English exams & Covid-19, as of 17th March 2020.

IELTS: Currently, whether or not to run exams is at the discretion of individual exam centres. Cancelled as following:

  • Aberdeen – Tests currently suspended until 4 April 2020
  • Southampton – Tests currently suspended until 21 March 2020
  • INTO Glasgow – Tests currently suspended until 18 April 2020
  • University of Sheffield – Tests currently suspended until 25 March 2020

PTE: varies around the UK so best to contact PTE direct.

How long do I have to write my exam essay?

In my experience, time pressure is often a huge concern for both IELTS and PTE candidates. The factors contributing to this stress are:

  • How to get started?
  • What to write?
  • Choosing the ‘right’ words?
  • Check spelling!

Therefore, your choice of exam is important in respect of how long is allowed for the essay-writing. Options are:

  • PTE which allocates 20 minutes to write, 200 – 300 words.
  • IELTS, both computer-delivered and paper-based, which allocate 40 minutes to write a minimum 250 words.

After that, both marking marking criteria are very similar so therefore time allowed becomes an important difference.

Computer-delivered IELTS, Edinburgh

New to Scotland, the established Basil Paterson Exam Centre now offers computer-delivered IELTS exams in its purpose-built computer exam suite.

General and Academic modules available, three times per month. More details and information on this link.

How to write English exam essay introductions.

The introduction is where the examiner first experiences students’ writing and they will form his/her judgement quickly. A poor introduction will require the writer to change the examiners mind in later paragraphs to score well. In addition, introductions are the place where the reader outlines the structure of their essay and can prevent examiners from becoming confused about the direction of an essay.

In the opening sentence of the essay students should state the topic and suggest a reason why the topic is important. Introducing the topic in the first sentence is critical if the reader is to be sure of what the topic of the essay is.

The second sentence is the ideas sentence. This sentence is probably the most critical of the essay and has two functions. This may take the form of rephrasing the question.

The final sentence is to allow the reader to understand the direction of the arguments and the overall structure the essay. The listing of key ideas is very important because it also helps keep the writer focused on the topic rather than drifting and writing about unrelated topics.

At the end of the introduction a reader should know what the topic is, why the topic is important, the key ideas as well as the structure and the aim of the essay. When all of these items are present, the reader is unlikely to become confused about the direction or the content of the essay.

3 Step plan to IELTS and PTE English exam success

Step 1:

choose the better exam for you, either IELTS or PTE, and be realistic when setting achievable target scores, for extra visa points.

Step 2:
request pre-exam tasks to complete at home, to return for free  assessment and feedback, prior to scheduling your individual tuition.

Step 3:
Work on exam strategies and techniques with support, and self-study material, from your tutor, up to the exam date booked.

IELTS v PTE Essay Writing

One of the conversations I frequently have with students, concerns switching exam formats. This may be from General IELTS to Academic PTE, or visa versa. However, the reasons for this option are critical when looking at the advantages and disadvantages, to you, of switching exam format.

Writing: there is no advantage opting for one exam, over the other, as this part of the exam is marked in the same way in both IELTS and PTE. Although, in IELTS Writing Task1 is simpler than PTE Writing Task 1.

Speaking: is significantly simpler in IELTS as it involves interacting with a person, rather than being marked by a computer, and is not based on academic tasks, as in PTE.

Listening: as IELTS is designed as a skills-based exam, this is more straightforward that PTE listening. In contrast, PTE is designed as a listening and note-taking exam and therefore, the listening section has a strong emphasis on grammar and vocabulary.

Reading: in contrast to the writing section, if this is the problem area in IELTS, PTE reading is much simpler because of the exam design, see above.

Best English exam for YOU , IELTS or PTE?

Over and over again, I have conversations with people who have booked an English exam date, either IELTS or PTE, without having done any research in advance.

This approach can prove to be not both expensive and frustrating as well. Would you spend money on a new purchase for your home without doing some ‘desk research’ first? Probably not. Therefore, my recommendation is to avoid any knee jerk response, after hearing you have to sit one of the above exams, and consider what the differences between them mean, for you in the exam room.

Then work through the following step by step approach to make sure you’re fully prepared when the exam date comes around   

Step 1 : Make time to study exam preparation material as finding time is often the critical factor required to achieve your English exam target scores. 

Step 2 : Complete pre-exam tasks for assessment and be realistic about what your starting point is.

Step 3 : Book an exam date after you feel confident you understand what’s involved.

Step 4 : Practice exam strategies and techniques, widely available online.

to success!

Gain Extra Visa Points

Gaining extra visa points is not always easy to achieve. As a result, some people panic when faced with the prospect of having to sit and English exam, either IELTS or PTE to boost their visa applications. Therefore, adopting a step by step approach, going back to the basics of English grammar and spelling, is a good starting point.

Try these links for basic revision of what you know:




Don’t Panic… Contact us!

Step by step
Start with basic English

English exams for nurses

Nurses sitting English exams, as part of their skills assessment, have three options:

Academic IELTS , minimum Band 7 in all 4 sections : https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/choose

Pearson PTE, 65+ in all 4 Communicative Skills: https://pearsonpte.com/

Occupational English Test: https://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/

After achieving the necessary scores for this purpose, it is sometimes then necessary to either resit Pearson PTE or switch IELTS module, from Academic to General, to score minimum Band 8, in IELTS, or 79+ in PTE, for visa application purposes.

 Founder & owner Marian Anderson

Who We Are

English for Emigration, founded by Marian Andersen, helps you identify the problems which prevent you achieving your target scores in IELTS or Pearson PTE exams, to speed up your visa application process.

0131 661 6236 (tel)


Need help with your visa application?

For specific questions about visa applications, the following organisations can help:

www.downundercentre.com www.emigrationgroup.com www.overseas-emigration.co.uk

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