Overview of the IELTS


IELTS is the most widely accepted English language test that uses a one-on-one speaking test to assess your English communication skills. Do you want to study in the UK? IELTS can help you get there.

Take IELTS to prove you have the right language skills to study in the UK.

Over 600 UK universities and higher education institutions accept IELTS for proof of proficiency in the English Language. The IELTS test gives an accurate reflection of your ability to understand, read, write and speak English.

The listening test and speaking test are the same whether you are taking the IELTS academic test or the IELTS general module. The differences in the reading and writing tests.



Overview of the IELTS listening test:

The IELTS listening test is the same for both those taking the Academic and General Training papers.

It consists of 40 questions (10 per section) and lasts around 30 minutes. You will have 10 minutes, in the end, to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet.

The listening test consists of four separate sections, each more difficult than the last. In other words, part one is the easiest, and part four is the most difficult. Each part has a different theme or focus.

Section 1: You will hear a conversation between two people and it is almost always someone making an appointment or making a booking of some kind (e.g. making a hotel reservation or hiring a car). The questions are normally gap-fill questions in which you have to listen to the information and complete a form or sentence.

Section 2: You will hear someone talking by themselves about a non-academic subject (e.g. TV or radio presenter).

Section 3: Switches to an academic context and it will always be more than one person discussing something (e.g. an academic paper or assignment).

Section 4: This is normally an academic lecture and you will hear one person (normally the lecturer or professor) talking for an extended period of time.

You will be given a short amount of time (approximately 30 seconds) between each section and you should use this time to look at the questions coming up.

You will hear the recordings only once.


There are several different types of questions and each requires a different strategy so you should familiarize yourself with all of them. They include:

  • Form/note/table completion
  • Labeling a diagram or map
  • Sentence Completion
  • Short Answers
  • Selection
  • Multiple Choice
  • Matching


Overview of the IELTS reading test

The reading test is different for the academic test takers and the general training test takers.  Though there are some similarities, there are differences in the length of the texts and the complexity as well.

The total time for the test is 60 minutes, and there are 40 questions. This is a common factor for both the academic test and the general training test. Another similar factor for both the modules of the test is that there is no negative marking.

Now, let’s talk about the differences between the academic reading test and the general reading test. The academic test takers have to attempt questions that are taken from textbooks, journals, articles, etc. The question paper would contain a total of three passages that are lengthier.

However, this is not the case with the general training test. The reading passages are not very lengthy. You should be a total of 5 passages, out of which 4 are small or medium, and one is a more detailed one. The language is much simpler and is taken from advertisements, newspapers, etc.

IELTS questions types in the reading test

  • Note completion of sentence completion
  • Table completion
  • flow chart completion
  • summary completion
  • diagram label completion
  • short answer questions
  • identification of facts from the passage – true/false/ not given
  • identification of the writer’s views – yes/no / not given.
  • multiple-choice questions with multiple option selection
  • multiple-choice questions with single option selection
  • matching the list of headings
  • matching the paragraphs containing the information
  • matching the endings of sentences
  • matching the nouns with the information.


Overview of the IELTS writing test

In this test, there are two tasks that have to be completed for getting a good score. The first task for academic test takers is a report based on visual data, and for the general training test, writing task 1 is a letter. Task 1 is basically at least 150 words in length, and remember that there is no upper limit for this. You may write approximately   180 to 200 words to be on the safer side.

The different types of questions that you have to prepare for IELTS question type academic task 1 are,

  • Bar charts
  • Pie diagrams
  • Line graphs
  • Maps
  • Diagrams
  • Flowcharts or process diagrams
  • Tables
  • Combination of one or more reports
  • There are three types of letters that all the general training test takers have to practice
  • Formal letters
  • Informal letters
  • Semi-Formal letters

The second task in the writing test is an essay in both academic and general modules. The various types of essays are

  • Problems and solutions
  • Opinion based essays
  • Advantages and disadvantages
  • Double question
  • Positive development or negative development
  • Causes and effects

The essay has to be written in the form of paragraphs, and the minimum word count for the essay is 250 words.


Overview of the IELTS speaking test

This is the last part of the test, and it is common for both the academic test takers and the general training test takers. For the speaking test, you should prepare, speak fluently without hesitation, generate the relevant ideas that are required for the task or for the topic that is given, use less common vocabulary which is related to the topic, and see that the sentences are error-free and you are using a wide range of sentences while speaking.

The speaking test happens with a real examiner and you need not record your voice using a microphone. The topics are not very complicated. In fact, we use these words and we come across these topics in our day-to-day lives.

The approximate time to complete the test is 11 to 14 minutes. The test is divided into three parts.

  • Introduction and interview
  • Individual long turn
  • Two-way discussion.

If you are considering taking the computer-delivered IELTS exam, then all four parts of the test will be completed within a single day. In the case of the IELTS paper-based test, the speaking is done on a different date, while the listening reading writing tests are conducted together.


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