Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taking the IELTS

What is the IELTS?
One of the most widely accepted English language tests in the world
Has two types: Academic or General Training
Costs $205 (in the U.S.)
Offered at 800 testing centers up to four times a month and you can take it as many times as you wish.
Nearest testing centers: Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, BC

Format

    Section
   Time Limit
     Questions    
       Tasks
    Listening
    30 minutes with 10 minutes to transfer answers
      40 questions
    Listen to two conversations, a speech, and a lecture
    Reading 
     60 minutes
     40 questions
      3 sections
     Writing
     60 minutes
     2 tasks
     Write at least 150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2
     Speaking
     11-14 minutes  
      2 parts
     Recorded, face-to-face appointment with a trained examiner. Part 1 is an interview, Part 2 is an individual long turn, and part 3 is a discussion with the interviewer


Scoring

  • Overall Scores:1.0-9.0
  • Band Scores
  • University of Washington requires a 7.0 overall

Listening

  • 30 minutes with 10 minutes to transfer answers
4 Sections
1.Everyday conversation between two people
Ex. A conversation in a travel agency
2.A monologue about an everyday topic
Ex. A speech about a general topic
3.A conversation between up to four people in an academic setting
Ex. A study group meeting to talk about an assignment
4.A monologue on an academic topic
Ex. A university lecture
  • Each section heard once
  • Variety of accents
  • 40 Questions

Question Types

  • Multiple Choice
  • Matching
  • Filling out a form
  • Complete notes
  • Complete a table
  • Complete a summary
  • Complete a sentence
  • Short answer (Complete sentence) questions

Skills tested:

  • Understanding main ideas and details
  • Recognizing opinions, attitudes, and purpose of the speaker
  • Following the development of an argument

Skills similar to those in IEP Listening and Speaking Classes

  • Understanding main idea and supporting details
  • Understanding speakers’ reason for speaking, purpose, and opinions
  • Understanding relationship between ideas and details

Reading

  • 60 minutes (no time to transfer answers)
  • 2,150-2,750 words
  • 3 sections
  • Academic Reading or General Training Reading

Academic Reading

  • 3 authentic texts from books, journals, newspapers, and magazines
  • Each section has one text
  • General academic topics
  • Undergraduate level
  • Diagrams and charts
  • Glossary for technical terms

General Info

  • 40 questions
  • Question Types
  • Multiple Choice
  • True/False/Not Given
  • Matching
  • Identifying the author's opinion
  • Sentance, summary, and note completion
  • Table, chart, or graph completion
  • Short-answer Questions

Skills tested

  • Identify main ideas and supposting details
  • Summarizing
  • Inference and implied meaning
  • Recognizing author's opinion, attitudes, and purpose
  • Following the development of an argument

Writing

  • 60 minutes
  • Two tasks
  • Academic Reading or General Training Writing
  • Rated according to content and response to the prompt, coherence and cohesion, vocabulary, and grammar.

Academic Writing

Task 1
  • At least 150 words
  • Describe and summarize information from graphs and charts
  • Explain a process, event or data
  • Describe how something works
  • 20 minutes
Task 2
  • At least 250 words
  • Respond to an argument or problem
  • Undergraduate level
  • 40 minutes

Skills similar to IEP Writing Classes

  • Organize and compare data
  • Describe stages of a process
  • Describe an event
  • Support claims with examples and 
  • Analyze arguments
  • Express needs, wants, likes, and dislikes
  • Present a solution to a problem
  • Write for a specific audience
  • Demonstrate awareness of tone of information
  • Compare and contrast information and opinions

Speaking

  • 11-14 minutes long
  • Face-to face interview
  • Recorded
  • 3 parts
  • Rated according to fluency and coherance, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation

Part 1:Introduction and Interview

  • 3-4 minutes
  • General Questions on general topics

Part 2:Individual Long Turn

  • 3-4 minutes
  • Students get a card with a topic to talk about
  • 1 minute to prepare
  • 1-2 minutes speaking
  • 1 minute of answering questions

Part 3:Two-way Discussion

  • 4-5 minutes
  • Examiner asks questions related to the long-turn topic

Skills Similar to those in IEP Listening and Speaking Classes

  • Share your ideas and opinion, and provide logical support
  • Summarize, analyze, and discuss information from different sources
  • Answer questions and paraphrase what you heard
  • Speak at length on a single topic
  • Work on pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar in speaking

 

In order to register to take the IELTS, you must go to the official site at http://www.ielts.org/

General Tips:

Preparation

  • Your IEP courses teach skills used on the IELTS –take advantage of this and study hard!
  • Studying takes time
  • Start early and plan your studying.
  • Find out what kind of scores your university wants for admission.
  • Know your test! (see handout)
  • Check the IELTS website (http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information.aspx) for free practice materials.
  • Take as many practice tests as possible.
  • Don’t hate the test – this is an opportunity to use what you’ve learned!

