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IELTS FAQ | All about IELTS exam (2023)

IELTS FAQ | All bout IELTS exam | Fees, scores, registration and preparation, syllabus, registration and pattern
Frequently Asked Questions!

IELTS FAQ | All about IELTS exam

Table of Contents

Question 1

What does the IELTS Test consist of?

The International English Language Testing System or IELTS, is primarily taken by anybody aiming to study, immigrate or work abroad in a primarily English-speaking country. It is accepted by over 10,000 organizations in 100+ countries and the scores are valid for 2 years. 

The IELTS Academic test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes. This time is distributed amongst 4 sections of the exam – 

  1. Reading – This is what we are here for. We will discuss the overview of this section in detail as we proceed.
  2. Writing – The written word has been one of mankind’s significant achievements. Mastery of a language is incomplete without mastery over its script (if there is a script!).
  3. Listening – Listening is one of the most crucial parts of interpersonal communication. If you are to work or study abroad, where the medium of instruction is English, then you must learn to listen, analyze and understand the language. You should aim to do it in a way that you are able to think in the English Language, the way you think in your mother tongue. Visual thinkers – read ‘able to think’ as ‘able to see’.
  4. Speaking – Finally, we have the Speaking section. Speaking the language properly allows free-flowing conversation and communication. It is the last of the 4 fundamental skills that the IELTS tests. 

For a detailed guide on the IELTS exam pattern, registration, fees, and exam dates, visit this excellent link. 

We at Galvanise have gamified the idea of learning vocabulary so you can learn AND have fun! This system has helped 265,000 students across 195+ countries fall in love with our Vocab Builder App, rated 5 stars more than 4,600 times. Check it out now! 

We hope this helps you build your vocabulary for the IELTS. Happy learning! 

Question 2

What are the fees for applying for the IELTS for an Indian?

The IELTS Test Fees for Indians were revised to INR 16,250 as of the 1st of April, 2023. The scores will be valid for a period of 2 years. Since the exam fee is quite expensive, it is best if you plan and prepare well in advance before you attempt the test.

Given the pandemic, unforeseen circumstances can lead to cancellations and complications. What are the cancellation fees for the IELTS exam? 

  • If you cancel the IELTS more than 5 weeks before the date of the exam, you will receive a 75% refund. The 25% deduction has been justified as an administrative cost for the exam. 
  • If you cancel the IELTS less than 5 weeks before the date of the exam, you will receive no refund at all. If you fail to appear for the rest, it is considered as a cancellation and you will receive no refund. 
  • In case of medical emergencies, you will be required to present a valid medical certificate within 5 days before the date of the exam. You will receive the refund after a particular deduction for administrative cost of conducting the exam.

The IELTS computer test is conducted thrice a day, for 7 days a week, so you have the luxury of choosing when you would like to take the test. The paper-based test is conducted around once a week, in a few centres. Post the pandemic, the latter isn’t the most viable option.  

The IELTS Indicator is being conducted in the COVID era, so that students may take the exam from the comfort of their homes. For a detailed guide on IELTS exam patterns, registration, fees, and exam dates, visit this excellent link.

Question 3

What is the validity period of the IELTS Certificate – Does it expire?

The International English Language Testing System or IELTS, is primarily taken by anybody aiming to study, immigrate or work abroad in a primarily English-speaking country. 

It is accepted by over 10,000 organizations in 100+ countries and the scores are valid for 2 years. This is the same for both the Academic Test and the General Test. The IELTS Certificate is otherwise known as the Test Report Form (TRF). It is provided to the candidate 13 days after the test. The TRF is a detailed report of your scores in the various sections of the IELTS, namely – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. 

Before applying to any university in a particular English-speaking country, make sure you check their IELTS requirements. You will be required to take the IELTS once again if your TRF or IELTS Certificate has exceeded the 2-year limit.  

For a detailed guide on IELTS exam patterns, registration, fees, and exam dates, visit this excellent link.

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Question 4

Which exam should you take? IELTS or TOEFL?

