IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

This is the preferred English language qualification of most UK universities. This course focuses on academic language skills useful for A Level course in addition to the IELTS qualification. Year 12 students have two group lessons and one individual lesson per week, working towards the exam in June. Students who need to, are supported into Year 13.

There are four parts to the exam, each testing a particular skill area:

1. Listening – 30 minutes

Candidates listen to a number of recorded tests. These include a mixture of monologues and conversations and feature a variety of English accents. The recording is heard only once, and candidates are given time to read the questions and write down their answers.

2. Academic Reading – 60 minutes

There are three reading passages with tasks. Texts are taken from books, magazines, journals and newspapers, all written for a non-specialist audience. At least one of the texts contains a detailed argument. Candidates answer a variety of questions.

3. Academic Writing – 60 minutes

The first task requires candidates to write a description of at least 150 words.

This is based on material found in a chart, table, graph or diagram and demonstrates their ability to present information and to summarise the main features of the input. For the second task, candidates write a short essay of at least 250 words in response to a statement or question. They are expected to demonstrate an ability to present a position, construct an argument and discuss abstract issues.

4. Speaking – 11–14 minutes

The test is a face-to-face interview. Candidates are assessed on their use of spoken English to answer short questions, to speak at length on a familiar topic, and also to interact with the examiner.

IELTS results are reported on a scale of 1

(non-user) to 9 (expert user) in each module, together with an average score. Universities require a score of 6, 6.5 or 7 depending on the university and course.

All four parts of the exam are equally weighted. This is reflected in the IELTS course at Sidcot and students are particularly encouraged to take a full and active part in the development of speaking skills through class discussions and role plays.