas. Therefore, a well organised answer will help get you full marks!
- Task 2 is worth twice as many marks as Task 1, so pay attention to time and don’t leave Task 2 to the last minute.
Speaking – 11-14 minutes
Most people find the speaking component of a language test the most nerve racking, but the more you practice, the more confident you will be in your speaking abilities. This component has three parts:
Part 1 – The Introduction and interview
Introduce yourself to the examiners and chat about everyday topics such as your home, family, hobbies etc.
Part 2 – Individual long turn
You will be given a task card with a specific topic, which you will have to talk about for 1-2 minutes.
Part 3 – Two-way discussion
The examiner will ask you more questions related to your given topic. The questions are designed to allow you to discuss the topic in depth and share your ideas.
- Don’t be afraid to share your opinion! You will be assessed on your ability to communicate and justify your own opinions, so sharing your point of view will show your confidence in speaking English.
- Talking with your friends in English about everyday topics is the easiest way to build confidence in your speaking abilities. Chat about your family, your hobbies or what you did on the weekend – any general conversion is great practice for Part 1. Here is a list of frequently asked questions to give you some ideas:
- How many siblings to you have?
- What kind of books to you like to read?
- What is your favourite pass time?
- Where did you grown up?
- Do you currently have a job?
How do I register for the IELTS Australia?
Step 1: Find a IELTS testing location
There are over 1,100 test centres around the world. All testing locations are listed online by country.
The IELTS now also has a new test format available to students called Computer Delivered IELTS. This format has been designed to make it easier for students to take the test at their convenience from their location.
Step 2: Register for the IELTS
Once you have found your nearest testing centre, you can apply by clicking ‘Book Now’. Registration is easy as you can register and pay online. Alternatively, you can download an online application form and bring it along to your testing location.
The IELTS Australia fee is AUD 330, however, if you are taking the test overseas this fee will be in your local currency.
Step 3: Book your IELTS test
Confirm a date and time for your test. Once your booking and application has been processed your testing centre will send you a written confirmation with the details of your test.
Step 4: The Test
Make sure you bring the same identification document you used during registration to prove your identity on the day of the test. Your photo will also be taken as a security measure and this photo will go on your official results form. Arrive early, be relaxed and good luck!
IELTS results Australia
IELTS results use a 9-band scale. The scale goes from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).
A score is given to each of the four skills in the test and then these scores are averaged to produce an overall band score between 1-9.
To apply for an Student Visa (Subclass 500), you will need a minimum 5.5 IELTS band for Australia. In general, Australia’s top universities require a 6.5 overall score with a minimum of 6.0 across all four components. However, no score can be labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it really depends on where and what you want to study.
Results are released 13 days after sitting the test and you can either pick up your Test Report Form from your testing centre or have it mailed to you. You can also preview your results online for 28 days but this online preview is not an official results page, so it can’t be used for university or visa applications. Your Test Report Form will also be sent to five organisations of your choice for free by your testing location. Unfortunately, replacement Test Report Forms will not be made if they are lost – so always keep your copy safe!
Your IELTS score is valid for 2 years. This means universities and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection accept test scores from no more than two years before you make a visa/university application.
If you are unhappy with your score, there are no limits on how many times you can re-take the test. You can always do more sample questions, practice speaking English with your friends, re-register and give the exam another shot!
What can I do to prepare?
There are endless ways to brush up on your English skills and prepare for your IELTS exam.
The IELTS organisation has provided free sample test questions online. Going through these is a great way to familiarise yourself with the format and types of questions they will be asking. Here’s a couple more websites to get you started:
IELTS centres and language schools will offer IELTS preparation courses and training courses are also available online:
IELTS Online offers Express and Master IELTS courses. The Express course lasts for 45 days for a fee of AUD 49. The Master course goes for 90 days and costs AUD 90.
Don’t forget that increasing your exposure to the English language will always help you build your vocabulary. Therefore, even simple activities such as watching the television or listening to the radio in English can always be beneficial and help you in your IELTS preparation.
Proving your English proficiency is an important step in visa and university applications, if you have more questions about any of these processes don’t hesitate to talk to us at The Student Housing Company or chat to us on Facebook.