All About the IELTS General Training Test

The IELTS general training test is used for non-academic purposes, such as immigration visas or professional licenses. The exam includes four sections, or "papers," on reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The speaking and listening sections on the general training test are the same as the analogous sections of the IELTS academic test, but the general training test does include unique reading and writing sections.

Scoring for the IELTS General Training Test

IELTS scoring for the general training test is based on the "band" system, which awards a score of 0 to 9 in half-point increments for each paper. The total band score is the average of all four paper scores, rounded up or down to the nearest half-point. Listening and reading band scores are derived from the number of correct answers, which IELTS refers to as "raw scores." Band scores for the speaking and writing papers are calculated according to the assessments of human graders. The scoring procedure for the general training test is largely the same as the academic test, except for the reading paper. According to IELTS, the reading exercises on the academic test are more complex than those that appear on the same section of the general training test, and this is reflected in the sectional score conversions: "It is usual that a greater number of questions must be answered correctly on a General Training Reading test to secure a given band score." For example, 30 correct answers (out of 40) is correlated to a band score of 7 on the academic test's reading section, but 34 questions must be answered correctly on the reading paper of the general training test to receive the same band score of 7.

IELTS General Training Reading and Writing

The general training reading assessment includes three sections and a total of 40 questions in one hour. The first section (14 questions) presents 2-5 short texts, such as advertisements or job descriptions. Section 2 (13 questions) is based on two texts related to the workplace, such as safety regulations or employer policies. The final section (13 questions) features a longer instructional text of a higher level of difficulty than the previous two sections. Among the question types on the IELTS general training reading paper are multiple choice, matching statements to the appropriate text section, true or false, and choosing words or phrases from the given texts. The IELTS general training writing assessment includes two essays. The first essay, 150 words in 20 minutes, is devoted to a narrow purpose such as writing a letter to a potential employer. On the second essay, 250 words in 40 minutes, the test-taker is expected to express his or her opinion on some issue of general importance.

IELTS General Training Speaking and Listening

These sections of the general training test are the same as those that appear on the academic test. The listening paper includes 40 questions in 30 minutes, divided into four sections (students are allowed an additional 10 minutes to fill out their answer sheets). Listening paper exercises are based on audio recordings of conversations and monologues, and question types include chart completion, multiple choice, short answer, sentence completion, matching, classification, and labeling a chart, map, or diagram. The speaking paper is a three-section interview with an IELTS examiner. Each exercise is timed separately and recorded for later evaluation. Total section timing is 11-14 minutes.

IELTS General Training Test Score Requirements for Immigration Visas

The IELTS general training test is used to qualify for immigration visas in several countries. In the United Kingdom, the scores required depend on the type of visa sought. For a Tier I general visa, applicants must receive a total band score of 7.0 or higher, and at least 7.0 on each paper. For many other types of Tier I visas, such as "exceptional talent" and "entrepreneur" visas, applicants must only score a 4.0 on each section. In Canada, applicants for the Federal Skilled Worker Program are required to meet the Canadian Language Benchmark of 7 in either English or French. For visa applicants choosing the former language, this benchmark is met with a score of 6.0 or higher on each IELTS paper. The English benchmark for Canada's Federal Skilled Trades Program is 5, which equals IELTS scores of 5.0 each on listening, writing, and speaking, and 4.0 reading. Australia General Skilled Migration Visas require the IELTS, with the minimum score dependent on the applicant's profession. In order to qualify for these visas, the applicant must have either "competent" or "vocational" English skills, with the latter reserved for tradesmen. "Competent" English is defined as IELTS scores of 6.0 or better on each paper, while "vocational" English is characterized by scores of 5.0 or higher on each IELTS section. Applicants for Skilled Migrant visas in New Zealand can satisfy the English language requirement with a total IELTS band score of 6.5.

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