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IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

IELTS is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for study, scholarships, migration, and work where English is the language of communication. It is jointly managed by the British Council, and IDP since 1989.

IELTS Test Format

IELTS test is available in two formats; one is Academic Module and another is General Training Module.

1. Academic Module is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education for degree and diploma courses.

2. General Training Module is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.

IELTS Test Structure

Listening, Reading, and Writing are completed in one sitting. The Speaking test may be taken on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests. All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests, while the Reading and Writing tests differ depending on whether the test taker is taking the Academic or General Training versions of the test.

IELTS Test Format

1. Listening

The module comprises four sections, with ten questions in each section. It takes 40 minutes: 30 – for testing, plus 10 for transferring the answers to an answer sheet.

Sections 1 and 2 are about everyday, social situations:

  • Section 1 has a conversation between two speakers (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements).
  • Section 2 has one person speaking (for example, a speech about local facilities).

Sections 3 and 4 are about educational and training situations:

  • Section 3 is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, a discussion between two university students, perhaps guided by a tutor).
  • Section 4 has one person speaking about an academic subject.

Each section begins with a short introduction telling the test taker about the situation and the speakers. Then they have some time to look through the questions. The questions are in the same order as the information in the recording, so the answer to the first question will be before the answer to the second question, and so on. The first three sections have a break in the middle allowing test takers to look at the remaining questions. Each section is heard only once.

At the end of the test students are given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to an answer sheet.Test takers will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Listening Practice Tests

2. Reading

The Reading paper has three sections and texts totaling 2,150-2,750 words. There will be a variety of question types, such as multiple choice, short-answer questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s views, labeling diagrams, completing a summary using words taken from the text and matching information/headings/features in the text/sentence endings. Test takers should be careful when writing down their answers as they will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Texts in IELTS Academic Module:

  • Three reading texts, which come from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources written for non-specialist audiences. All the topics are of general interest to students at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Texts in IELTS General Training Module:

  • Section 1 contains two or three short texts or several shorter texts, which deal with everyday topics. For example, timetables or notices – things a person would need to understand when living in an English-speaking country.
  • Section 2 contains two texts, which deal with work. For example, job descriptions, contracts, training materials.
  • Section 3 contains one long text about a topic of general interest. The text is generally descriptive, longer and more complex than the texts in Sections 1 and 2. The text will be taken from a newspaper, magazine, book or online resource.

Reading Practice Tests

3. Writing

The Writing paper has two tasks which must both be completed. In task 1 test takers write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes. In task 2 test takers write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes. Test takers will be penalized if their answer is too short or does not relate to the topic. Answers should be written in full sentences (test takers must not use notes or bullet points).

IELTS Academic Module:

  • Writing Task 1: test takers describe a graph, table, bar chart, flow chart, pie chart, maps or diagram in their own words.
  • Writing Task 2: test takers discuss a point of view, argument or problem. Depending on the task, test takers may be required to present a solution to a problem, present and justify an opinion, compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications, and evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.

IELTS General Training Module:

  • Writing Task 1: test takers write a letter in response to a given everyday situation. For example, writing to an accommodation officer about problems with your accommodation, writing to a new employer about problems managing your time, writing to a local newspaper about a plan to develop a local airport.
  • Writing Task 2: test takers write an essay about a topic of general interests. For example, whether smoking should be banned in public places, whether children’s leisure activities should be educational, how environmental problems can be solved.

Writing Practice Tests

4. Speaking

The speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the test taker and an examiner. This interview will last for approximately 11-14 minutes.

The speaking test contains three sections:

  • Section 1: introduction and interview (4–5 minutes). Test takers may be asked about their home, family, work, studies, hobbies, interests, reasons for taking IELTS exam as well as other general topics such as clothing, free time, computers and the Internet.
  • Section 2: long turn (3–4 minutes). Test takers are given a task card about a particular topic. Test takers have one minute to prepare to talk about this topic. The task card states the points that should be included in the talk and one aspect of the topic which must be explained during the talk. Test takers are then expected to talk about the topic for 2 minutes, after which the examiner may ask one or two questions.
  • Section 3: discussions (4–5 minutes). The third section involves a discussion between the examiner and the test taker, generally on questions relating to the theme which they have already spoken about in Section 2.

Speaking Practice Tests

IELTS Scoring System

The IELTS scoring system is very unique composed of 9 bands, measured in consistent manner and is internationally acclaimed and understood. The IELTS score ranges between 1 to 9. You should spend some time studying the IELTS band score assessment criteria for details and being more clear understanding for each part of the test.

Band score Skill level Description
Band 9 Expert user You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.
Band 8 Very good user You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good user You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
Band 6 Competent user Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 Modest user You have a partial command of the language, and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.
Band 4 Limited user Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely limited user You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
Band 2 Intermittent user You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 Non-user You have no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test You did not answer the questions.

See >> IELTS Certificate Sample

IELTS Results

A Test Report Form is posted to test takers 13 days after their test. The IELTS results shows:

  • An Overall Band Score (from 1-9)
  • A band score (from 1-9) for each section of the test (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)
  • Whether IELTS Academic or General Training was completed
  • The test taker’s photo, nationality, first language and date of birth.

Test takers receive one copy of their Test Report Form, apart from test takers who are applying to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) who receive two copies. Test Report Forms are valid for two years.

How do I register for IELTS?

You can contact your nearest examination center for more information about registering for IELTS test and your application procedures. You may register and pay your IELTS test fee via online through British Council/ IDP Australia.

IELTS Registration