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The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

How can I get a better IELTS band score?

If you’re thinking about going to university in an English-speaking country, you will need to take the IELTS test. Find out all about the test and how to get a better IELTS score.

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International students who want to do an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at an English-speaking university need to take an IELTS test and get a minimum band score. But what is the IELTS test? Why do universities need you to take the test? And how do you get the IELTS band score you need? Read on to find out.  


What is IELTS? 


It’s the International English Language Testing System. There are two versions of the test – international students who want to study at university need to take the Academic version. Sometimes it’s called the IELTS test, sometimes the IELTS exam – they’re both the same thing.


There are four parts to the test – ReadingWritingListening and Speaking. You get a band score for each part and an overall band score. Universities will tell you what score they require from you for each part of the test and the overall score too.  


There are nine bands ranging from 0-9, with 9 being the highest score. Generally, to study at undergraduate level you will need an overall band score 6.0; it’s a minimum band score of 6.5 for postgraduate study.  


Why is IELTS important?  


The reason universities need you to take the test and get a minimum band score is to make sure that you have the correct level of English to do well in your university course. 


For example, if you want to study nursing at the University of Sheffield, the English language requirement is: 


Speaking, Reading, Listening 






Benefits of taking the IELTS test: 

  • 100% of universities in the UK and Australia accept it 
  • more than 3,500 organisations in the US use it 
  • you can book the test at a centre near you
  • it’s academic English which you will need at university
  • employers use IELTS to help them choose the right people. 


How do you get the IELTS band score you need?  


Remember, the IELTS test helps organisations to understand your level of English. It’s a test of your ability to use the English language in an academic context. It doesn’t test your general knowledge nor how good you are in a subject. It tests your ability to read, write, listen, and speak in English in many different areas.  


So, to get the band score that you need, your general English level needs to be good.  


              IELTS band score 6.0 = B2 level (Upper Intermediate) level of English. 


So, if you need a 6.0 but your current level of English is B1 (Intermediate) level then you must: 


✅ improve* your general level of English  

✅ read and speak in English every day 

✅ listen to English every day (podcasts, radio, news, music channels, etc.) 

✅ learn about the test 

✅ practise, practise, practise for the test. 

(*make your general level of English better)


There are IELTS tips for international students on how to improve your English level and also more information about the test.  


TOP TIP: work on improving your general English AND practice for the IELTS test at the same time. Don’t just keep taking tests, that’s not going to help your English get better. It may not be easy, but it will be worth the hard work.  


IELTS is the key to open the door to your future.  


The best of luck on your journey! 







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