IELTS

Test Format

IELTS is available in two test formats Academic and General Training. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking modules but different Reading and Writing modules.

Academic Format

The Academic format is, broadly speaking, for those who want to study or train in an English-speaking university or Institutions of Higher and Further Education. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses is based on the results of the Academic test.

General Training

The General Training format focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. It is typically for those who are going to English-speaking countries to complete their secondary education, training programs, or to work. People migrating to Australia, Canada and New Zealand must sit the General Training test.

Please note, certain professions require an Academic test result for registration and migration purposes.

The Listening, Reading and Writing modules must be completed in one day. Depending on your test centre, the Speaking module may be offered on the same day or up to a week before or after the other modules.

Listening Module

Timing

Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes transfer time).

Questions

There are 40 questions

A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labeling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, short-answer questions.

Test Sections

There are 4 sections

  • Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency)
  • Section 2 is a one person speech set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference)
  • Section 3 is 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 is a one person speech on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture) Each section is heard once only A variety of voices and native-speaker accents is used

Skills Assessed

A wide range of listening skills is assessed, including understanding of main ideas and specific factual information; recognizing opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker; and following the development of an argument

Marking

Each correct answer receives 1 mark Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands

 

Reading Module

Timing

60 minutes (no extra transfer time).

Questions

There are 40 questions

A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flowchart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

Test Sections

There are 3 sections and the total text length is 2,150-2,750 words

  • Academic Reading
    • Each section contains one long text. Texts are authentic and 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. Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided
  • General Training Reading
    • Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). 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 jobs, 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 Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers

Skills Assessed

A wide range of reading skills is assessed, including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail; understanding inferences and implied meaning; recognizing a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose; and following the development of an argument.

Marking

Each correct answer receives 1 mark Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

  

Writing Module

Timing

60 minutes.

Test Tasks

There are 2 Tasks. Candidates are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.

  • Academic Writing
    • In Task 1, candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarize or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
    • In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem The issues raised are of general interest to, suitable for and easily understood by candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration Responses to Task 1 and Task 2 should be written in a formal style.
  • General Training Writing
    • In Task 1, candidates are presented with a situation and are asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
    • In Task 2, candidates are 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 Topics are of general interest.

Skills Assessed

In both tasks, candidates are assessed on their ability to write a response which is appropriate in terms of content, the organization of ideas, and the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar.

  • Academic Writing
    • In Task 1, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to organize, present and possibly compare data; to describe the stages of a process or procedure; to describe an object or event or sequence of events; to explain how something works.
    • In Task 2, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to present a solution to a problem; to present and justify an opinion; to compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.
  • General Training Writing
    • In Task 1, depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to engage in personal correspondence in order to: elicit and provide general factual information; express needs, wants, likes and dislikes; express opinions (views, complaints etc.).
    • In Task 2, candidates are assessed on their ability to provide general factual information; to outline a problem and present a solution; to present and possibly justify an opinion; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.

Marking

Candidates are assessed on their performance on each task by certificated IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS Writing Test Band Descriptors (task achievement or response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy). 

Speaking Module

Timing

11-14 minutes.

Test Parts

There are 3 parts. Candidates will participate in a face-to-face oral interview with an examiner. The Speaking test is recorded.

  • Part 1, The examiner introduces him or herself and asks the candidate to introduce him/herself and confirm his/her identity. The examiner asks the candidate general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests.
  • Part 2, Individual long turn (3-4 minutes), the examiner gives the candidate a task card which asks the candidate to talk about a particular topic and which includes points which the candidate can cover in their talk. The candidate is given 1 minute to prepare their talk, and is given a pencil and paper to make notes. The candidate talks for 1-2 minutes on the topic. The examiner then asks the candidate one or two questions on the same topic.
  • Part 3, Two-way discussion (4-5 minutes), the examiner asks further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions give the candidate an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Skills assessed

A wide range of speaking skills is assessed, including the ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences and situations by answering a range of questions; the ability to speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language and organizing ideas coherently; and the ability to express and justify opinions and to analyze, discuss and speculate about issues.

Candidates are assessed on their performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners according to the four criteria of the IELTS Speaking Test Band Descriptors (fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, pronunciation).