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to think the IELTS is too hard?

13 replies

manicinsomniac · 12/07/2015 19:10

Is anyone familiar with this test?

I'd never heard of it till 15 minutes ago when I rashly told a friend in South America I would help her pass this. Her English isn't far off fluent and I'm a teacher so I, rather arrogantly, assumed it would be a piece of piss for both of us.

Downloaded the practice reading test and ... ouch! I could give this to my year 7 or 8 classes and am fairly sure they wouldn't find it easy going at all. For a non native English speaker it's really hard - the first word is chronobiology!

I don't get it - there are immigrants in this country who speak far less English than this test demands yet my friend can't even apply for a visa till she's passed it. And if she fails she can't try again for 2 years.

Is it a new test? I've been telling her not to worry about it, it will be easy, there are people in this country who hardly speak any English it all etc - and now I feel really stupid! Grin

Do we really need to make it so hard that a good proportion of English people would probably fail it?!

OP posts:

gallicgirl · 12/07/2015 19:14

Ielts has been around for years and is a higher level paper. It's aimed at university applicants so a higher than standard level of English is required.

What's the reason she has to take it? No offence to your abilities but a qualified ELTtutor might be a better idea if a pass is critical.


TattieHowkerz · 12/07/2015 19:15

It isn't a new test.

It isn't a pass of fail, it grades your English to a certain point. So it has to cover high level academic English, and also ability to derive meaning of unfamiliar words from context.

What score does your friend need? 5 or 6 should be straightforward from what you describe. 8 or above is essentially native speaker level.


Allgunsblazing · 12/07/2015 19:16

It is hard. I've passed it a few years ago.
I'm not sure what kind of job your friend is going to do, but IELTS is there to ensure that there won't be any miscommunication, it is usually used for professional validation.


littlebeps · 12/07/2015 19:16

I taught IELTS recently. It's not new but I agree, it is difficult. What level does she need to get? Is it the general or academic? It's the same test for everyone but the marks they get give them a level. It's really not easy and as well as plenty of EFL input she'll really need to practice as well as learn strategies


LemonySmithit · 12/07/2015 19:20

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lweji · 12/07/2015 19:30

I took IELTS about 20 years ago. I'd assume it was pretty much still the same, though.

My English then was good, but not really fluent.
It was to register for a PhD, which required a 7 or so, IIRC. I scored comfortably in the 7-8 interval. I must have taken an academic version.

Oh, chronobiology may not be as difficult for a non-English speaker as you'd think. :) It should be recognisable by speakers of latin base languages that have completed secondary school education.


manicinsomniac · 12/07/2015 19:36

I don't know how many points but she's an architect.

I'll tell her she needs better help than me! Thanks, all!

OP posts:

HeadDreamer · 12/07/2015 19:39

I have never taken it but I assume it can't be too hard. I thought all the uni students from overseas have passed it.


steppemum · 12/07/2015 19:39

When you take it you get a level (4, 5, 6, 7, etc). Level 9 is near to native speaker.

As I understand it the online test self adusts making the words harder or easier as you go according to your answers, then it gives you a level.

I help Ukrainian friend with this, they also have to pass it for their visas. It is quite hard


LemonySmithit · 12/07/2015 19:40

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sanfairyanne · 12/07/2015 19:49

it depends what score you need really. half marks gets you about an ielts 5 on the reading paper, so its not like you need 100%


FishWithABicycle · 12/07/2015 19:51

IELTS has been around for years and the great thing about it is that there is no pass mark - different opportunities need different standards of English obviously. People often have a much higher standard of foreign language mastery in text than in voice so I am not at all surprised that the written test is hard. I have worked a lot with students who think they have excellent English because their IELTS score of 6.5 was sufficient to get them a place at an English university - and indeed this level is sufficient to be able to comprehend a lecture and answer questions on its topic. However at that level they still have plenty of mistakes in their English. We set a required score of 8 or 8.5 when what we needed was true fluency but that's not a blanket "pass mark" - there are just different opportunities open to people with a score less than that.


gallicgirl · 12/07/2015 20:00

They average out the scores from the different areas so a strong performance in one area can raise a mediocre score.
I knew a student whose written English was quite poor but his spoken fluency pulled him a sufficiently high score to commence his undergraduate degree.

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