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False IELTS myths

Have you heard any of the following rumours about IELTS? This blog post is a reminder that you shouldn’t always believe what you hear!

Myth 1: The IDP IELTS is easier than the British Council IELTS.


There is no difference. The tests are written by language assessment experts at the University of Cambridge and sent to test centres to use around the world. The examiners are trained in the same way and the marking schemes are also the same. You can find out more about the high levels of quality control and fairness surrounding IELTS here.

Myth 2: You must use British English in the IELTS speaking test.


IELTS is an International English Language Test which uses a variety of native speaker accents in its recordings and does not favour any particular accent in the speaking test. To get a high score for Pronunciation, however, your speech must be easily understood throughout the test and your native accent should only have a minimal effect on intelligibility.

Myth 3: If I write more in the writing test, I will get a better band score.


You won’t. In fact, by writing too much you are likely to make more mistakes and your main ideas may lose clarity and focus so it’s better to stick to the word limit or just go over by 10-20%. We recommend writing around 180 words for Task 1 and approximately 280 words for Task 2.

Myth 4: Every IELTS speaking test examiner grades differently.


They are all trained and monitored in exactly the same way and use the same scoring criteria. The speaking tests are also recorded and the recordings are regularly used by senior markers to evaluate the performance of all examiners. The recordings can also be used if you are not satisfied with your speaking score and wish to have your test remarked.

Myth 5: I can find my speaking test questions online before I take my test.


Yes, some people upload the questions they were asked after their test, but there are many different sets of questions that an examiner can use so it is extremely unlikely that you will get exactly the same ones. It is a good idea, however, to familiarise yourself with as many different types of questions as possible on a range of different topics so that you are well prepared before your test.

Myth 6: An IELTS test score is valid for life.


Your IELTS score is only valid for a period of 2 years. So, if you took the test in 2013 but now need to show that you have the required band score in 2016, your previous score will not count and unfortunately you will have to retake the test.

Myth 7: IELTS band 9 is only for native speakers.


Even some native speakers do not get band 9. You need to be able to use the language naturally and accurately with a full range of grammatical structures. Band 9 candidates have normally lived in an English speaking country for many years but that’s not to say it’s impossible for those who haven’t.

Myth 8: Anything below band 6 is a fail.

False! There is no pass or fail in the IELTS test. You get the band score that reflects your level.

Myth 9: IELTS papers which are remarked are never upgraded by a full band score.

False! They can be. It is unlikely to get your reading or listening scores upgraded by more than 0.5 since these are assessed objectively and the difference between two markers is only likely to be marginal. However, there is an element of subjectivity in marking writing and speaking tests, despite the rigorous testing that examiners undergo. Therefore, if you strongly believe that your score should have been higher, it could be worth asking for a review, but it is good idea to get advice from an IELTS expert first.

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Ying Quan - Malaysia

Ying Quan - Malaysia

I signed up for the Express course on 13 January. The date of my test was 23 January. I got overall band 8, 8 for listening, 8.5 for reading, 7.5 for writing and 7 for speaking. This result helps me to get an offer from university. Within 10 days, I completed all the practices and three speaking sessions with Jenny.

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