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Talking numbers in IELTS

Published on July 15, 2019

Throughout all sections of the IELTS test, numbers occur in different forms. There are different strategies to use when dealing with numbers. Here is a breakdown of each section and the variety of numbers that may be included within them.

Listening

Numbers are a major part of the Listening section. Although most frequently seen in Section 1, numbers can appear in any of the 40 questions. Here, you may encounter numbers, ages, currency, measurements, dates, times, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

Numbers

Quantities that end in -teen and -ty are used often when it comes to numbers such as age, year, and just counting how many. Hearing the difference between, for example, 13 and 30, is a necessity as they have similar ending sounds.

13 – 30: thir teen - thir ty

14 – 40: four teen - for ty

15 – 50: fif teen - fif ty

16 – 60: six teen - six ty

17 – 70: seven teen - seven ty

18 – 80: eigh teen - eigh ty

19 – 90: nine teen - nine ty

Currency

Dollars ($) and pounds (£) are the two most commonly used types of currency on the IELTS test. You can choose to write the word ‘dollars’ or ‘pounds’ or you can put the currency in symbols. When listening to amounts, numbers can be said in different ways.

  • 4.50 = Four dollars fifty cents/ Four pound fifty

Measurements

Different measurements appear such as centimetres, kilometres, and kilograms. You are allowed to abbreviate the word when writing these measurements as numbers.

  • Sixty kilometres OR 60 kilometres OR 60 km OR 60 kms

All forms above are correct on the IELTS test. You are allowed to write the word form of a number; however, writing the number form or abbreviating is best as you won’t have a chance of making a spelling error.

Dates

Dates are flexible and can be written in a variety of ways. You can use the number or word form, as well as abbreviate days of the week and months of the year.

  • March 5th OR Mar 5th OR 5th of Mar OR 03/05 OR 5/3

Be careful with ordinal numbers. First is ‘st’, Second is ‘nd’, Third is ‘rd’, and fourth to tenth all use ‘th’. If you put, for example, 2th, you will be marked as incorrect.

Times

Times, although can be said differently, are generally written in the same way.

  • 6:45 = Six forty-five/ Quarter to seven

Telephone and Credit Card Numbers

There are a few things to remember with a sequence of numbers. Sometimes, 0 (zero), can be called ‘O’, like the letter. Also, the same number twice or three times in a row may be referred to as double or triple.

  • 2450 - 7762 - 3338 = Double seven/ Triple three

Reading

When it comes to numbers in the Reading section, there are not many strategies to follow except remember to carefully transfer your answers to the answer sheet, especially when there are multiple zeros.

Writing

You want to write your numbers in a variety of ways when it comes to Academic Writing Task 1 of the IELTS test. This can be as simple as writing the number as opposed to the word form or completely changing the number form.

  • 10,000 OR ten thousand
  • 25% OR twenty-five percent
  • 75% OR ¾

    Along with writing exact numbers, it is also beneficial to write approximations.

  • 66% OR sixty-six percent OR Just above 65% OR Under 70% OR Over half

You also have to clearly understand the axis of the graphs and learn how they are measured. Here, the numbers are in the millions.

  1. The number of Wuzzle Bars sold in Q3 was 40.
  2. The number of Wuzzle Bars sold in Q3 was 40 millions.
  3. The number of Wuzzle Bars sold in Q3 was 40 million.

The last option is the only one that is correct in these three sentences. Although the graph is written in 10s, it states that the numbers are in millions. Also, when referring to a general number, you can write ‘millions”, however, when it’s a specific number, you have to write ‘million’.

  • I have millions of dollars.
  • I have 20 million dollars.

Speaking

Try to keep everything casual when referring to numbers in the Speaking test. For example:

  • 2500 = two thousand five hundred (formal)/ twenty-five hundred (casual)
  • 2019 = two thousand nineteen (formal)/ twenty nineteen (casual)

Numbers can feel like a small detail but play an important role on the IELTS test. Make sure you deliver them correctly in order to obtain the best score possible.