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What Are IELTS and PTE?

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Are you thinking of studying or migrating abroad? Do you know the requirements? Have you done your research? If not, you need to know about the primary requirement to migrate, either for academic or general purposes.

To sustain yourself at a new place, it is crucial for a non-native person to know the native language. To ensure this, many English speaking nations conduct various English language proficiency tests to ensure that the prospective immigrant is well versed in English. IELTS and PTE are two such tests. These check English language proficiency in four areas, viz. listening, reading, writing and speaking. Although, it isn't compulsory to answer such tests to obtain a visa, it definitely increases your chances to get one. Some colleges and universities may even take the admission decision on the basis of scores in these tests. To a novice, these two may seem similar, which makes it necessary to have an understanding of both the tests. Overview of these tests is provided below:

IELTS IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is accepted in around 10,000 organisations, including schools, universities, immigration authorities and professional bodies, across 140 countries. This test is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL, British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. Following are the details to be considered:

Eligibility: The person taking the test should be above 16 years of age.
Purpose: Study, work or migration
Modules: There are two modules of the test, each of which serves a separate purpose. These are:
1. Academic module: This test is for undergraduate/post graduate level or for professional registration. This test is conducted four times a month.
2. General Training module: This test is for those who want to migrate or study at a level below degree. There are 24 fixed days in a year for the conduct of this test.
The test duration: It is a 2 hour and 45 minute test divided into four parts:
1. Academic module: This test is for undergraduate/post graduate level or for professional registration. This test is conducted four times a month.
1. Listening: It is a 30-40 minute section consisting of four sets (ten, one mark questions in each). Audios with varying accents are played, on the basis of which different questions such as multiple choice, matching, sentence completion, are asked.
2. Reading: This part lasts for 60 minutes during which 40 questions, each carrying 1 mark, need to be answered. This part is unique to each module. Academic Reading: Three reading passages checking a number of reading skills such as: reading for gist, detail, attitude or purpose, are given. The topics related to general awareness and academics form the context of these passages.
General Reading: There are 40 questions divided into three sections, explained below:
Section 1 (Social Survival) May contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts.
Section 2 (Workplace Survival) Comprises two texts.
Section 3 (General Reading) Consists of one long text.
3. Writing: Two tasks have to be accomplished within 60 minutes. The first section for the two modules is distinct.
Academic Writing: In task 1, explanation of a visual representation which can be in the form of a graph, chart, or map must be provided in 150 words, in 20 minutes. Next 40 minutes shall be used for task 2, which involves essay writing. In 250 words, the test taker has to present his viewpoint on the given topic.
General Writing: Task 1 involves responding to a situation, i.e. writing a letter in 150 words. Task 2 is the same as in academic writing. The topics are of general interest.
4. Speaking: To assess proficiency in spoken English, a face-to-face interview that lasts for 11-14 minutes is conducted. It includes three parts: Introduction and Interview, Long Turn and Discussion.
Mode of test: IELTS used to be a pen and paper based test only until recently. IDP and BC have now launched computer based IELTS. Now, students have the option to choose one of these modes. However, the speaking module continues to be a face-to-face interview in both the modes.
Score: Ranges between 0 to 9 in 0.5 band increments. Each module is scored separately and a combined result is formed. A score of 9 bands indicates an expert user of the language, whereas score of 1 band indicates a non-user.
Result: In 13 calendar days (can be checked on the IELTS website)

PTE PTE or Pearson Test of English is conducted by Pearson PLC Group. Unlike IELTS, PTE is of recent origin. It is a computer-based test. It is recognised by nearly 6000 organisations across the world. There are 20 types of questions ranging from multiple choice to essay writing and data interpretation. Following are some details:

Purpose: Study, work or migration
Types of Tests:
1. PTE Academic: For people aspiring to study, work or migrate abroad
2. PTE General: For people willing to answer an internationally recognized English test to build a portfolio for travel, further education or to enhance their employment prospects
3. PTE Young Learners: For children to make their first experience of learning English memorable and motivating
The Test: It is divided into three parts:
1. Speaking and Writing (77-93 min): Contains 6 sections
2. Listening (32-41 min): Contains 5 sections
3. Reading (45-57 min): Contains 2 sections
Each task in these sections focuses on testing either a single aspect of English language or a combination of these.
Mode of test: It is a computer-based test. You have to visit the designated test location. Answers to the questions shall be typed using a keyboard. For the speaking section answers shall be recorded using a microphone.
Score: It ranges from 10 to 90. Again, individual score along with the average score is given in the result.
The score is on the basis of two parameters: Communicative Skills and Enabling Skills.
Result: Since it is a computer based assessment, result is available within 5 working days.
It is apparent that both these tests aim to test English proficiency of the non-natives but the choice of test depends on the requirement of the university, professional institute or the government of the country you want to move to. In order to prepare for these tests, you may enrol yourself in an online course and attempt IELTS or PTE mock test online.