Firstly, let us get one thing out of the way. You have decided to write either of these exams as a requirement for getting into a school or university abroad or to immigrate and work in an English Speaking country abroad. Having established this, we suggest you narrow down a few probable options in terms of universities. Which is your dream university or country? What do they prefer – IELTS or TOEFL? Identify this first and look into their requirements. In the end, that is what will matter after all. In the case of work, it is better to check with the company you consider working with for their required choice of test.

On the other hand, if you haven’t narrowed down any possible university options, and are looking to hit them with your best shot in order to try your hand at all possible universities, then the following will be applicable to you! 

Who accepts TOEFL scores? 

Universities in the USA have preferred the TOEFL over IELTS for a long time, and if you are looking to study or immigrate to the USA, TOEFL is a better option. There are some universities that accept IELTS scores as well, so definitely do your research beforehand. Around 9000 institutions in the world accept TOEFL scores, so keep that in mind. 

What about IELTS? 

Similar to the TOEFL, even IELTS scores are accepted at around 9000 institutions in the world. The difference is that IELTS is preferred for programs in the UK and Commonwealth Nations such as Australia. European Universities also prefer IELTS scores. 

So, there we have it. Your choice purely depends on where you wish to study or immigrate. Let us briefly look at the differences between these two counterparts. 

Key Differences:

  1. Internet vs Paper Version: The TOEFL is primarily taken via the Internet whereas the IELTS offers both the Paper and Internet Version. If you’re someone who prefers writing physically in comparison to typing, then choose the appropriate version for you. 
  2. Multiple choice vs Type in the Answer Questions: The TOEFL is heavily MCQ-oriented, whereas the IELTS prefers the candidate to write short answers to the questions provided to them. The IELTS  has more to do with your thinking abilities.
  3. The Speaking Section: The TOEFL requires you to answer the provided questions or prompts in a recorded format, where there is no human presence apart from you. The IELTS on the other hand, has an actual human on the other side, listening to your conversation. Now, if you’re someone who prefers interacting with another person and find the conversation more stimulating this way, then the IELTS may just take the cake for you but if you find this intimidating, the TOEFL may resonate with you better. It depends on how you communicate and think. 
  4. Reading Section: It is said that the IELTS uses myriad texts from sources such as academic readings, magazines, and online publications whereas the TOEFL makes use of academic texts only. The TOEFL may prove to be more challenging in this regard. 

TLDR: To sum it up, choose the exam that best suits your goals and needs, and that of the country or university you want to study or work in.  

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Question 5

Reading Strategy for IELTS

IELTS Reading Section – Question Types

  1. Multiple Choice Questions – Obviously, this is a broader question type, where 1 MCQ may involve Sentence Completion and the best option to choose, while another involves Reading Comprehension and an answer to choose based on a given question. You will have to choose between multiple alternatives or options.
  2. Identification of the author’s views/identification of the information within the passage – You will be asked whether a set of statements agree with the information within the passage or the views of the author. You will have to choose between true/false / not given or yes/no / not given. A key point to note is that whatever is given within the passage or by the author is what matters for the answers. Your own knowledge, interpretations, deductions, or opinions should not influence your answer.
  3. Matching Information – You will be required to locate specific details or information within the sections of the text. It may be an example that you have to locate, a summary, or even a definition.
  4. Matching Headings – Here, you will be required to recognize the main ideas or themes of the text.
  5. Matching features – This type of question tests your ability to recognize opinions, theories, and the connections between the facts within the text.
  6. Matching Sentences – You will need to complete a sentence within a stipulated number of words. The words must come from the text. These are obviously not MCQs.
  7. Flow-chart Completion, Summaries, and Tables – Once again, you are tested on your ability to pay attention to the details provided and your ability to recognize the main ideas of the text.
  8. Diagram-Label Completion – There will be a description in the text. You will need to label the diagram given based on the description provided.
  9. Short Answer Questions – There will be a given limit on the number of words that your answer may contain. The questions are related to the text given, and you will be required to answer them.

