What is the IELTS test?

"IELTS" stands for International English Language Testing System, and it is a test of English language proficiency. The test is designed to assess the language ability of non-native speakers of English, who intend to study or work where English is the language of communication." 

It is the test system that allows one to immigrate abroad for university or professional work. It has been around since 1980, more than 35 years now.

IELTS preparation - meaning

Why do we love teaching IELTS?

Language ability is hard to be measured, particularly the speaking and writing part. We consider the IELTS test to be one of the most rigorous, practical and flexible testing systems out there. If you want to master your English, participating in a reputable IELTS preparation course and taking the IELTS exam will help you immensely. Scoring a band 8 or above in the test (out of a total of nine bands in IELTS) means that you have achieved a very high level of proficiency in English.

Unlike TOEIC which focuses on only reading, and listening or TOFEL, which contains way more technical words and phrases, or GMAT (which can be tackled by using exam skills), IELTS covers loads of topics, mostly comprised of daily topics that surround people's conversation.

What questions are asked in the IELTS test?

IELTS Speaking

By checking out a few of the IELTS preparation courses, you can get to know the kinds of questions in the exam. Take the speaking test, for instance, there are three parts in IELTS speaking exam.

The questions in the first part of the speaking exam alone extend over more than 10 topics, despite the fact that all these questions are personal ones surrounding the candidate's life. These may include questions about your work, study, families, hobbies, favorite food, and future plan..etc.

Note that these are very broad topics. Let's look at the topic of hobbies for instance. Part 1 questions about this might include:

  • What do you usually do in your spare time?
  • What do you do when you have a holiday?
  • Who do you usually spend your holidays with?
  • Do you prefer to stay alone or with your friends?
  • What do you usually do with your friends?
  • Do you like reading?
  • What kinds of books do you like best?
  • Do you like English? Why or why not?
  • What are good hobbies and bad hobbies? Why?
  • How much time do you have each week for doing these things?
  • Why do you like doing these activities?
  • How did you start doing this activity at first?

IELTS Writing 

The writing exam is divided into 2 parts: task 1 and task 2. Let's take the IELTS writing task 2 for instance, almost all the writing topics can be classified into the following:

  1. Lifestyle 
  2. Technology 
  3. Society and Social Issues 
  4. Government Policies 
  5. Health
  6. Environment 
  7. Education 
  8. Science 

There are many essay topics for the IELTS exam and yes, sometimes the candidates get similar topics but the sheer number of topics in IELTS makes it really hard to predict the exam questions. Moreover, the 8 topics above are macro topics they each includes a broad range of subtopics. 

For example, under the macro-topic of "Lifestyle", there are subtopics like culture, rural vs. city life, museums, traveling and trips, spending habits, musics and theather…etc. A lot of them require the candidate to use critical thinking to form an opinion and justify it with examples and explanations. 

The same applies to the speaking exam. 

Our comment:

In short, IELTS is definitely not merely a language test; it is a systemic measurement of one's critical thinking and English ability.  Although there are past exam questions you can work on, like most of the certification exams held in Taiwan, its breadth of coverage is so tremendous that it is impossible to prepare for, and predict all the exam questions.

You will not only need to master the English language but also develop considerable skills for critical thinking, which is required in the academic essay writing and the more challenging part 3 speaking questions. For a start, you can read our blog, which gives you information about IELTS preparation.

What happens next?

This site presents you with a lot of free resources regarding IELTS speaking and writing, which we have collected and organized throughout our teaching careers. We hope that you will find it helpful in developing your IELTS skills as well as the critical-thinking skills lacking in many educational systems. 


Click here to learn about the IELTS test in Mandarin