Am I Ready for the IELTS Test in 2020?

Am I Ready for the IELTS Test in 2020?


8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking your IELTS Test

When the time comes to take the IELTS test, you will probably ask yourself a very important question: “Am I ready to take the IELTS test?”

Am I ready for IELTS is a crucial question, because if you are not ready, you will pay hundreds of dollars or pounds for the official IELTS test that does not provide you with any feedback on your English language mistakes. Sure, taking the IELTS test will give you an idea of how the IELTS test works. But most importantly, if you’re going to invest money, time and effort in taking the test, you must be prepared with your best English and an understanding of the test strategies, in order to avoid disappointment.

If you think you are ready, think again because you need to answer some more questions. Here are the 8  Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking your IELTS in 2020.

1. What is my English level?

If you speak English in your daily life, or if you’ve studied a formal English course before, you may feel that you have good English. In fact, you might feel quite proud of all the expressions you know and the enjoyment you gain from speaking effective English. However, IELTS requires much more than daily chatting with friends and colleagues. In addition, it is common that people tend to overestimate their ability in another language (mainly because they don’t recognise their own mistakes). Therefore, to be successful at IELTS, you need to be accurate with your English grammar and have a strong vocabulary base. One way to see your English level is to take a quick English level test.


2. What does the English level test mean?

The free online English level test takes about 10 minutes and shows the level of your understanding when it comes to grammar, vocabulary and language structures. Students who score above 38/40 on the test have an advanced level of English and can expect to score approximately 8 – 9 on IELTS. On the other hand, students who score around 17 – 22 on the level test can be classified as Pre-Intermediate English learners. A Pre-Intermediate level student would be expected to score around 3 – 4 on IELTS. Therefore, this level test is a great way for you to find out your approximate English level and IELTS equivalent, so you don’t waste your time and money taking the test when you’re clearly not ready. See the free ClickStudies English Level Test for an approximate guide. The following chart shows how you can measure your score.

3. What IELTS score do I need?

When you ask “Am I ready for the IELTS test”, you need to think about your purpose for taking the IELTS test. If you are migrating to a new country it will be different, depending on the number of points you require. For example, to migrate to Australia, you may get 10 or 20 points towards migration, depending on your needs. To join a college to do a certificate course, you will most likely need a lower score than if you join a university degree course. See EasyMigrate for specific details on IELTS score requirements.


4. What version of IELTS do you need? Academic or General?

Normally, if you’re applying for entry to college or university course, you’ll need to take the Academic version of the IELTS test. If you plan on migrating to a new country, you will probably require the General IELTS test. You should remember, the General and Academic IELTS test have the same structure and content for the listening and speaking sections. In contrast, the reading and writing parts of the test are different for the General and Academic versions of the test. Most people find the Academic version slightly harder than the General version.

5. Should I do the paper-based IELTS test or the computer delivered IELTS test?

For over twenty years, the IELTS test has been paper-based. This changed recently when IELTS became available via computer. If you know the structure of the IELTS test, the good news is that the computer delivered IELTS test follows the same test structure as the traditional paper-based test. In more good news for test-takers, the computer delivered IELTS test has so far been well-received by candidates anwho say the computer platform works well. However, the computer delivered IELTS test is not available in all countries yet. If you are worried about your ability to write neatly and quickly by hand, you will be happy to hear about the changes. See this video about the computer delivered test for information.


6. Where can I get help with the vocabulary I need?

This is a great question because the IELTS test is built on high level vocabulary that you may not use in your daily life. For example, you should not use the word ‘thing’ when you are speaking or writing IELTS. This is despite the fact that the word ‘thing’ is very common is everyday English. Instead you should use the word ‘aspect’. As soon as you start using powerful vocabulary such as ‘aspect’ correctly, your score on the speaking and writing sections of the test will rise. For a great free resource that will help you find and practice the most common 570 words used in academic English and IELTS, check out the RMIT Learning Lab for excellent vocabulary word lists, resources, games, and practice.



7. How should I start my IELTS training?

You have a few choices here. For example, you can study strategies for reading, listening, writing and speaking with videos such as these. You can also purchase a textbook that can help you prepare. Or you can join an IELTS course. There are many options for face-to-face courses although you will be limited by your location.



8. How can I prepare 24/7 using a 100% online IELTS course?

If you are interested in taking a fully online course that covers all aspects and skills required in the IELTS test, as well as practice activities that you can download and weekly office hours with the instructor, you should check out IELTS in 21 Days. This fully online course is for students who want the complete preparation package in an easy-to-understand framework that covers all four skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking. For more information on the 100% online course IELTS Target 7, email


So that’s it. If you need to ask “Am I ready for the IELTS test in 2020?”, then these are the questions you need to ask yourself before committing big money to book an IELTS test. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop a comment below or email the address above for more info.



At ClickStudies, we are often asked about the differences between the IELTS vs TOEFL test, and which one is better or easier to take. If you’ve been wondering the same thing, the following information will be helpful.



The IELTS test was developed in Britain, while the TOEFL test originated in the USA. Therefore, this influences other factors, such as who accepts the results and the type of English used in each test.

Both tests are designed by experts and supported by rigorous research and trialling to ensure their validity.


Who accepts IELTS and TOEFL?



Both tests are accepted as evidence of English language proficiency by more than 9,000 universities and educational institutions in over 130 countries around the world.

In general, TOEFL is more widely accepted in the USA and Canada, whereas IELTS is more commonly accepted in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

As a consequence, many institutions accept both tests, but some do not. Always check with the school you want to attend before you decide which test to take.



