The NUS Education and Learning Blog

Month: February 2019

Choosing the appropriate IELTS and its application in today’s world


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests for pursuing higher studies and migrating to the United States, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. There are 3 types of IELTS tests, i.e. IELTS Academic test, IELTS General Training and IELTS Life Skills.

IELTS Academic test is a must for admission to institutions of higher learning with English as the medium of instruction. People who intend to join professional associations in medicine, law and engineering in an English-speaking country also need to pass the IELTS Academic exam.

IELTS General Training is a necessity for enrolling at a secondary school and migrating to an English-speaking country. The USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and UK accept IELTS General Training scores as criteria of language competency for issuing immigration and school-level study visas. Some English-speaking countries insist on IELTS General Training qualification for native English speakers as well.

IELTS Life Skills, which is also known as UK Visas and Immigration, is a pre-requisite to gain immigration and citizenship of United Kingdom. The Life Skills test only assesses the speaking and listening English skills, so as to determine the capacity to communicate in everyday English. IELTS Life Skills A1 paves the way to UK Visas and Immigration family, spouse or partner visa, while IELTS Life Skills B1 opens the doors to permanent residence and citizenship.

The duration of an IELTS test is 2 hours and 44 minutes. The test is divided into 30 minutes for the Listening section, 60 minutes for the Reading section, 60 minutes for the Writing section and 11-14 minutes for the Speaking section. The Speaking section usually takes place on a different day. Each section not only tests the pertinent language skills, but also a variety of life skills, and the assessment is done on a band of 1-10.

In the IELTS Listening test, an examinee has to read the instructions, listen to the listening material and write down the relevant answers all at the same time. In the IELTS Speaking test, the candidate must listen to the questions and respond immediately after the examiner stops speaking. The candidate can use filler phrases or rephrase the question so as to gain some extra thinking time to formulate a response and demonstrate linguistic fluency. In the IELTS Writing test, effective time management is of paramount importance for a good score. The candidate should spend the right amount of time on each task by reading the question carefully, writing the answer and doing the final check within a limited span of time. The IELTS Reading test also places immense importance on timing. The test taker should first skim the text to arrive at a general understanding, read the questions, scan the text for apt answers and then re-read the text carefully to confirm the answer.

To conclude, every IELTS aspirant should understand dynamics of the test, choose the appropriate test and work hard at it.

How to Pursue a Graduate Degree While on a Budget


Expenses in undergraduate add up and will continue to do so in undergraduate programs. You can take control of your budget effectively and make the most out of it with some key tips in mind. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to massive debt when it can be avoided with these tips:

Take Out the Smallest Amount of Loans if Possible

Only take out the loans you need. This might mean taking out loans for classes and school, but not living expenses like rent. If you can score a bartending job, that can help you pay for your expenses that aren’t school-involved. You will thank yourself for this later. Student loans in graduate school can pile up pretty quickly if you aren’t careful.

Establish Good Credit As Soon as You Can  

If you don’t already have a credit card, get one. You should definitely get a rewards credit card. This can save you a lot of money through cash back programs and other benefits. When using a credit card, make sure you are buying things you can pay off at the end of the month. This seems like a no-brainer, but you want to avoid credit card debt at all costs. Use your credit card to elevate your financial standpoint, not worsen it.

Save Money by Shopping Online and at Discount Stores

Buy your books and school supplies online at used books shops. There are good deals on Ebay and Amazon. A lot of people just want to get rid of their books and will make them pretty cheap on these sites. This is way better than paying full price for new books.

Buy your clothes second-hand if possible as well. You can also shop at inexpensive e-commerce sites. Try to not pay full price for anything while in graduate school. Not only can you save money on clothes by shopping cheaply, but there are discount grocery stores all over. Scope out the local grocery stores and find the ones with the lowest prices. Figure out which day of the week is the cheapest to shop during as well—this can save you a bunch of money.

Open a High Interest Savings Account 

 There are a ton of online banks out there that offer high interest savings accounts. Put any leftover money into these accounts to save up for when you have to pay off your loans. It might not feel like a lot of money, but it will be worth it in the long run. Any fraction of savings will help your financial standing.

Stick to Your Budget

Hold yourself accountable and stick to your budget. You don’t want to increase your stress of school by not having enough money. Decide what you can spend every month, and track your expenses.

Set a budget before you get busy with classes. This will be a skill you will use throughout graduate school and after. You can’t be too smart about money while in school—your future bank account will thank you.

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