International students wanting to study in an English-speaking country, will probably already realise that Australia consistently ranks in the top five places for academic study abroad at university level.

And, if you're already keen to do your tertiary education and training while based in Australia, you also probably know that Sydney is one of the most sought-after destinations to complete university education — not only because of the availability of university and higher education institutions based in Sydney but for the lifestyle for students.

If you're from the US, New Zealand, UK or Canada, enrolling in a university course in Sydney, Australia is relatively easy, but what if you're not a native speaker of English?

What general and academic requirements do you need to meet to enrol in a university or other training institution in Australia, specifically in Sydney?

What IELTS score do I need to get into university in Australia?
Many students like the idea of being based in Sydney | Source: Pixabay - reinhardcwieland

This is what we will explore in this article, with a focus on academic and general opportunities when based in Sydney and how to maximise your preparation.

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Who Needs to Take the International English Language Testing System Exam?

If students are keen to be based in Australia for a purpose other than travel or a short business trip, the Immigration Department in Australia requires you to prove your proficiency with English in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

One of the English proficiency test options is the International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS).

Who needs to sit the IELTS test?

People who want to migrate to Australia, or study or gain employment in Sydney or elsewhere for a longer period than a short 'working holiday' are required to take an English language test, such as IELTS, and achieve a score of Band 6 or higher. You can find more details regarding each level online on the IELTS test website.

It is recommended that students who are intending to study for an undergraduate or postgraduate university degree or enrol in a TAFE course, check their preferred academic institution to find out what score is required. This may vary depending on the academic rigour associated with different courses. These details can also be found online on the university or TAFE website.

For example, if students wish to enrol at the University of Sydney, their overall score for all four tests — speaking, listening, reading and writing — must be at least 6.5 with each individual test receiving a score of 6 or above. Some courses may require a higher score; for example, economics and law courses at the University of Sydney have a minimum requirement of 7.5 overall and Band 7 in each of the skills.

If you're committed to being based in Australia for your academic study, you will want to complete the best preparation you can to help achieve the band and score you need. This means you need to allocate time for this preparation.

There are a number of options that can help with your IELTS exam preparation.

  • Download the free materials and sample questions from the IELTS website.
  • Purchase the full set of IELTS practice test materials.
  • Enrol in IELTS classes or courses.
  • Engage a tutor to help guide your preparation for the IELTS test.

Let's look at the finer details of these options, focusing on those relevant to students who wish to take the exam for IELTS in Sydney.

Tips to Make the Most of Your IELTS Practice

There are a few things you can do to help you thoroughly prepare for each IELTS test.

Do your research

Simply Googling 'IELTS Sydney' will bring up a range of online sites with information about:

  • the IELTS exam details, including test locations, availability and dates
  • IELTS preparation tips
  • organisations and individuals offering IELTS lessons, courses and materials.

Sift through these online offerings carefully and double-check with the official IELTS website to ensure the courses are legitimate. You can spend a lot of money on a course promising IELTS test practice, only to discover it doesn't provide adequate preparation.

What language skills do I need for IELTS?
Work on training all four language skills as part of your general IELTS test practice | Source: Pixabay - jarmoluk

Leave no 'stone' unturned

Whether you decide to prepare independently, use online preparation materials, attend lessons or join training sessions with a private tutor, it is up to you to make sure you are devoting adequate practice and preparation time to all skills. Perhaps you feel like your reading and writing level is already sufficient — do the practice anyway. Maybe you feel self-conscious during speaking and listening practice — focus on these skills even more.

Remember, you can't afford to ignore one area because you don't like it or because it's already your strength — you require a minimum band level in ALL skills.

Do the practice tests

The availability of practice tests is for a reason — they are useful. Not only will you get insights into the types of test questions in each test but you will also gain a general understanding of the format of the tests and better prepare your time management strategies and IELTS exam technique.

If you have not enrolled in IELTS classes or training sessions with a tutor, you should purchase the official practice materials. Once you download these, you will have access to past test questions and assessors' answers and comments.

Consider engaging a tutor

Even if you only do two or three sessions with an IELTS tutor, we cannot over-emphasise how valuable this is. An IELTS tutor can help you in multiple ways, including:

  • help with time management strategies and exam techniques
  • tips on the finer details regarding each of the tests
  • focusing on academic skills where your level is not as high.

Your tutor will also have access to the practice materials, tests and other resources to help you prepare.

Make sure you check out the Superprof online platform where there are many tutors who specialise in test preparation for IELTS and other English proficiency exams.

What if I'm not in Sydney, but still want to study at university there?

It doesn't really matter whether or not you are living in Sydney when you are preparing for IELTS — you can be over the other side of Australia from Sydney in Perth, up north in Brisbane or south-west in Adelaide. That's the beauty of modern-day technology and online training.

Where to Find IELTS Classes in Sydney

Of course, if you live in NSW, in Sydney, you may decide you'd benefit from enrolling in one of the many classes or English courses on offer for IELTS candidates. You may have to search around a bit to find sessions that meet your needs in terms of your academic goals,  your language level and your time availability but there are hundreds of courses to choose from. Here are a few you may find useful based in Sydney, NSW.

IPC Sydney

The IELTS Preparation Centre has been in business for over 20 years and has recently moved to a fully online format with the centre providing classes and private sessions over Zoom. The centre is different from many classes or courses in that the teachers, who are all native speakers of English, first identify your gaps, whether in specific skills or strategies and then tailor lessons to meet the needs of their students.

The College (based at Western Sydney University)

The IELTS Preparation Course offered by The College at Western Sydney Uni claims to help students pass the test on their first attempt. The lessons cover all skills — speaking, listening, reading and writing — and allow students to develop the strategies and confidence they need in a small-class environment.

Greenwich English College

Greenwich English College has three campuses in Sydney — Sydney Mary Street, Sydney Pitt Street and North Sydney. There are two IELTS preparation courses offered at Greenwich — foundation and advanced. Both courses focus on the core skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. The Foundation course is designed for learners at an intermediate level who are aiming for a score of Band 6 or higher, whereas the Advanced course is for students already at an upper-intermediate level and who wish to attain at least Band 7.

Where can I find IELTS classes in Sydney?
Students can enrol in IELTS classes in Sydney or work online with a private tutor from anywhere in Australia| Source: Pixabay - islandwords

Navitas English

With a training centre in Hyde Park in Sydney, this preparation course is flexible in terms of how frequently you attend and for how long, with multiple entry points and course lengths anywhere from 1 to 25 weeks. As with all other classes, Navitas sessions cover all four skill areas as well as equipping their students with study skills and examination techniques.

I'm ready — now what?

Once you feel you are adequately prepared for your IELTS Sydney test, you should register and book in for your exam. Testing is flexible with the options of taking the tests online or at a registered testing centre. You can do your assessments with most organisations that offer classes in Sydney, including Navitas and Western Sydney University.

Do I have to sit for IELTS in Sydney?

No. You can do your test in MelbourneCanberra or any other capital city or larger metropolitan area in NSW or Australia as long as the dates suit your availability.

What happens on IELTS test day?

On the day of your assessment, try to relax, follow all the instructions and ask staff if you have any questions — they can provide all the answers you need. It's important to keep an eye on the time. The listening, reading and writing sections take a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes with no breaks. The speaking section takes around 10 minutes to complete.

Generally speaking, you receive your results 3 to 5 days after an online assessment and around 13 days after a paper assessment. Results are available to view for 28 days but you also receive hard copies of these.

Good luck!

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Kellie

Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.