Test format

The IELTS test assesses your ability in listening, reading, writing and speaking in less than three hours. There are two types of the IELTS test, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training (GT). For both the modules listening and speaking are same whereas subject matter of Reading and Writing components differs depending on the test you are taking.

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of all tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks. However, speaking can be completed a week before or after the other/main tests. This will be advised by your test centre. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.


There are four sections with ten questions each total of 40 questions The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard in the audio. The first two sections deal with situations set in everyday social contexts.

  • In Section 1, there is a conversation between two speakers mainly about travel arrangements,
  • and in Section 2, there is a monologue; a speech about local facilities. The final two sections deal with situations set in educational and training contexts.
  • In Section 3, there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor),
  • and in Section 4, there is a monologue on an academic subject. The recordings are heard only once. They include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian.

Types of Tasks:

Multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow- chart summary completion, sentence completion

Allocated time:

30 minutes approx. (plus 10 minutes transfer time) Candidates write their answers on the question paper as they listen and at the end of the test they are given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to an answer sheet.

One should be careful while writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised. 1 mark is carried to each questions.


There are three passages with a variety of questions using a number of task types: multiple choice, identifying information, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion and short-answer questions. The task types are basically the same for both the modules.

Generally, text for academic modules are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers, and have been written for a non-specialist audience. All the topics are of general interest. They deal with issues which are interesting, recognisably appropriate and accessible to the candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. The passages may be written in a variety of styles, for example narrative, descriptive or discursive/argumentative. At least one text contains detailed logical argument. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms a simple glossary is provided.

Whereas, contents for General Training (GT) varies from that of Academic. Section 1 may contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts, Section 2 comprises two texts similarly, in section 3, there is one long text. The first section, ‘Social Survival’, contains texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English with tasks mainly about retrieving and providing general factual information; notices, advertisements and timetables. The second section, ‘ Workplace survival’, focuses on the workplace context for instance job descriptions, contracts and staff development and training materials. The third section, ‘general reading’, involves reading more extended prose with a more complex structure. Here, the emphasis is on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts, in a general context relevant to the wide range of test takers involved, for example, newspapers, magazines and fictional and non-fictional book extracts.

The allocated time, number of questions are similar to that of Academic reading only the difference is in source of the content.

Candidates are required to transfer their answers to an answer sheet during the time allowed for the test. No extra time allowed for transfer. Need to be careful when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.


Each question is worth 1 mark.

Allocated Time:

60 minutes

Total questions:



The speaking test consists of an oral interview between the test takers’ and an examiner. All speaking tests are recorded. Speaking is marked on the following basis:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

Types of tasks:

There are three parts to the test and each part fulfills a specific function in terms of interaction pattern, task input and candidates output.

Allocated Time:

11-14 minutes


There are two writing tasks and both (Task 1 and Task 2) MUST be completed. Basically, in task 1, candidates are asked to describe some visual information (graph/table/chart/diagram) in their own words. One needs to write 150 words in about 20 minutes whereas in Task 2, they respond to a point of view or argument or problem where 250 words must be written in about 40 minutes.

Answers must be given on the answer sheet and must be written in full. Notes or bullet points are not acceptable as answers. Candidates may write on the question paper but this cannot be taken from the examination room and will not be seen by the examiner.

Candidates for General Training (GT) are asked to respond to a situation that can be by writing a letter requesting information or explaining a situation in task 1 whereas, candidates need to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem in task 2.

Each tasks are assessed independently. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1. Both the tasks are assessed based on task achievement/response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource and lastly grammatical range and accuracy.

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