Now that we have an overview of the Reading Section, let us move on to the tips and tricks! 

IELTS Reading Tips and Tricks 

Onto the core of our article – the IELTS tips and tricks that can make the difference between a band 6 and a band 8/9! Many of these have stood the test of time, and are imbibed with one common theme – logic. Some of these tips may seem obvious to you, while the rest can change the IELTS game for you. Having said that, go with what makes you comfortable. Even a non-native English Speaker can aim high and score well if they keep their wits about them.  

IELTS Reading Tips and Tricks for Band 9

  1. Read every day – Firstly, you need to read. You need to read from myriad sources. Articles online, newspapers, novels, and journals are wonderful places to start. Try not to read consciously and just go with the flow of the text. Read curiously and read for fun. I cannot stress this enough. This will build your reading stamina, your vocabulary, and your pace. If there ever was a panacea to cracking the IELTS, it is this tip. READ. EVERY. DAY. It could just be for  30-45 minutes, but make sure you read.
  2. Read the questions first – This tip is a game-changer when it comes to the IELTS. You have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions linked to 3 texts. Time is of the essence, so you cannot read the text fully and take your own sweet time. Read the questions first. This will tell you what to look for when you get to the passage and save precious time. 
  3. Re-read the questions and understand them – Seriously, a small error in understanding what the question exactly wants can pull you back a long way. Read the questions thoroughly.
  4. Scan, skim, and summarize – What?!? So much to do? Hold your horses there! This is a tip that will work wonders if you follow it up with Tip 1 (seriously, start reading today!). Skim through the passage given to you and look for the main ideas, understand the layout of the text, highlight keywords and salient points, and try to make sense of what the passage is about. This is key when it comes to the Reading Section.
  5.  Make a note of the keywords in your head – The IELTS involves a lot of information-hunting. Questions will ask you to look for specific information to fill in/choose the right answers. While skimming, make sure you highlight key points like dates, places, topics, numbers, etc. You will learn to recognize them with practice. 
  6. Familiarize yourself with various Question Types and practice – The consensus among every dynamic IELTS community is that the True/False/Not Given Question Types are the worst out there. While that may be true for them, what will prove to be your bane? Conversely, what type of questions will you excel at? You can only do so with practice tests. These will help you familiarize yourself with the IELTS Question Types (the list can be found above) and ensure that you have sufficient practice. 
  7. Vocabulary? – While using flashcards and memorizing a whole bunch of words may seem like the ideal way to build your vocabulary, reading from a variety of sources about various topics will prove to be the better technique out of the two. When you read articles and content from different genres, you are not only building your knowledge but also encountering new words as you progress. A sense of grammatical intuition will also develop. Read, learn the words you do not know, and keep reading. This will work far better than memorizing 7000 new words for the IELTS. Make sure you go back and learn the words you did not know in your practice tests as well. You can use this as a reference for learning any words you come across.
  8. Distinguish the IELTS texts – You will come across texts that can be divided into 2 broad categories – 
  • Descriptive – These texts are chronological in order and are usually full of facts and information about a particular topic. Example: History of the Silk Road. 
  • Discursive – These texts are centered around a theory or hypothesis based on the author’s research and evidence. It may also express certain opinions and put forth some arguments. Example: Does Meritocracy aid economic growth?
  • Answer all the questions even if you’re unsure of the answer – The IELTS does not have any negative marking, so answer as many questions with as much accuracy as you can!
  • The Passage is sacrosanct – Your own base of knowledge should not influence your answer choices. Read the question and try to understand what it exactly wants. It is fixed on the author’s point of view or the contents of the passage. This will help enormously with question types such as True/False/Not Given.
  • Paraphrase – The language in the question may not reflect the language in the text, so you must build your reading capabilities (you can only do this by reading every day) in such a way that you are able to paraphrase using synonyms and glean the meaning of the question.
  1. Grammar is key – Make sure that there aren’t any grammatical mistakes when you have to answer Short Answer Questions or any other Question Type that involves you writing the answer. Grammatical intuition, Spelling, and Sentence Structure are all very important.

