What is IELTS?

IELTS (which stands for International English Language Testing System) is an English exam which tests non-native speakers on their level of reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension. IELTS is officially valid for only two years. It is intended to be a snapshot of your current English level. This is done by giving you a score (IELTS 0 – 9). There is no pass or fail. By doing these exams you will always come away with a diploma, no matter how high or low your score is. University admissions departments, employers and immigration services can vary the score they require according to their needs. That is why they prefer these exams. This year, we have noticed an increase in the demand for IELTS courses at our school. We currently offer intensive and semi-intensive courses that run for one, two or four months. There are frequent sittings of the exam in Madrid, at least once a month. For exam dates see here….

What does the exam consist of?

The exam focuses on the four modules of speaking, listening, reading and writing.

There are two versions of the IELTS exam, an Academic and a General version. The Academic version is required for university entrance and some professions, such as medicine. The General is normally required for immigration purposes.

The four parts to an IELTS exam are as follows:

  1. Writing (task 1 & 2)

  2. Reading

  3. Listening

  4. Speaking

The two versions of the exam are the same except for Writing task 1 and the Reading. For a more detailed explanation of the differences see

The first three modules are tested with a written exam that takes 160 minutes and is done without a break. The oral part of the exam takes 15 minutes and is either on the same day (after a 10 minute break) or on another day. This depends on the exam centre.

Why is IELTS so popular?

IELTS is currently the number one choice for people wishing to study or work abroad. Over 3 million candidates took the exam last year and that figure is expected to increase as the number of people looking for jobs and studying for degrees in different countries is also on the rise. In 2016 over 10,000 higher educational institutions accepted IELTS for entry. In certain professional areas it is the only exam which is accepted as proof of English language proficiency. For example, the British Medical Council require a minimum of 7.5 overall score in IELTS in order to work as a in the UK.  It is accepted in many countries, especially in UK and Australian universities….

What level do I need to take the exam?

IELTS is not like the First and Advanced Certificate in that it does not correspond to one level alone. The maximum mark that can be scored in an IELTS exam is 9 but each grade corresponds more or less to a level of English. For example, a 7 would be the equivalent of an advanced level whereas a 6 would be an upper intermediate. In general, you should have at least an upper intermediate level if you want to follow an intensive course and do well in the exam. If you are planning to study at a foreign university or school, candidates should contact the institution in order to find out the mark required of them.

Do I choose the General or Academic version?

The exam has two versions, the general and the academic. Broadly speaking, the general version is for students wishing to study at secondary school level or for work experience abroad. It teaches general skills in social or work contexts. The academic version is for people who wish to study at higher education level (i.e University) in an English speaking country. It is also the version required in certyain professions such as medicine. At Speak To Me, we have chosen to teach the Academic version for two reasons. The first being that most of our students require this course, and secondly because students who wish to sit the General version actually tend to be over-prepared if the have attended the more challenging course.

What is Speak To Me’s teaching method?

At the academy, we believe that practice makes perfect. Therefore you can expect to be looking at plenty of past papers with a teacher who will correct your work on a weekly basis both in and out of the classroom. This is especially important for the writing and speaking parts where having a native teacher to listen to you or read your work is essential for improving your level and confidence for the exam. The classes are small, up to eight students, which means that you can expect to receive plenty of attention and feedback with a teacher who understands your individual needs.

To see IELTS preparation courses offered by Speak To Me please see here


Resources for students:


Libros recomendados para estudiantes de IELTS:

What is IELTS?
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