IELTS Test Format

The IELTS test format is four modules in which you are tested on your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. 

You need to decide on whether to take the Academic or General Training Test versions.

Based on your results, you are then given a band score between 0-9.

Find more detail about which version to take and the format of each part of the test:

  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing 

  • Academic or General Training?


    The IELTS test format varies according to why you are taking the test. There are two test versions available, Academic or General Training.

    They use the same band scales and both versions assess the four language skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. 

    Academic is for people applying for higher education i.e. university, or professional registration.

    General Training is for people migrating to the UK, Australia, or Canada, or applying for training programmes, work experience, or secondary education in an English-speaking environment. 


    The Speaking Module


    The IELTS speaking test is the same for both academic and general training candidates. 

    You are assessed by an IELTS examiner in a one-to-one interview which lasts 11-14 minutes. It is divided into three parts. 

    IELTS Speaking Test Format

    Part One:

    You are asked some questions about either your home, hometown, study or work, and then questions around two other topics randomly chosen by the examiner. These could be about things such as holidays, the weather, visiting museums, reading, fashion, travelling etc.

    Part Two:

    You have to speak for two minutes on a topic the examiner gives you. For example, you could talk on a teacher you liked, a dinner party you attended, or a favourite place to visit. You are given a pencil and paper and given one minute to prepare your talk.

    Part Three:

    You have a discussion with the examiner around more complex topics related to your part two talk. So for example if you spoke about a teacher you liked in part two, part three could be questions about the educational system in your country and more generally.

    View IELTS Speaking Sample Tests


    Listening Module


    Again the test is the same for all candidates. 

    The listening module lasts 40 minutes - 30 minutes listening and 10 minutes to add your answers to an answer sheet. There are 4 sections, each one getting more difficult. 

    IELTS Listening Test Format

    Section One: 

    A conversation between two people in a social situation. 

    Section Two: 

    A speech in a formal situation, such as at work or college. 

    Section Three:

    A conversation between two or three people, perhaps a discussion between a tutor and two students. 

    Section Four:

    A lecture or talk by one person.


    View IELTS Listening Tests


    Reading Module


    The IELTS test format varies between Academic and General Training for the Reading Test. 

    IELTS Reading Test Format

    Academic

    • The test lasts one hour
    • There are 40 questions and three readings. 
    • They are the same difficulty, and each reading is around 800 words.
    • There is no time to add answers at the end so it has to be done during the test.
    • The readings are academic style texts taken from various publications.

    General Training

    • The test lasts one hour 
    • There are 40 questions and three sections
    • Section one and two are a mix of short factual texts, such as adverts or texts on work related issues.
    • Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest.
    • Readings are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country rather than being academic. 
    • There is no time to add answers at the end so it has to be done during the test.
    • Texts are taken from magazines and newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and books. 

    View IELTS Academic Reading Tests

    View IELTS General Training Reading Tests


    Writing Module


    The IELTS test format also varies between Academic and General Training for the Writing Test. 

    IELTS Writing Test Format

    Academic

    There is a Task 1 and a Task 2. The test time is 60 minutes.It is recommended in the test to spend 20 minutes on task 1, as it is worth less marks, and 40 minutes on task 2.

    • Task 1 is describing some kind of graph, diagram, process or map.
    • Task 2 is writing an academic essay on a topic of general interest. 

    General Training

    Again there is a task 1 and a task 2, with a total test time of 60 minutes, and a recommendation to spend 20 minutes on task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2. 

    • Task 1 is writing a letter to someone, either informal, such as a friend, or more formal, such as a company manager,  on a given topic.
    • Task 2 is writing an academic essay on a topic of general interest. 

    View Sample IELTS Writing Tests


    IELTS Band Scores


    For each module you are given a band score, so you end up with a separate band score for speaking, listening, reading, and writing. 

    These are then averaged to give you an overall band score as well. 

    The score you need will depend on the requirements of your university or employer etc. 

    Learn more about IELTS Scores.



     

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