Test Format

More than 9000 institutions and organizations worldwide accept IELTS results. These include universities, colleges, professional registration bodies, employers, and governments. You have a choice of two versions of the IELTS exam, the IELTS Academic exam and IELTS General Training exam.

Familiarizing yourself with the IELTS testing format

The following details the format for the four different sections of the test:

Note: The Reading and Writing Sections of the Academic test are different to the General Training test.

LISTENING (30 minutes)
Candidates 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.

– Part 1: A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context, e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency.
– Part 2: A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
– Part 3: 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.
– Part 4: A monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

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 main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

Reading – Academic Version
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 recognizably appropriate for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration.

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

WRITING (60 minutes)

Academic Version
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: Candidates will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarize or explain the information in their own words.
– Task 2: Candidates 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 Version
The Writing component of the General Training version includes two tasks which are based on topics of general interest.

– Task 1: Candidates will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
– Task 2: Candidates 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 the use of spoken English, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is recorded.

– Part 1: Candidates will be asked to answer general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as their home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.
– Part 2: Candidates will be given a minute to prepare their thoughts on an assigned topic, before being invited to speak for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.
– Part 3: Candidates will be asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions will provide 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 candidates to rehearse set responses beforehand.