What is the IELTS?

The IELTS test measures your ability to use the English language in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and is the most popular test for showcasing proficiency in the English language for higher education and international careers.

Possessing good communication skills —listening, reading, writing, and speaking — is important for education, employment, and social purposes in the digital age. All of us should be able to effectively convey and receive messages through phone, email, social media, and in-person.

English is the primary language of an ever-growing global market in healthcare, BPO, and technology. In a 2017 study conducted by KPMG, they found that approximately 84.2% of outsourcing deals originated from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom at 5.2%.

Global Outsourcing Industry

That means 90% of the global outsourcing industry has English as its primary language. If your desire is to work for a healthcare BPO company or work abroad, having a foundation and fluency in English is a must.

The IELTS is effective at measuring a person’s ability to use the English language. Each skill is tested: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Scores range from non-user (Band 1.0) to expert user (9.0), with 0.5 increments for IELTS’ half-scores. Results are treated with extreme respect to avoid cultural unfairness. The test is accepted in 180 countries depending on the scores they require.


Tips to Prepare for the IELTS

1. Skill Set Improvement

Create a realistic study plan before you book the test and customize the plan to your needs. Make sure the plan maintains your strong skills and improves on your weak areas. Focus on your weak areas more than your strengths. For example, if you find yourself having difficulty in speaking, try talking to a colleague in English to practice or watch speaking samples on YouTube and observe the speech delivery.

2. Time Management

Every time you practice, time yourself to get the feel for the timing of the actual test. For instance, set the clock for 60 minutes to write two IELTS tasks. Practicing under time pressure will help manage expectations.

3. Get Enough Sleep

You can find plenty of “excuses” to stay up late (i.e. Netflix) but getting a good night’s sleep before the test is essential. Having quality sleep will increase your focus and concentration during the test. To take it a step further, we recommend getting your body on a sleep schedule at least a week before the test, as “night before nervousness” could make it harder to sleep without a schedule.

Tips and Tricks for IELTS

Tips on the Day of the IELTS

1. Good Nutrition

Enjoy a healthy and substantial breakfast on the test day for better brain function but don’t choose a meal that could make your stomach upset.

2. Wear Comfortable Clothing

If the test location is in a hotel, the air-conditioning is usually set very low. Wear layers of clothing so you won’t get cold but can also remove if you get too warm.

3. Pay Attention

For writing:

    • Be mindful of the given instructions.
    • Aside from sentence construction, take note of the word limit, spelling, and punctuation marks. Even if those mentioned seem minor, accumulated errors may still affect your band score.
    • Make sure your handwriting is legible and neat (paper-based test). Cursive or non-cursive is acceptable; avoid writing in “all capital” letters.
    • For speaking:
    • Listen very well to the question of the examiner. If the question is unclear, ask the examiner to repeat or clarify it.
    • Be calm and confident during the test.


For listening:

    • Look at two to three questions at a time. You are given 30 seconds to scan and skim the questions, instructions, and keywords.
    • Sound checks are done before the test so don’t worry about the audio quality.


For reading:

    • Read the instructions.
    • Skim and scan — you don’t need to read the whole text. Get the key words, locate them, and get the correct answer.
    • You can skip difficult questions and go back when everything else has been answered.


Tips after Taking IELTS

Celebrate for a job well done! Even if the results are not yet out, treat yourself. You worked hard!

At Shearwater Health, our Training & Development team is composed of a diverse group of clinicians whose expertise spans across multiple areas from communication skills to different business and clinical processes. Our IELTS-certified Trainers tailor-fit the training to your needs. If you’re a Registered Nurse interested in working in the U.S. contact us to see how we can enhance your professional development.