Download IELTS Guide for Teachers (pdf, 1MB) - British Council PDF

TitleIELTS Guide for Teachers (pdf, 1MB) - British Council
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Document Text Contents
Page 1

IELTS is the world's most popular
English language test

for education, employment and migration

Delivered locally, recognised globally

Page 2


Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Appendix i

Appendix ii


IELTS overview

IELTS test format

IELTS scores and interpretation

What makes IELTS an international test?

Tips from teachers

Becoming an IELTS examiner

Continual research-based development

IELTS assessment criteria (band descriptors)

How IELTS maps to the Common European
Framework of Reference (CEFR)

“ IELTS makes for a
confident student.”

Senior Teacher, Turning Point, India

Page 14



The criteria for the different IELTS band scores make it clear
which areas of language need to be developed, thereby
setting clear goals and objectives. Teaching techniques
for IELTS include presenting language elements such as
grammar and vocabulary in a wider context.

The topics in IELTS are both interesting and contemporary,
and are based in the real world. This means teachers
can bring the outside world into their IELTS classes by
using a range of authentic source materials adapted
to test preparation.

Tips from

Page 15


IELTS Guide for Teachers

Tips from Teachers

Make sure that your students:
• are familiar with the format and types of tasks

in the different sections of the IELTS test
• know what is expected of them and how

best to approach each section
• are aware of the time allowed for each section

and include timed practice in class
• read the instructions carefully and follow them.

Make sure that your students:
• think about the context before they listen

and identify the type of information they
will need to listen for

• read the questions before they hear the text
and use the time between each section to
prepare for the following section.



Make sure that your students:
• use reading skills such as skimming and

scanning – they will need to use these skills
to answer all the questions in 1 hour

• know how best to approach each type
of reading task

• answer the questions and transfer their answers
to the answer sheet within the time allowed.

Make sure that your students:
• analyse the question carefully and plan

their answer before starting to write
• keep in mind the reader and the purpose

when writing
• structure their writing logically and clearly
• decide on a position and use examples

and evidence to support points they make
in task 2

• are familiar with the assessment criteria.

Make sure that your students:
• feel confident and remind them to relax and

enjoy the conversation with the examiner
• listen carefully to the questions
• use fillers and hesitation devices if they

need ‘thinking time’ before answering
• realise it is their language level not their

opinions which are being evaluated
• are familiar with the assessment criteria.




“ Test takers receive an
objective assessment of
their English proficiency
and have a clearer idea of
where they need to make
most improvements.”

Lyndell King, teacher

Page 27


The current alignment is based upon a growing body of
internal and external research, some of which has also
appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals, attesting to
their quality (e.g. Hawkey & Barker, 2004). This research has
been further combined with long established experience of
test use within education and society, as well as feedback
from a range of stakeholders regarding the uses of test
results for particular purposes.

As further work, such as that being undertaken in the English
Profile project, enriches our understanding of the CEFR
levels, further refinements may be possible.

Further information

Q1. Some IELTS band scores are shown as borderline
(e.g. it is not clear whether band 5 is B1 or B2). How
should institutions and organisations interpret this?
As IELTS preceded the CEFR, IELTS band score thresholds
have never aligned exactly with the CEFR transition points.
Previously (Taylor 2004a), we provided advice as to the
score on IELTS that a candidate who was at a given CEFR
level might achieve. However, our research shows that a
C1 minimum threshold would fall between the 6.5 and 7
thresholds on the IELTS scale. Therefore, whilst many 6.5
candidates would be at C1, a number will be marginally
below. The present table makes this clearer. So if an
institution requires a high degree of confidence that an
applicant is at C1, they may wish to set a requirement of 7,
rather than 6.5.

Q2. Does IELTS differentiate at C2 level?
Band scores of 8.5 and higher constitute C2 level
performance. Band 8 is borderline.

Q3. If a student has an IELTS score of 6.5 should
this be treated as a B2 equivalent score?
6.5 is borderline B2/C1. It is for institutions to decide
alignment to a particular level of the CEFR is critical.
Otherwise, our general advice remains that an overall
IELTS band 7.0 will probably meet the language
requirements of most university courses, though 6.5
may be adequate for courses which are less linguistically
demanding. Institutions need to consider a range of factors
in setting their requirements, including, for example the
amount of pre-sessional or in-sessional language-learning
support which will be available to prospective students,
and whether a minimum standard should also be specified
in a particular individual skill.

Q4. How does this compare to the mappings that
other language testers have published?
We do not comment on the benchmarking exercises
that other language testers have provided.


• Council of Europe (2001) The Common European
framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching,
assessment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

• Davidson, F & Fulcher, G (2007) The Common European
Framework of Reference and the design of language tests:
A matter of effect. Language Teaching 40, 231-241.

• Hawkey, R & Barker, F (2004). Developing a common scale
for the assessment of writing.

• Assessing Writing, 9(3), p. 122-159.
• Milanovic, M (2009) Cambridge ESOL and the CEFR.
Research Notes 37, 2-5.

• Saville, N (2005) An interview with John Trim at 80,
Language Assessment Quarterly 2 (4), 263-288.

• Taylor, L (2004a) Issues of test comparability. Research
Notes 15, 2-5.

• Taylor, L (2004b) IELTS, Cambridge ESOL examinations
and the Common European Framework Research Notes
18, 2-3.

• Weir, C J (2005) Limitations of the Common European
Framework for developing comparable examinations
and tests. Language Testing 22, 281-300.

Page 28

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February 2012

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP:
IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge
ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL).

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