The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) English language test is a crucial part of many immigration applications to Canada. If you have considered immigrating to or studying in Canada, you may have heard about the IELTS. The IRCC accepts two tests to prove English language proficiency: the IELTS and the CELPIP. The IELTS is much more widely available and is the most popular choice for most candidates.
The IRCC only accepts the IELTS "General Training" test, and not the "Academic" option. Please refer to the relevant IRCC website pages to learn the details of the language testing requirements. This is not the purpose of this article, but rather, our goal here is to give some pointers and direct you to some resources to help with scoring well on the IELTS.
One of the key resources to learn about the IELTS is the British Council IELTS page, where they provide information on test, how to register for it, the test procedures, how you will receive your results, and so on. There is also a special page dedicated to preparing for the IELTS exam, which provides free courses and practice tests to help you get ready and improve your score.
The IELTS is a difficult test for non-native English speakers. It is not easy to get a higher score. No one can achieve a perfect score on the IELTS. Even native English speakers would find it hard to achieve that. However, this does not mean that you cannot take some actions to help maximize your score.
If your English language communication skills, including speaking, listening, reading, and writing are not strong, then your strategy should be to first take English language courses to improve your skills. No amount of test preparation will help you if your underlying English language skills are weak. But just remember, no one is born speaking English! Whether we learn it from our parents as young kids, or we learn it in school, or maybe even we start learning it as adults, we all start with no knowledge of English and build on it with practice. Therefore, your goal in this situation should be to improve your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
If your English language skills are already strong enough that you can study or work in and English speaking environment, you may feel that you are ready to take the test. However, even if you are very fluent in English, it is a good idea to take an IELTS preparation course, or at least read a book on preparing for the IELTS exam. Your goal in this scenario is to be familiar with the test style, and what to expect during the test. You want to minimize any surprises during the test so that you can focus on putting forward your best performance.
It is important to know which of these two camps you are in. If you need to strengthen your core skills, no amount of test prep courses or re-takes will help you achieve a high score. Your best course of action is to improve your underlying skill by practicing speaking, listening, reading, writing. If you are in the second category where you have solid English skills, you may still benefit from extra courses to practice before you take the test. But you will definitely want to do some prep courses and take a number of practice tests until you are comfortable with the test format and style.
With some research, you will find many resources online, many of them free. Here are some samples for you to consider:
If you have tried the IELTS once, twice, or more and still haven't got the score you need, don't despair. Just remember, even if you feel that your language skills are already strong but you repeatedly get a low score, this is a signal that you need more practice. Don't under estimate the impact a few weeks of focused study can make. For best results, you can even hire a 1-on-1 language teacher specializing in IELTS. Remember, the cost and effort might seem too much right now, but when you achieve your dream of immigrating to Canada, it will be well worth it.