Thinking of studying in the UK? Start preparing now

If you are going to study at a British university, you will need a high level of English. Not only will you have to listen to lectures and read books on difficult academic subjects, but you will probably have to write about them too.

Your exams will be written, as will most of the work you will have to do. Knowing how to get by in English is not enough.

For this reason, most universities set a certain level of English as a requirement for enrolment in their programs and you will be asked to produce a certificate from a recognized language testing organization before you can enroll.

You can check the websites of the universities you are interested in to see which exams they recognize, but you will almost certainly find IELTS Preparation Course in Dubai on the list.

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System, which is jointly administer by Cambridge ESOL, the British Council and IELTS Australia. Over 500,000 people take the exam each year and it is recognize by nearly 4,000 universities, government agencies and professional bodies in 120 countries.

The IELTS exam consists of four parts:

reading (1 hour), writing (1 hour), listening (approximately 40 minutes) and speaking (which consist of an 11-14 minute conversation with the examinee). There are two versions of the exam – an academic and a general education version. However, universities usually require the academic version.

How is IELTS assess?

For each written IELTS you will receive a score between 0 (did not attempt) and 9 (good). You will find that universities rarely accept an overall score of less than 6 (proficient) and the requirements are often higher.

For example, the University of Bristol requires a minimum overall score of 6.5 for most subjects, but 7 (proficient) for law and medicine and 7.5 for English.

Why should I study?

If you plan to study in the UK, you probably already have a good general level of English. However, the IELTS exam not only tests your general knowledge of English, but also your ability to apply your knowledge in an academic context.

You may be good at grammar and vocabulary, but unless you have received specialist training, you will not necessarily know what form of organization, paragraph breaks, style etc.

you should use in your writing. Writing habits vary considerably from culture to culture, and what is consider good writing in your language may not be acceptable in English – and certainly vice versa.

How can I prepare?

Many language schools and other institutions organize specific IELTS preparation courses, but this option may not be suitable for you. There may not be a course in your city, the cost may be prohibitive, or the time and/or effort required for the course may simply not fit in with your other studies.

But there is another option

You can now find a number of good online courses aimed at preparing you for the IELTS exam. Some of these focus on just one section of the exam (often the written section), but others, such as Net Languages’ IELTS preparation course, focus on the entire exam.

The online materials provide guidance and practice for success on all four exams

And your tutor is there to correct your written work (via email), give you practice for the speaking exam (via Skype or other VOIP software) and generally help you with any problems you may have.

Will the university help me once I arrive?

Yes. The IELTS exam is just the first step. Most universities will ask you to complete a preparatory course in the months leading up to the start of your academic course.

Again, this is not just to improve your general English, but to prepare for the demands of your course: listening to lectures, discussing topics in seminars and presentations, using academic writing styles, reading academic textbooks, etc.

Preparatory courses are also invaluable as they provide a period of adjustment, allowing you to get use to living in Britain, start making friends and resolve the problems of everyday life before the heavy demands of your academic course begin.

Some universities provide a single standardized preparation program, while others base their requirements on IELTS (or another exam) results.

Kings College London, for example, requires students with an IELTS score of only 5.5 to take a three-month preparatory course, while those with scores of 6.0 and 6.5 can choose shorter periods if they wish.

Some universities may offer you a place on a pre-professional study program even if your test results still fall short of the requirements of the university department you wish to enter, with the option to retake the exam at the end.

In this case, the length of the pre-vocational course will depend on how much you need to improve.

In the case of IELTS, if no individual score was less than 0.5 below the minimum required

you could probably improve your score by 1.0 in about twelve weeks, turning an insufficient 5.5 overall into an adequate 6.5. If, on the other hand, you were particularly weak in one area, you might need more time.

So – if you are thinking of studying in Britain or any other English-speaking country, the first step is to improve your language skills. And if you are not sure about the concept of “down to earth”, you can start preparing now.

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