IELTS is accepted for migration, work and study in Australia, Canada, NZ and the UK. The US does not accept it for migration purposes.

TOEFL is accepted by the US and Australia for immigration purposes, but it is not accepted by the UK, Canada or New Zealand.



IELTS tests can be done at 1100 testing centres in 140 countries.

TOEFL tests are more widely available (due to the computerised format of the test) and can be done at 4500 testing centres in 165 countries.



Both tests cost between US $150 and $250, depending on the country in which you take the test.

The IELTS test is generally a bit more expensive than the TOEFL.  For example, in Australia, the IELTS test typically costs AUS$330 (2016) whereas the TOEFL ranges from AUS$240-$300.


Validity of results

Both IELTS and TOEFL test results are valid for a period of 2 years. However, some academic institutions may have specific requirements about the validity of the IELTS vs TOEFL test and the timing for course commencement. Again, you need to check carefully with the exact requirements of the college or university you would like to attend. 

For skilled migrant visas in Australia, the period of validity has been extended to 3 years.

FormatPaper-based and Computer delivered in some countriesComputer-based
FocusAcademic or generalAcademic only
Time Duration2 hrs 45 mins4 Hrs
Results13 Days for paper based, less of computer delivered.10 Days
Skills TestedListening, Reading, Writing, SpeakingListening, Reading, Writing, Speaking
Scoring0 - 9 bands of proficiency0 - 120 points
Dialects of EnglishBritish usage; variety of international accents (e.g. Irish, Australian, NZ)Standard American usage and accent
Question types15 different question types (e.g. gap-fill, multiple choice, True/False, matching)

All multiple choice
Listening30 minutes
1 general conversation, 1 general informational lecture, 1 academic conversation, 1 academic lecture
Read questions before and during listening
Memory and note-taking skills not important
40-60 minutes
2-3 conversations and 4-6 lectures – all related to university life
Read questions only after listening and taking notes
Memory and note-taking skills important
Reading60 minutes
3 passages (Academic test)
5 shorter texts (General test)
Increasing level of difficulty
60-100 minutes
4-6 passages
Academic texts only
Same level of difficulty
Writing60 minutes
Answers handwritten
Task 1 Academic – 150-word report describing a graph, table or diagram
Task 1 General – 150-word letter

Task 2 - 250-word opinion essay
50 minutes
Answers typed into computer
Task 1 – Read a short passage and listen to a 2-minute lecture, then write a 150-225-word answer to a related question.
Task 2 – 300-350-word opinion essay
Speaking12-15 minutes
Talking with an examiner in person
3 parts
Answer short questions on familiar topics
Two-minute speech on a given topic
Answer follow-up questions on your speech topic from part 2.
Assessed at the time of speaking
20 minutes
Talking to a computer
6 parts
2 x question on familiar topic
2 x summary and opinion of short written text and conversation
2 x summary of short conversation

Assessed later by an examiner

Which test should I take?

The answer to this question depends on:

The requirements of the school you wish to attend or the country you wish to migrate to. Check them carefully!

Your skills.  If you are better at typing than handwriting, then the TOEFL test may be a better option for you.  If you are not at all comfortable with computers and don’t like the idea of talking to a computer instead of a person, you might be better at the IELTS test. If you like multiple-choice questions and listening to American accents, then you may find TOEFL easier than IELTS. However, if you are not good at taking notes while listening to a lecture, TOEFL will be harder for you.

Look carefully at the format of each test in the table above and decide which one is better suited to your skills.



Based on conversations and online comments of students who’ve taken both tests, the consensus seems to be that TOEFL requires a higher level of concentration and stamina for a longer period of time. It can be exhausting!  The fact that IELTS also contains general English tasks (not just academic) and a greater variety of question types (not just multiple-choice) leads many students to prefer the IELTS test.

IELTS Reading Overview and Strategies

IELTS Reading Overview and Strategies

The reading section of the test takes about 60 minutes to complete, including transfer time. The structure of the test is different for the Academic and General versions of the exam.

The IELTS reading test is a race against the clock.  With 60 minutes to read 5 passages and answer 40 questions about them, you must work fast.  You have approximately one-and-a-half minutes per question.  The biggest problem that candidates face is not having enough time to finish the reading completely.

The key to success is to develop fast reading skills, including skimming (to understand the main idea), scanning (to find the location of the answer) and detailed reading (to understand the information well enough to answer the question correctly).

If you were taught in school to read every text slowly and carefully until you understand every word, you must break this habit!

Here are a few videos that we recently put together on IELTS reading.

Do not start by reading the whole text. This will waste valuable time. Instead, you should start by skimming the text to get a general feel for its structure and main ideas. By doing this step, you will save yourself time when finding the location of each answer after you read the questions.

Read with your pen and work quickly.  You should spend no more than 1-2 minutes on this.  Read the first paragraph for an introduction to the topic, and then quickly underline the first sentence in each paragraph.  Don’t be tempted to read further in detail! If you can, quickly write a note in the margin next to each paragraph to help remind you later what’s in the paragraph (eg. you might write ‘causes’ or ‘history’).

Remember, when viewing the text quickly you need to see the main words and phrases rather than all the individual words.

By making this road map, you will get a good feel for where things are in the text – which paragraph is about health effects, which paragraph is about solutions, etc.  You don’t yet need to know what the health effects are, or what the solutions are – just where they are! This is an important time-saver when you move on to look at each question and have to scan quickly find the section of the text which contains the answer.

Important! This is not a natural skill for many readers. It takes lots of practice, but you can practice on almost any text.  Make it a habit!