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What is IELTS?

IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of people who want to study or work where English is the language of communication. IELTS is recognised and accepted by over 10,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, employers, professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies. 

Test format

There are two modules to choose from – Academic and General Training. 

IELTS Academic
IELTS Academic is for test takers wishing to study at
undergraduate or postgraduate levels, and for those
seeking professional registration.

IELTS General Training
IELTS General Training is for test takers 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.

UKVI IELTS Life Skills
IELTS Life Skills is for people who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) Levels A1, A2 or B1.

THE COMPONENTS IN IELTS

The IELTS test consists of four sections: speaking, listening, reading and writing. You will always take the listening, reading and writing parts all on the same day one after the other, with no breaks between them. Whiles speaking test is always scheduled on the same day.

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 Parts
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 monologue 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 monologue on an academic subject
(e.g. a university lecture).
Each section is heard once only.
A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used.

Skills assessed
A wide range of listening skills are assessed, including:
• understanding of main ideas
• understanding of specific factual information
• recognising opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
• 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.

Timing
60 minutes
Tasks
There are 2 tasks. You are required to write at least
150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.
Test Parts
There are 2 parts.
Academic Writing
In Task 1, you are presented with a graph, table, chart or
diagram and are asked to describe, summarise or explain
the information in your own words. You 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, you 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 test takers entering undergraduate
or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.
Responses to Task 1 and Task 2 should be written
in an academic, semi-formal/neutral style.

General Training Writing
In Task 1, you are presented with a situation and are asked to
write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation.
The letter may be personal or semi-formal/neutral in style.
In Task 2, you 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, you are assessed on your ability to
write a response which is appropriate in terms of:
• content
• the organisation of ideas
• the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar.

Academic Writing
In Task 1, depending on the task type, you are assessed on your
ability to organise, 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, you are assessed on
your 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, you are assessed on your
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, you are assessed on your 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
You are assessed on your performance on each task
by certificated IELTS examiners according to the IELTS
Writing test assessment criteria (Task Achievement/Response,
Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, Grammatical
Range and Accuracy). The public version of the assessment
criteria can be found at ielts.org/criteria.
Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.
Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Timing
60 minutes (no extra transfer time).
Questions
There are 40 questions. A variety of question types are
used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying
information (True/False/Not Given), identifying a 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, flow-chart completion,
diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

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, test takers 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 workrelated 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 are assessed, including:
• reading for gist
• reading for main ideas
• reading for detail
• understanding inferences and implied meaning
• recognising writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
• 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. 

Timing
11-14 minutes
Test Parts
There are 3 parts.
Part 1 Introduction and interview (4-5 minutes)
The examiner introduces him/herself and asks you to introduce
yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner asks you
general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work,
studies and interests.
Part 2 Individual long turn (3-4 minutes)
The examiner gives you a task card which asks you to talk about
a particular topic and which includes points you can cover in your
talk. You are given 1 minute to prepare your talk, and are given
a pencil and paper to make notes. You talk for 1-2 minutes on
the topic. The examiner may then ask you 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 you an opportunity
to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.
Skills assessed
A wide range of speaking skills are 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 organising ideas coherently
• the ability to express and justify opinions and to analyse,
discuss and speculate about issues.
Marking
You are assessed on your performance throughout the
test by certificated IELTS examiners according to the IELTS
Speaking test assessment criteria (Fluency and Coherence,
Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy,
Pronunciation). The public version of the assessment criteria
can be found at ielts.org/criteria.
Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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