IELTS Exam Overview


  • The IELTS exam is scored according to a 9-Band scale. You will get a score for each section. The average of these 4 marks is your Overall Band Score.
  • The total test time is 2 hours 45 minutes. The first three modules - Listening, Reading and Writing - must be completed in one day. The Speaking module may be taken, at the test centre's discretion, in the period seven days before or after the other modules.

IELTS Exam Composition

Listening: Academic and General Training
4 sections (30 minutes + 10 minutes transfer time)
Reading: Academic Reading: General Training
3 texts (60 minutes) 3 sections (60 minutes)
Writing: Academic Writing: General Training
2 tasks
(Task 1 = 20 minutes/Task 2 = 40 minutes)
2 tasks
(Task 1 = 20 minutes/Task 2 = 40 minutes)
Speaking: Academic and General Training
3 sections (11-14 minutes)

IELTS PART 1: Listening


The Listening module is the first part of the exam. It takes approximately 30 minutes and consists of 4 sections. There are approximately 10 questions in each section. You are given time to read the questions before you listen. You listen only ONCE; while you listen, you can note your answers on the question paper. You have some extra time at the end to transfer your answers onto an exam answer sheet. A variety of tasks are used, chosen from the following types: multiple-choice; short-answer questions; sentence completion; notes/summary/diagram/flow-chart/table completion; labelling a diagram which has numbered parts; classification; and matching.

Section Type of listening texts
1 Two speakers have a discussion in a social situation, e.g. talking about travel arrangements or renting a house.
2 One speaker talks about a non-academic topic, e.g. the benefits of exercise.
3 As many as four speakers have a discussion in an educational or training situation, e.g. a group of students discussing plans for giving a presentation.
4 This is the longest section. One speaker gives a talk or mini lecture about a topic of general academic interest.

IELTS PART 2: Reading


The Reading module is the second part of the exam. It lasts 60 minutes and consists of 40 questions. You have to read 3 texts (about 2000-2500 words in total). You should write your answers directly onto the exam answer paper as you do NOT have extra time at the end to transfer your answers. A variety of tasks are used, chosen from the following types: multiple-choice; short-answer questions; sentence completion; notes/summary/diagram/flow-chart/table completion; choosing from a 'heading bank' for identified paragraphs/sections of text; identification of writer's views/claims - yes, no or not given; identification of information in the text - yes, no or not given/true, false or not given; classification; and matching lists/phrases.

Academic Reading Module

Section Number and type of reading texts
1 There is one passage in each section. Texts come from books, magazines, newspapers and journals, and are non-specialist; at least one passage contains a detailed argument.
2
3

General Training Reading Module

Section Number of texts Type of texts
1
Social
Survival
two or more texts Usually short but containing a lot of information. Based around everyday survival English, e.g. public information leaflets.
2
Training
Survival
two texts Usually containing information about a university or college, e.g. services or facilities provided.
3
General
Reading
one longer text General reading comprehension on any subject.

IELTS PART 3: Writing


The Writing module is the third part of the exam. It lasts 60 minutes and consists of 2 tasks. Task 2 carries more marks than Task 1.

Academic Writing

Task Word count Advised time limit Task description
1 150 words minimum 20 mins Describing visual information, often presented as a bar chart, table or line graph.
2 250 words minimum 40 mins Writing a discursive (discussion) essay or a defence of an opinion, relating to a topic of general interest.

General Training Writing

Task Word count Advised time limit Task description
1 150 words minimum 20 mins Responding to a situation with a letter, e.g. asking for information, or explaining or complaining about a problem.
2 250 words minimum 40 mins Writing a discursive (discussion) essay, or a defence of an opinion, relating to a topic of general interest.

IELTS PART 4: Speaking


The Speaking module is the final part of the exam. It does not need to be taken on the same day as the other modules. It takes the form of a three-part oral interview, which takes between 11 and 14 minutes.

Task Time Task description
1
Introduction and interview
4-5 mins Give your name and talk about things which are personal to you, for example, your country and hometown, your family, your studies or work, what you like doing in your free time and what you might do in the future.
2
Individual long turn
3-4 mins The examiner will give you a card that asks you to talk about a person, place, event or object. You will have 1 minute to prepare to speak, and then you will talk for 1-2 minutes, during which the examiner will not speak. The examiner will then ask one or two rounding-off questions.
3
Two-way discussion
4-5 mins You will talk with the examiner about issues related to the topic on the card. However, the discussion will he on less personal topics. For example, in Part 2 you may talk about a teacher you had at school, but in Part 3 you might talk about education in your country.