IELTS is the International English Language Testing System which tests your English proficiency. It is most of the time required for employment or migration to countries which has English as the first language. There are 2 kinds of IELTS – Academic and General Training.
The Academic test is for those who want to study at a tertiary level in an English-speaking country. The General Training test is for those who want to do work experience or training programs, secondary school or migrate to an English-speaking country. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests.
I’ve taken the General Training test recently and contrary to what you might be thinking, it’s actually a fairly easy exam to take. Correct grammar isn’t the focus on the test (at least that’s what I think but I’m probably wrong here), it is merely to check if you have a full grasp of the English language in terms of understanding a native English speaker and if you are able to fully express yourself in this language.
On this post, I’ll be highlighting the steps we took in order to take the IELTS exam here in Doha. It’s a very straightforward procedure which I was thankful for as we didn’t have to go around the city to complete it.
HOW TO TAKE IELTS EXAM IN DOHA:
1. Check for available test dates.
Before registering online, you have to know what kind of test is suitable for you – should it be Academic or General Training test? Once decided, you can check the available dates for the same exam on the British Council Website (click here). You can either click the “Apply Now” button beside the date that you’re interested in or proceed to step number 2 on this post.
2. Register for IELTS.
You can register for IELTS on the British Council website (click here). You will need to have a valid ID while doing so. For expats, they will only accept your passport as a form of valid ID while for Qatari locals, they will accept National ID or passport. You will be required to upload an image of these identifications during the registration process as well as a payment of QR900 using your credit card.
Note: If you don’t have a credit card, you have the option to pay later which gives you 3 days to finalize the payment by paying directly at the British Council office.
3. Preparation for the test.
Once registration is completed, you will have an access to practice tests on their website which gives you an idea of how the actual exam is going to be. Just to warn you, I think it’s a MUST for you to do these practice tests specially the listening part as it is a little bit confusing at first. Having an idea of how the test goes will make you more confident on the day of the exam itself.
A few days prior the exam, you will receive a text message from the British Council stating where and what time your written and speaking exams will be. My schedule for both written and speaking exams was on the same day – Saturday, while some people had their speaking exam a day before the written exam.
4. Taking the exam.
We arrived 7:30 am at Al Ahnaf Bin Qais Independent School in Al Dafna and there were about 300 people who were going to take the exam. We started with the registration immediately and as soon as our details and photo were taken – we proceeded inside the examination area which is the school’s gymnasium. You’re not allowed to bring any bags, cellphones, keys and not even to wear a watch. They are very strict and will kick you out of the examination hall if they see anything which aren’t allowed inside with you. They do have a place inside the school itself where you can deposit your belongings before taking the exam but if you have a car, leave everything inside the car. It will be much easier for you. For the complete list of restrictions during the IELTS exam, you can visit this link.
As soon as the exam starts, there will be no breaks. It starts at exactly 9 in the morning and ends at 11:45, you can of course take a pee break but there will be no time extension for you as everyone takes the exam at the same time. You have to listen carefully to the instructions as there will be no time for you to correct any mistakes since everything is being done according to schedule.
First part is the listening part – you will be given a headphone, questionnaire and an answer sheet. You are given a few minutes to read the questions before they start the recording. The recordings are mostly two people having a conversation or someone presenting a report. Questions are based on these recordings so you have to listen carefully as some of it are a bit tricky.
Second part is reading, you’ll be given a questionnaire and an answer sheet. Questions are based on short stories or newspaper articles. This, for me was the easiest part of the exam as all of the answers are right in front of you. It’s not as confusing as the listening part.
Third and the last part of your written exam is the writing. You are given two exercises in this exam. First is you have to write a letter based on the scenario given to you and the second part is to write an essay about a particular topic given. For the fear of getting my exam results disqualified – I cannot disclose what the topics were during my exam. I think your best option is to take the practice test that you can find from the IELTS website.
Depending on the schedule given to you, speaking exam comes right after. You will be interviewed by a British Council employee which will be recorded the entire time. It felt to me like a normal conversation, I didn’t feel like I was taking an exam or that the person I’m talking to is probably analyzing everything that I’m saying. He did ask some questions about current events so maybe being updated with what’s happening around you could help. Otherwise, it was a very normal conversation. Nothing to be nervous about.
5. Getting the IELTS result.
13 days after the exam, you will receive a text message from the British Council advising you of your overall score. We received the text message on a Thursday and then Friday, we were able to see the detailed score (scores for each part of the exam – reading, writing, listening, speaking) of our exam online. Saturday, we went to British Council office to get the print out of this result.
It’s a very straightforward procedure and very easy one to follow too. I got an overall score of 8 in my IELTS exam which is 4 points higher than what was required from me. 🙂