There are two types of IELTS exams: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The exam tests your abilities in four sections- Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. While the Listening, Reading and Writing components are completed on the same day, the Speaking section can be completed a week before or after your test date. The test spans over 2 hours and 45 minutes.

A breakdown of the sections are given below:

Listening-: 30 minutes

  • 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

Reading*: 60 minutes

  • The first section, ‘social survival’, contains texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English with tasks mainly about retrieving and providing general factual information, for example, notices, advertisements and timetables
  • The second section, ‘Workplace survival’, focuses on the workplace context, for example, job descriptions, contracts and staff development and training materials
  • The third section, ‘general reading’, involves reading more extended prose with a more complex structure. Here, the emphasis is on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts, in a general context relevant to the wide range of test takers involved, for example, newspapers, magazines and fictional and non-fictional book extracts

Writing*: 60 minutes

  • 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 fairly personal in style

(*NOTE: The above sections are an example for IELTS General Training, for IELTS Academic please visit their website)

Speaking: 11- 14 minutes

  • 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 four and five minutes
  • Part 2  - you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic
  • Part 3 - you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes

(Information about the test format and its different sections have been sourced from the IELTS website)

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