The International English Language Testing System (IELTS®) is a standardized measure of English proficiency, usually required for individuals intending to take classes or work in English-speaking countries. Most individuals study for the IELTS® by taking classes designed specifically to maximize results during the actual exam. The classes typically include lectures, practice exercises, and mock examinations; these courses can be taken in a physical classroom setting or online. It is not uncommon for individuals to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL™) as practice for the IELTS®. Other test-takers prefer more natural methods of study, choosing to speak and be spoken to only in English in the days prior to the exam.
Individuals who want to study for the IELTS® can begin by locating review classes near their area. Most major cities have at least one IELTS® review center that offers a variety of schedules for both full-time and part-time students. Reputable schools and institutions of higher learning might also offer courses for IELTS® study. Many classes advertise online and can be found easily via search engine.
These courses help test-takers study for the IELTS® by providing material relevant to the exam itself. Classes typically cover the four main subject areas of the test: listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English. Although the first three sections are easily taken online, reviewing for the speaking portion of the exam is usually more effective when the reviewer is physically present. In order to study for the IELTS® effectively, test-takers should score a predetermined baseline mark or higher in each of the four categories.
IELTS® courses typically take 100 hours to complete and end with a simulation of the actual exam. The timed test takes roughly two hours and 30 minutes to complete. If an individual scores below the margin set for each category, he is advised to withhold taking the test and study for the IELTS® again.
Passing results in the TOEFL™, a similar measure of English proficiency, can be required by some institutions alongside the IELTS®. In these cases, review classes for the TOEFL™ can supplement study for the IELTS®. If the TOEFL™ is not required, individuals can take the test before or after taking courses for the IELTS® to estimate their likely performance and gauge the need for further review.
One good strategy for studying for the IELTS® is language immersion. This method requires the test-taker and his associates to communicate only in English, allowing them to grow accustomed to the language. This encourages a more organic form of learning and mastery. Experts caution, however, that improper use of the language can lead to the formation of bad habits, negatively impacting potential IELTS® scores.