During and After the Test

  • Think positive – if you feel good about yourself, your score will improve.
  • Take the questions 1 at a time.
  • Remember to answer all the questions!
  • If a question is REALLY hard, skip it and come back to it later.
  • If you really can’t figure out the answer, guess.
  • Celebrate!

 

 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Applying to Colleges and Universities: Undergraduate and Graduate


Undergraduate
Graduate
Research:
Do LOTS of research – look online, talk with people (other students, advisors, faculty members, etc.)
·  Degrees you are interested in
·  Other factors:
o  Cost
o  Location
o  Size
o  Reputation
o  Application deadline
Focus/Central Questions:
Does the faculty and school do the research you are interested in?
*Contact and meet with professors, faculty members, advisors in the school you’re interested in to get more information about admissions to their school
Tests:
Register for tests early!
Scores take time to be sent
- it is okay to take a test more than once
- address in your essay if you have a weak score
- TOEFL/IELTS
- SAT/ACT?? (depends on the school!)
- TOEFL/IELTS
- GRE/GMAT
*all graduate school applicants MUST take the TOEFL test!!!! The IELP is an extension to that test. If you have questions about this, contact Elisabeth
Essay(s):
- personal – shows school who you are as person
- be creative and engaging; make it interesting
- read the directions & make sure to respond to the prompt
- use proper grammar and spelling: this is NOT texting
- count words – be close to  the recommended length!
- get feedback from others: edit, edit, edit!
- biggest question: why do you want to be here?
Personal Statement:
- broader, more general
- about life experience or life lessons you have learned
- describe yourself, your goals
- usually around 500 words
*May require additional or other essay topics – check the school’s application requirements!
Statement of Purpose:
-   very specific, detailed – give examples
-   talk about you previous research or knowledge in your field
o what led you to be interested in these topics
o experiences you have had
o long-term goals
-   usually around 1.5 pages
*May require additional or other essay topics – check the school’s application requirements!
Transcripts:
- must be Official (= sealed in an envelope) and translated
- includes classes taken, grade earned, number of credits, and cumulative GPA
required
required
Letters of Recommendation:
- choose teachers, past employers, past professors, etc. who know you well
- ask the person directly: face-to-face or by email
- ask AT LEAST 2 weeks in advance
- include:
        - what needs to be included in letter (check school’s website for requirements), what is important to share
        - clarify: confidential or not?
        - short paragraph about why you want to study this subject or why you want to study at this institution
        - resume & statement of purpose
May or may not be required – check the school’s application requirements for information
Usually required – check the school’s application requirements for information
Resume:
- includes all work and study experience since high school
- fit on 1 page
- make easy to read
- put in chronological order
May or may not be required – check the school’s application requirements for information
Usually required – check the school’s application requirements for information
Tips on Becoming a Stronger Applicant
- Get involved!
     - volunteer
     - join a club
     - take on a leadership position
- Show dedication to something (ex: a passion, an activity, a sport, a cause, etc.)
-  Have research experience
-  Have articles published
-  Keep a list of conferences attended and presentations given
- Lecturing/teaching experience
- Experience in the field you are studying (work or volunteer)

What are Schools Looking for?
o Academics
o Career
o Communication Skills
o Fit: Does this person understand this program? Does this person know what they are getting into?

Helpful Resources:
·         Odegaard Writing & Research Center – help with application essays, resume, personal statements (free!)

·         Planning, test preparation, useful tips, and a lot more about college/graduate school:

·         Test Registration and Preparation
o   IELTS: http://www.ielts.org/
o   UW Women’s Center, GRE preparation courses: http://depts.washington.edu/womenctr/programs/lifelong-learning/prepare-for-the-new-version-of-the-gre/

·         Statement of Purpose (for Graduate School Application Essay) – Resources, tips, and sample essays
o   engineering.missouri.edu/civil/files/GradAppliStatement-Ex1.pdf
o   ls.berkeley.edu/files/statement_of_purpose.pdf

·         Personal Statement (Undergraduate Application Essay)

If you need guidance or advice, make an appointment with Elisabeth, the academic adviser.  She will be happy to help!