Tips to Score High Bands in IELTS Essay

IELTS candidates usually find the writing section of the exam difficult than other parts of the exam. This is primarily because they are unaware of the evaluators’ expectations. By following few simple guidelines, students can improve their score in IELTS Writing module. There are some”Must’s” not to be missed, “Do’s” to be considered and “Don’ts” to be avoided for an increase in the Band score.
Analyse the topic
Divide your ideas into separate paragraphs (4-5 paragraphs: Introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, conclusion)
Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence
Support your argument with reasons and examples
Summarise the essay in the form of a crux in conclusion
Answer all parts of the prompt full
Plan your essay before writing
Give specific and concise answers
Write coherently (appropriately organized and logically sequenced ideas)
Use Cohesion (link ideas, sentences and paragraphs together, usage of connectors)
Use variety of sentence structures
Use Linguistic range
In the introduction, paraphrase the task statement and mention the aim of the essay in a thesis statement
Provide suggestion/ recommendation and wider implication in the conclusion
Use impersonal language (e.g. we must it is essential to)
Use formal vocabulary (e.g. stuff- material, keep – maintain, make sure – ensure)
Use synonyms to avoid repletion (e.g. important : vital/ crucial/significant)
Proofread the written content
Must write at least 250 words
DON’T forget to answer all parts of essay in your answer
DON’T write without a plan
DON’T use contractions such as ‘don’t, can’t, shouldn’t’ etc.
DON’T switch between ideas: Link them!
DON’T combine ‘for’ and ‘against’ ideas.
DON’T write simple sentence structures
DON’T use wrong tone (Keep it formal)
DON’T overuse phraseology
DON’T use colloquial expressions (e.g. I had a gala time )
DON’T repeat words and ideas
DON’T copy the task prompt in you written content
DON’T write body paragraphs either too short or too long (maintain balance)
DON’T write longer conclusion, keep the conclusion shorter than introduction.
DON’T disclose ideas in the introduction.
DON’T write too much (keep it between 250-270)
Above given tips are not exhaustive but can inform about some vital aspects to pass the IELTS exam with a good band score.
Visit TCYonline.com to score high bands in all IELTS modules. Once you get the grip of tips and strategies, next step is to diligently practice as much as possible. You may also visit TCY app for practice.

PTE Vs. IELTS: Why is PTE Academic slowly gaining ascendancy over IELTS?

Nobody seemed to have heard of PTE Academic until a couple of years back. The only language-based qualifying exam that came to one’s mind for all general migration and for Study Abroad purposes in respect of Europe, Asia-Pacific, even Canada, was IELTS. TOEFL iBT was a distant second as it was more aligned to US-oriented qualifying exams like GRE and GMAT.

And now, all of a sudden, PTE Academic is making waves, and every other aspiring migrant to the West is talking of PTE in the same breath as IELTS. The more ‘aware’ an aspirant is, the more s/he is thinking in terms of PTE Academic. The niche that PTE has made for itself is bound to become the mainstream in foreseeable future, and unless IELTS does something substantive to stem the tide, its popularity is bound to be overtaken by PTE Academic.

The question is why PTE Academic has gained so much of popularity (and acceptability across continents) in such a short period. Here are a few reasons:


IELTS test papers, markings same globally

Mr. Kevin McLaven

Practice is the key to good band-scores and Indian students should make frequent use of the English language to improve their communication skills, says British Council’s IELTS head in India, Mr. Kevin McLaven, in an exclusive interview with TCYonline.com, the largest teacher-student platform in the country. Mr. McLaven is the First Secretary (Education Services), British Council Division, British High Commission, New Delhi.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Do you think the present system of testing English language skills is effective enough in view of the changing education scenario, with the coming in of the Internet?

Ans: The standards, marking and monitoring of IELTS have been formalized after extensive worldwide research. Research is continuous and ongoing and the partners invest heavily in ensuring that the test standards are effective in measuring the true-to-life English language proficiency of the candidate and suit the needs of receiving institutions. The face-to-face speaking test, which sets IELTS apart from competitor tests, is widely recognized as the most effective indicator of an individual’s oral communication ability.


Good English important for UK study

Study in the United Kingdom may be expensive but it is the best in the world, says Mr. Dan Chugg, the First Secretary and the official spokesman of the British High Commission in New Delhi, in recent exclusive phone-interview with TCYonline.com.

We also spoke to Ms. Gurpreet Wadhera, Head, English Programs at BetterThink, Ludhiana, the language division of Top Careers & You (TCY), an education company with 34 centres in North India.

These experts throw light on various issues concerning a prospective Indian student desiring to pursue his/her studies in the land of the Cambridge and the Oxford.

Q 1. How much weightage do you give to the Indian education from the   visa point of view?

DAN CHUGG: A degree from an Indian university is as good as one from any other country and we give it the same weightage.  For example, under the points system, students get points for having a (graduation) degree or a post-graduation degree. He gets the same amount of points as he gets from the Indian university or from the British or French university.  Well, our eligibility criteria are very simple. If somebody comes to us with a letter saying he has been accepted by a UK university, got a place to stay and have a proof of enough funds, he is given a student visa.