The overlying purpose of the IELTS requirement to any University course or program is to ensure that your skills are strong enough to get the most out the course on offer, as well as keep up with your peers in terms of grades. It also makes it easier for the University to ensure its staff are equipped to teach and assess every student in their class.
The IELTS scores required are stricter in Australia and New Zealand than some other English-speaking nations, as there are generally fewer universities available than the UK or US, for example, so they can be more competitive with their requirements.
Scores required in Australia
The top 3 universities in Australia (according to Times Higher Education University rankings 2018) require the following IELTS scores for international applicants:
- University of Melbourne: 7 overall score with a minimum of 7 across each band.
- Australian National University: 6 overall score with a minimum of 6 across each band.
- University of Sydney: 6.5 overall score with a minimum score of 6 across each band section score.
The lowest score for IELTS required across Australian universities is 5.0 which is required by Victoria University, where the minimum across all sections must be 5 also.
Scores required in New Zealand
The top 3 universities in New Zealand (according to Times Higher Education University rankings 2018) require the below IELTS score for international applicants:
- University of Auckland: Overall score of 6.5 and all bands 6.0 or higher.
- University of Otago: 6 overall score with no individual band below 6.
- University of Canterbury: Overall score of 6 with all bands 5.5 or above.
The remainder of the universities in New Zealand do not fall below this level of English language entry criteria. It should also be noted that these are all the minimum scores for consideration, so the actual score you will need to successfully apply to these institutions is likely to be higher. This is why it is so important to prepare thoroughly for the IELTS exam, so you can ensure this does not hold back your application. Find out details on IELTS preparation and free practice resources available.
How to get Top IELTS Scores
Firstly, for both the Reading and Writing modules, make sure you give an answer for every question. Even if you are well prepared for IELTS, you could find yourself missing some of the answers on the Listening module or running out of time in the Reading module –timing is very tight for the Reading module. If you have a few questions that you haven’t been able to answer fully, it is better just to guess and gain a chance of picking up the marks, rather than leaving questions unanswered.
In the Writing module, make sure you read the question carefully, double check that you understand what you have been asked to do and make sure you answer the question as accurately and fully as possible. For example: If in Task 2 you are asked ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree’ you should discuss how much you, not other people, agree or disagree with the statement. Not answering the specific question given is one of the main reasons candidates are marked down.
If you have a good level of English, you do not want to see your Writing band score (and thus your overall band score) go down because you failed to answer the question. On the plus side, if you do a good job of simply answering the questions that are asked, this will have the effect of boosting your score (for Task Achievement in Task 1 and Task Response in Task 2), even if you are weaker in the other criteria, since you will score highly (closer to 9) in that first criterion. In addition, you have to make sure that you write enough words. For Task 1, you must write at least 150 words and for Task 2, at least 250 words. If you write less than these amounts, you will be deducted marks.
Of all the modules, test-takers will often find the Speaking module to be the most challenging, because Speaking is the module that is most affected by your personality. You may be a quiet and shy person who doesn’t say very much even in your mother tongue, so you may find the Speaking interview particularly challenging. Unfortunately, the examiner can’t take this into consideration, so you need to speak as much as you can. It helps to remember that the examiner, unlike a teacher, is looking for the positives in your English, so the more you can say, the more chance you have to get a higher score. Some candidates feel that there is a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ answer and that they will be judged on this. This is not the case; the examiner is only interested in how you express your ideas in English – it doesn’t matter what those ideas are.