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IELTS exam

IELTS exam

Express entry

Please read Express entry 101 before this post.

Taking the IELTS exam is one of the requirements for express entry and doing well is a score booster as you can get as much as 50 points if you obtain the right marks in the exam. To avail all possible points for the ielts exam, the target exam score should be L=8, R=7, W=7, S=7 or greater but not below. If you obtain scores below this, as long as you are achieve a CLB 7 band score, you will still be eligible for express entry however you will not avail all possible points for the ielts exam. Always remember that the key is to have the highest points possible as it increases your chances of receiving an ITA sooner. Now let’s break it down.

IELTS means International English Language Testing System and it is a test of English language proficiency. Please don’t ask me why Nigerians have to take the exam since our official language is English and we were colonized by the English (if you ask me, na who I go ask…. 😀 ). There are two modes of the IELTS exam – General and Academic. For express entry, you are to write the General mode of the exam. It is my understanding that the Academic mode of the exam is for students seeking admission to schools in Canada. The current pattern of the IELTS exam is that it is split in four parts.


You will listen to recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions. In most centres, the recordings will be played via speakers available in the exam hall. Some people who have taken the exam in Nigeria have mentioned that they were provided with headphones to listen to the recordings but this is uncommon for those who take the exam outside Nigeria. I will suggest you practice without headphones so you are not unduly surprised on the day of the exam. You would be provided with the question paper before the recordings begin playing so glance through the questions if allowed. Once the recordings begin, the answers are usually sequential (don’t forget this!!). This means that if you have not written the answer for number 3 and you hear the answer for question number 4, write that down and move on to 5. Don’t remain stuck on question number 3 or any other question that you missed. You would need to move as you hear the answers in the recordings. Try to drown out external noise and focus intently on the voice in the recordings – full concentration is required. This part of the exam lasts for around 30 minutes.


The Reading segment consists of 40 questions with answers included in the passages preceding the questions. For those who completed secondary schooling in Nigeria, the comprehension passages are similar to WAEC/SSCE/GCE/JAMB English style exam. Full concentration is also required as the answers are sometimes “hidden” within the passages are not easily discerned. This part of the exam lasts for around 60 minutes.


Yes you will “WRITE” on paper and not type lol. There are two sections and if you feel you do not write as fast as you would like to, then begin with the second part as more marks are allotted. The first section involves writing around 150 words and the second section involves writing around 250 words. The second section is usually more intense and seeks to gauge how advanced your writing is and the lexical construction of your sentences. Try to practice before hand and use “better” words if possible for e.g use vivid instead of very clear etc. This part of the exam lasts for around 60 minutes.


This is the verbal part of the exam which lasts for 11 to 14 minutes where your pronunciation, diction and sentence formation are assessed. Similar to the Writing part of the exam, try to practice before hand and use “better” words if possible for e.g say stunning instead of very fine etc. Try not to speak too little or you may lose marks as each question is timed. You may be given a sheet of paper to compose your thoughts before answering. It is not a truth or dare session hence the examiner is not testing your righteousness in the answers! It is a test of English so if you are asked for e.g – ‘What part of your house do you love the most?’, even if you are homeless and have no house you can imaginatively answer the question!

When you start practicing, try scoring yourself as well. This link explains the band scores vs Correct answers . Also check out – The minimum ielts band score for the express entry principal applicant is CLB 7 but in order to avail the full points, aim to score L=8, R=7, W=7, S=7 or greater in each part of the exam.  It is okay if the spouse achieves a CLB 6.

IELTS is not the only possible English exam you can take for the express entry process but it is the most popular option. The CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) may be taken instead of ielts. If you understand French, you can take the TEF (Test d’évaluation de français) exam in addition and this will boost your score as you will gain points for an additional language.

The below sites can be used in preparing for the IELTS exam:

Averaging your language score: for people with a physical or mental disability

If you aren’t able to complete one or more sections of your language test because of a disability, you must:

The Comprehensive Ranking System – Language calculator isn’t the same as the Comprehensive Ranking System tool.

There are two institutions in UAE that you can register and write the ielts exam – British Council and University of Wollongong. Please check and find the one nearest to you. The exam fees are not too disproportionate. In Nigeria, only British Council is available.

The exam results are usually available 13/14 days (2 weeks) after the examination but may be withheld for investigation. Usually when results are withheld, it is because there is more than a 2 band difference between the scores e.g L=9, R=6 so they are checking to be sure that no malpractice was informed. This is however not the only reason for a withheld result. Also, you can contest a result if you believe you should have scored higher marks.



The word is always spelled practice in American English. In British English, the noun form is also spelled practice. The word is spelled practise when used as a verb in British English.

P.S Be consistent in your ielts exam – if you begin with British English and spellings, avoid switching to American English and spellings.

Also check YouTube for more tips, tricks and practice questions

About the author

Sugar, spice and all things sweet


  1. Yemisi
    March 22, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks f

    • Jahdal
      April 30, 2018 at 11:06 pm

      You’re welcome!

  2. IT
    March 24, 2018 at 3:03 am

    Interesting…very informative, thanks.

    • Jahdal
      April 30, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      You’re welcome!!

  3. Patience
    May 9, 2018 at 9:47 am

    This is very informative and helpful, thanks a lot for the details in it .

    • Jahdal
      July 15, 2018 at 4:17 am

      Thank you!

  4. Abiola
    July 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Again this is quite Helpful !! Many thanks !!

    • Jahdal
      July 15, 2018 at 4:17 am

      Thank you!

  5. Omere
    September 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    I just got a hold of your blog thanks to your sister and I’m glad I did as it’s interesting to read your experience, thank you for your blog.
    What book would you recommend to use to prepare for IELTS?

  6. Marko
    March 6, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Hi there! Such a wonderful post, thank you!

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