The above IELTS Reading Tips and IELTS Reading Strategies will definitely prove to be invaluable during the day of your exam. The techniques above will certainly be useful. Having said that, work with what you are comfortable with. Make sure that you follow these basic IELTS Tips.  

IELTS Reading Time Management:

 Initially while practicing, you should take as much time required to understand the themes, hunt for information and learn the meanings, context, and usage of all the words you come across. As you progress, you will need to focus on managing your time.

  • Keep the above 8 tips in mind while managing time. Practice different question types, and learn to skim, scan and pick information. Read the questions properly.
  • You have 40 questions to answer in 60 minutes, so obviously you cannot spend more than 1 minute on each question.
  • The rest (around 15 minutes) will be utilized in reading the texts. 
  • The last 5 minutes will be used for reviewing your answers. 
  • Do not waste time on a tough question. Get the easy ones out of the way by finishing them quickly and coming back to the tough ones later. Remember, it is not you against that 1 question alone. There are 39 more waiting to be solved. Prioritise!
  • Practice 20-minute, difficult texts. This will help train you beyond the IELTS level of difficulty, which will ensure that you ace the actual exam.

For an ultimate guide to the IELTS, head over here. Read every day, take IELTS practice tests, and stay calm. You got this!

Question 6

What are some interesting and efficient ways to build your vocabulary for the IELTS.

Apart from the usual ways, what other ways exist that can help you broaden your vocabulary? Let us look at them now!

  • Read from a wide range of sources – As an IELTS Aspirant, you should be looking to read from a wide range of sources – be it books, articles, publications, and magazines. Why do we recommend this? Look below. 
  • Read articles of different genres and topics – This is the best thing you can do while reading for the purpose of building your vocabulary. Reading from a wide range of sources exposes you to different styles of writing, various patterns of thought, and most importantly, various topics under the sun. You will accumulate a lot of knowledge by reading articles from different genres and will also become familiar with the jargon used within that particular genre. 

For example – if you are reading articles from Psychology, then you will start to recognize concepts such as catatonic states, schizophrenia, neuroplasticity, and psychosis. There are a few new words for you huh? : P 

Articles from sources such as the Guardian, Aeon,, etc. are of excellent quality from a reading and learning standpoint. This will also broaden your vocabulary because you are learning new things that you may not be familiar with.  

  • Word curiosity and contexts – Whenever you read anything, and you come across a particular word that you may not be familiar with, we recommend you search for the meaning of this word and re-read the sentence within which you came across the word. This will help solidify the idea of this word w.r.t to the context of the sentence you just read and will go on a long way in vocabulary retention. 

Be curious about the meaning of this word and do not get intimidated by it. After all, words are abstract concepts used to help us communicate. Not frighten us.  

  • Don’t make the mistake of trying to use words to sound ‘fancy’ – too often we try to incorporate the words that we learn into everyday use with the purpose of sounding grandiose even if it does not go too well with the context. Refrain from doing so. While I agree that some words are littered across the content that we consume, others exist to aid in communication. They help name things and ideas effectively. 
  • Watch a few TV Series – honestly, well-written TV Series such as House M.D., Breaking Bad and Sherlock will help you build your arsenal of words in an exciting and engaging way. 
  • The last one – don’t think of building your vocabulary as a task – this one will be a little vague and hard to wrap around your head but hear me out. When we attach the word ‘task’ to building vocabulary, things can start to go downhill due to a lack of motivation. You will start to resent the vast number of words that the English language contains. Instead, what you can do is be curious about reading and learning the words you come across in context. Learn in such a way that entertains and educates you. Think of words as little decoders, helping you unravel those complicated English Paragraphs! 

We at Galvanise have gamified the idea of learning vocabulary so that you learn AND have fun! This system has helped 265,000 students across 195+ countries fall in love with our Vocab builder, rated 5 stars more than 4,600 times. Check it out now!

We hope this helps you build your vocabulary for the IELTS. Happy learning! 

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