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Understand the IELTS test format

Understand the IELTS test format

 Take the time to understand the IELTS test format. There are two versions of the test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both are graded in exactly the same way.

You will take the first three parts of the test all on one day in the following order: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. There are no breaks between the first three tests.

You will take the Speaking test either on the same day, or 7 days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.

A range of native-speaker accents (North American, Australian, New Zealand and British) is used in the Listening test, and all standard varieties of English are accepted in responses in all parts of the test.

Understand The Listening Test

Understand The Listening Test

You will be hear different number of recodings and respond to related questions in your IELTS Listening test.

The content of the Listening test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Listening test is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills, including how well you

  • understand main ideas and specific factual information
  • recognise the opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
  • follow the development of an argument

Timing

The IELTS Listening test takes approximately 30 minutes, and you are allowed an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers from your question booklet to your answer sheet.

IELTS Listening consists of four sections:

Section 1

You listen to a conversation between two people set in an everyday social situation, e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency, and answer questions on your comprehension.

Section 2

You listen to a monologue set in an everyday social situation, e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference.

Section 3

You listen to a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project.

Section 4

You listen to a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Questions

There are 40 questions.

A variety of question types is used, and you may be asked to

  • answer multiple choice questions
  • label a plan, map or diagram
  • fill in a form
  • complete a table
  • complete a flow-chart
  • give short answers

Marking

Each correct answer receives one mark.

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Find out more about how you can to check out your ielts listening score

Undersatnd The Reading Test

Undersatnd The Reading Test

You will need to read quickly and efficiently, and manage your time

You will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions in your IELTS Reading test.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Reading test is designed to assess a wide range of reading skills, including how well you

  • read for the general sense of a passage
  • read for the main ideas
  • read for detail
  • understand inferences and implied meaning
  • recognise a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • follow the development of an argument

Timing

The IELTS Reading test takes 60 minutes.

You are not allowed any extra time to transfer your answers, so write them directly on to your answer sheet.

You will need to manage your time during the test because you will not be told when to start or finish each section.

IELTS Academic Reading test

There are three sections to the IELTS Academic Reading test, and each contains one long text.

These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest.

They range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical.

Each text might be accompanied by diagrams, graphs or illustrations, and you will be expected to show that you understand these too.

IELTS General Training Reading test

There are three sections to the IELTS General Training Reading test.

The texts used in each section are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be made up of 6 - 8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements. The topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country.

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues, e.g. applying for a job, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training.

Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest.

Questions

There are 40 questions.

A variety of question types is used, and you may be asked to

  • fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table
  • match headings to written text to diagrams or charts
  • fill in a form
  • complete sentences
  • give short answers to open questions
  • answer multiple choice questions

Marking

Each correct answer receives one mark.

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Find out more about how you can to check out your ielts Reading score

Read Tips for Reading Test.

Understand The Writing Test

Understand The Writing Test

Write clearly, organise your ideas and use a varied vocabulary.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Writing test is designed to assess a wide range of writing skills, including how well you

  • write a response appropriately
  • organise ideas
  • use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately

Timing

The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2.

You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

Two Tasks

There are two tasks in the IELTS Writing test. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.

IELTS Academic Writing test

Write in a formal style in the IELTS Academic Writing test.

In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should find the issues interesting and easy to understand.

IELTS General Training Writing test

The topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest.

In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.

Marking

Your Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner.

Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Find out more about how you can to check out your ielts Reading score

Read Tips for Writing Test.

Understand The Speaking Test

Understand The Speaking Test

The Speaking test is as close to a real-life situation as an exam can get.

The content of the IELTS Speaking test is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills.

The examiner will want to see how well you can

  • communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions
  • organise ideas
  • use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately
  • speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language
  • organise your ideas coherently
  • express and justify your opinions
  • analyse, discuss and speculate about issues

Make sure that you relax and talk fluently. You will need to speak naturally.

Timing

The IELTS Speaking test takes 11-14 minutes.

Three Parts

Part 1 : Introduction and interview
Duration : 4-5 minutes
Information : The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.

Part 2 : Individual long turn
Duration : 3-4 minutes
Information : The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking. The examiner will then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 : Two-way discussion
Duration : 4-5 minutes
Information : The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Marking

You will be assessed on your performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners.

You will be marked on the four criteria of the IELTS Speaking Test Band Descriptors:

  • fluency and coherence
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy
  • pronunciation

Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Find out more about how you can to check out your ielts Reading score

Read Tips for Speaking Test.