IELTS: Facts Not Many People Know
There are many aspects in IELTS that people find surprising,
usually when it hits them hard. It is quite a paradox - the
information is right there, available to everyone, yet people
are still in the dark. Allow me to draw your attention to
several facts you don't want to be surprised about.
Usually extensive answer is considered a very good one, but not
in IELTS. When instructions say "give one answer" or "answer in
3 words", it means "give us two answers or 4 words and we'll
fail you". The reason for this limit is quite simple and obvious
- there is not enough room for more than 3 words on Answer
Sheet. By the way, articles "a" and "the" count as one word,
while common assumption is that they don't.
People tend to forget that they are graded by Answer Sheet and
not by what they wrote in IELTS booklet. Any correct answer not
copied to Answer Sheet will result in exactly 0 points. There is
an option of submitting appeal and requesting to read your
answers from the booklet, but it takes time and costs money.
Not many people think about what they are going to write with,
pen or pencil. Yet there are rules: the Listening and Reading
answers are to be written in pencil and Writing - in pen. This
is another example of how small details can be very significant
Writing and Speaking are graded differently from Listening and
Reading. There is no half band grade, which means it is
impossible to get 6.5 in either Writing or Speaking. The reason
is the way examiners are currently trained, but hopefully it
will change in the future (according to official IELTS site
maybe even in 2007).
In Reading and Listening tests the spelling is important,
meaning one can loose points for misspelled words. The best way
to overcome the spelling problem is to copy words. In case of
Reading, copying words from text is a very easy and natural
thing to do. In Listening test, as simple as it may sound, it is
best to write what you hear and not to rephrase. It is
acceptable to skip words - after all there is 3 words limit, as
long as the important words are not substituted by their
And at last some good news: starting from May 2006 candidates
don't need to wait 90 days to retake the test. The 90-day
waiting period has been canceled to the joy of those who have no
time to waste.