Results in 5-7 days with computer-delivered IELTS

Home > Learn about IELTS > IELTS test format

IELTS test format

The IELTS test assesses your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking – in less than three hours.

Hero image

A test of all four language skills

There are 2 types of IELTS tests - Academic and General Training

The Listening and Speaking section of the IELTS test are the same for both test formats, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test format you take.


Listening

30 minutes

You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by a range of native speakers, and answer a series of 40 questions. These include questions that test your ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, ability to understand the purpose of an utterance and the ability to follow the development of ideas. A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used and each section is heard only once.

Recording 1

A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.

Recording 2

A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Recording 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.

Recording 4

A monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.


Speaking

11 - 14 minutes

The Speaking section assesses your use of spoken English, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete with an IELTS examiner. IELTS uses real people in quiet rooms to test speaking – unlike an algorithm, an IELTS examiner will be able to make you feel relaxed and confident. They’re also able to pick up on your native accent to ensure you get the best possible score. There are 3 parts to the IELTS Speaking section.

Part 1

The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

Part 2

You will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have 1 minute to prepare before speaking for up to 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.

Part 3

You will be asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.


Academic Reading

60 minutes

The Reading section 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 gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The Academic Reading test 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 appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.


General Training Reading

60 minutes

The Reading section 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 gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The General Training Reading test requires test takers to read extracts from 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.


Academic Writing

60 minutes

The IELTS Academic Writing section includes two tasks. Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Task 1

You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and 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.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.


General Training Writing

60 minutes

The IELTS General Training Writing section includes two tasks which are based on topics of general interest.

Task 1

You 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

You 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 compared to an Academic Writing task.