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IELTS Progress check: everything you need to know about it
IELTS Progress Check is, basically, an online sample test that closely simulates the experience of the IELTS computer-delivered. The results are assessed and scored by official expert IELTS markers and a report detailing the test-taker's performance is sent a few days after the test completion. It evaluates all of the 4 language skills: listening, reading, writing and even speaking.
I was generously given the opportunity to take a complimentary IELTS Progress Check by the IELTS Partners and my experience is as follows.
The enrollment process is very straightforward and takes just a few minutes to be completed. All you have to do is fill in a short form with your personal information and then add your credit card details to pay the test fee. In a few minutes a confirmation message is sent to your email and you can start the test immediately after that.
Timed x untimed version
There is a timed and an untimed version of the test and I decided to take the former to make the experience as authentic as possible. Time management is undeniably one of the greatest challenges test takers face and, to help you with that, there is a stopwatch at the top of the screen, which shows how many minutes you still have left to finish the test.
I highly recommend that you try the timed version, especially if you have already scheduled your IELTS test date. You will be able to observe how you feel having to deal with all the pressure of answering the questions within the determined timeframe and, in addition to that, your result will definitely be more reliable.
IELTS Progress Check
When you access the platform, you will see a few useful instructions and four big icons for each test skill. You may decide the sequence in which you would like to take the test, but I also suggest following the traditional order (listening - reading - writing) to make the most of your experience. The Speaking test may be done before or after you take the three other skills, similar to what happens when you take the IELTS test.
I started with the Listening test, which was a smart choice as my concentration was at its peak. The recoding was clear and all the steps I had to follow were carefully explained. As always, I was given a few seconds to analyze the questions before the recording started and at the end of each part to check my answers.
Many students feel discouraged to take the computer-delivered version of IELTS because of how exhausting they believe reading on screen might be. But if you are used to reading the news online or have an ebook reader, I can guarantee you that the Reading test will be more manageable than you imagine. A major advantage when answering gap-filling tasks is that you can copy the answers from the text and paste them in the answer boxes, which will prevent you from making spelling mistakes.
The Writing test was as expected: the topics for writing task 1 and writing task 2 are made available at the same time and you can choose how you want to start. I started with writing task 2 as it is worth twice as much as writing task 1. A great feature in this part of the test is the word counter, which helps you save time and have peace of mind to focus on the writing process itself.
The Speaking test is 100% recorded and you will be walked through each part of the test by the recording. I admit I was a little hesitant about talking with the computer and not a human being. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by how natural the recording sounded and I felt as if I were indeed interacting with the examiner.
In Speaking Part 1 there are twelve questions to be answered about three different topics, in Part 2, you have to talk about a topic for about two minutes and in Part 3 there are 8 questions to be answered. It is crucial to keep in mind that you have to be objective when answering the questions in Parts 1 and 3. You have only about 30 seconds to talk and only one chance to record it.
I received my IELTS Progress Check Report within two days after taking the test, despite the 5-day period it may take them to send the results. Besides the indicative overall band score and detailed indicative band scores for each skill, the report includes a detailed analysis of your performance and useful suggestions on how to improve and develop your language skills for IELTS.
You are not able to take a look back at the written tests or revise your answers in the speaking test, but the comments on the report will help you understand your main difficulties and what aspects you need to strengthen.
Why take IELTS Progress Check?
As a whole, I think IELTS Progress Check is a useful resource for those who want to understand how much they have progressed in their preparation for IELTS and to become familiar with the dynamics of taking the test on the computer. Moreover, the report is extremely useful and can help you understand your weaknesses and what you need to do to achieve your goal. Therefore, considering all the benefits and the fact that it is a quarter of the price of IELTS, I believe it is worth the investment.
Soraya Quirino is a Brazilian EFL teacher and has been preparing students for IELTS since 2011. She lives in Montreal, Canada.
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