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IELTS test format in detail

Only IELTS offers you tests suited to your study, work or migration needs.

IELTS tests four language skills and consists of four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

  • Listening, Reading and Writing must be completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. This lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes in total.
  • Speaking test may be offered on the same day as the other sections of the test, or up to a week before or one day after. It lasts 10-14 minutes.

How are the two tests different?

All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests.

IELTS Academic

IELTS General Training

Speaking
11-14 mins

Assesses your use of spoken English by face-to-face interview without disruptions or distractions.
Part 1 – the examiner asks you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests.
Part 2 – you are asked to talk for up to two minutes about a particular topic. You have one minute to prepare. Then the examiner asks one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 3 – you are asked questions about the topic in Part 2. These gives you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.
Important: Every speaking test is recorded. Your speaking test may be administered on the same day as the other sections of the test, or up to a week before or one day after. You will receive notification seven days in advance if your speaking test is on a different day to your main test day.

Speaking
11-14 mins

Assesses your use of spoken English by face-to-face interview without disruptions or distractions.
Part 1 – the examiner asks you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests.
Part 2 – you are asked to talk for up to two minutes about a particular topic. You have one minute to prepare. Then the examiner asks one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 3 – you are asked questions about the topic in Part 2. These gives you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.
Important: Every speaking test is recorded. Your speaking test may be administered on the same day as the other sections of the test, or up to a week before or one day after. You will receive notification seven days in advance if your speaking test is on a different day to your main test day.

Reading
60 mins

3 long texts taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and official documents. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills.

Reading
60 mins

You read 5-6 short texts taken from books, journals, newspapers, magazines, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are texts you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.
The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills.

Writing
60 mins

You write a table, chart or diagram (150 words) and a short essay (250 words).
Part 1 – you are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words.
Part 2 – you are 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.

Writing
60 mins

You write a letter (150 words) and a short essay (250 words).
Part 1 – you are presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation.
Part 2 – you are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.
Responses to both tasks must be in a semi-formal style.

Listening
30 mins (+ 10 minutes to transfer responses to the answer sheet)

You listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.
Part 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
Part 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
Part 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.
Part 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Listening
30 mins (+ 10 minutes to transfer responses to the answer sheet)

You listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.
Part 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
Part 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
Part 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.
Part 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Important: Before booking your test, make sure to check which test you need with the organisations you are applying to.