About The Exam

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ABOUT THE EXAM

IELTS is available in two test formats: Academic or General Training.

IELTS Academic is for test takers wishing to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and for those

seeking professional registration (such as nurses and doctors)

 

IELTS General Training is for test takers wishing to migrate to an English-speaking country (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK), and for those wishing to train or study at below degree level.

 

Both exams have four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The distinction between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training lies in the subject matter of the Reading and Writing components.

Listening, Reading and Writing must be completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. The order in which these tests are taken may vary.

Your Speaking test is usually scheduled on the afternoon of the test day; however, it can be scheduled within seven days before or after that. You will be contacted by your local IELTS test centre to inform you of the date and location of your speaking test.
More information is available in the Information for Candidates booklet. (in separate file)

Listening (30 minutes)

You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by a range of native speakers, and write their answers to a series of questions. These include questions which test the ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, ability to understand the purpose of what is said and ability to follow the development of ideas. A variety of voices and native-speaker accents is used and you will hear each section only once.

*The Listening component is the same for both Academic and General Training versions.

Section 1
A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context, e.g. a conversation in a train station.
Section 2
A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Section 3
A conversation between a maximum of four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

Section 4
A monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Listening sample test questions

Reading (60 minutes)

The Reading component consists of 40 questions. A variety of question types is used in order to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

Reading – Academic

The Academic version includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. The texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. These have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are recognisably appropriate for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or those seeking professional registration.

Reading – General Training

The General Training version requires you to read extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English speaking environment.

Writing (60 minutes)

Writing – Academic

The Writing component of the Academic version includes two tasks. Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Task 1

You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to explain data, the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be written in a formal style.

General Training

The Writing component of the General Training version includes two tasks which are based on topics of general interest.

Task 1

You will be presented with a situation and will be asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay.

Speaking (11 to 14 minutes)

The Speaking component assesses your use of spoken English, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is recorded.

*The Speaking component is the same for both Academic and General Training versions.

Part 1

You will be asked to answer general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as your home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

Part 2

You will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner then asks you one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.

Part 3

You will be asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

The Speaking component is delivered in such a way that does not allow you to rehearse set responses beforehand.

HOW IS IELTS MARKED?

Click here to see the band descriptors (link to Speaking, Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2 band descriptors)

This table gives IELTS scores and their approximate CEFR equivalent.

WHAT YOUR IELTS SCORE MEANS

 

BandDescriptor
9Expert user
Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
8Very good user
Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies. Misunderstandings occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation as well.
7Good user
Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6Competent user
Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5Modest user
Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
4Limited user
Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
3Extremely limited user
Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
2Intermittent user
No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty in understanding spoken and written English.
1Non user
Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
0Did not attempt the test
No assessable information provided.