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What is the format of IELTS exam?

by IDP IELTS India 11 Jan, 2022

There are two modules to choose from and the test format varies accordingly-

IELTS Academic

It’s for candidates wishing to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and for those seeking professional registration.

IELTS General Training

It’s for candidates 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 such as vocational training programs.

For both these modules there are four sections. You are tested on all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking, unless you have an exemption due to a disability. Everyone takes the same listening and speaking tests, but there are different reading and writing tests for IELTS Academic and General Training.

Listening Test

{Duration: Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time); 40 questions}

You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by a variety 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. The test is divided into four following parts-

Section 1 is a casual social conversation between two people, e.g. a conversation between a restaurant manager and his customer

Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about arrangements for pick up facility for company employees

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 a project.

Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university presentation Note that each section is heard only once in the given time of 30 minutes plus an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet

Scoring Every correct answer gets awarded 1 mark. Scores received out of 40 gets converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores will be then reported in whole and half bands.

Listening practice test paper

Reading Test

{Duration: 60 minutes (no extra transfer time); 40 questions}

A variety of question types are used including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS Academic Reading

It includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. The texts are genuine and are taken from various sources like books, journals, magazines and newspapers. These have been selected for people from any background so that they are recognisably appropriate for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration.

IELTS General Training Reading

It includes three passages with certain tasks. It requires you to read extracts from sources like 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.

Scoring

Every correct answer gets awarded 1 mark. Scores received out of 40 gets converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores will be then reported in whole and half bands.

Writing Test

{Duration: 60 minutes; 2 tasks}

IELTS Academic Test

Topics are kept general in nature which makes them suitable for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Task 1 : This section provides a graph, table, chart or diagram and you will be asked to summarise, describe or explain the given data in at least 150 words. The question may ask to describe and explain the data, how something works, describe the stages of the process, or describe a situation, object or an event.

Task 2 : The question asks to write an essay for at least 250 words, responding to a point of view, argument or situational problem. *Both the tasks require the answers written in a formal style.

IELTS General Training Test

This also includes two tasks, which are based on topics of general interest.

Task 1 : The question presents a situation and asks you to write a letter requesting information or explaining the given situation. The letter may require a personal, formal or semi-formal style of writing depending on the question.

Task 2 : The question asks to write an essay of at least 250 words, responding to an argument, a point of view, or a situational problem. This essay can be written in a more personal style than in the Academic Writing Task 2 essay.

Scoring

You are assessed on your performance on each task by certified IELTS examiners. Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Speaking Test

{Duration: 11-14 minutes; 3 tasks}

IELTS Speaking test is a face-to-face interview, which will take about 11 to 14 minutes. The Speaking test is designed to assess your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

This section is divided into three tasks which are as following-

Task 1 : You will be asked to answer general questions about yourself. Questions would be related to your home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts up to 4-5 minutes.

Task 2 : You will be given a card containing a topic which you would be asked to talk about. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for at most two minutes. The examiner then asks you at most two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.

Task 3 : You will be asked further questions related to the topic in Part 2. These questions give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas. This part lasts between four to five minutes.

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

Scoring

You are assessed on your performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners who repost the score in whole and half bands.

IELTS Speaking Test Tips and Advice