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What is IELTS and what is its format

What is IELTS and what is its format

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an internationally recognized test that is a prerequisite for many educational institutions, career opportunities, and immigration procedures. It is designed to test a person’s proficiency in English in the domains of reading, writing, speaking and listening. There are two versions of the exam:

  • IELTS Academic
    This is for those who wish to pursue higher education in universities or professional registration.
  • IELTS General Training
    This is for those who want to train, study in a secondary level institution, work, or immigrate to an English-speaking country.

Features for both formats are the same with respect to time, length of responses, grading, and scores. Listening and speaking components are identical for both versions but reading and writing sections differ slightly.
The listening, reading and writing section of the test are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. However, the speaking section can be held a week before or after the other tests. The total time allotted is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
There are four categories that you will be tested on:

You will be given 60 minutes to read passages and answer 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, including multiple choice, true/false, sentence completion, matching headings, identifying writer’s views, etc.

  • For IELTS Academic
    There are three authentic, long passages, ranging from descriptive, discursive or factual texts. There will also be analytical data in the form of graphs, diagrams or illustrations.
  • For IELTS General Training
    There are three sections with multiple short texts related to work and general topics.

You will be given 60 minutes to complete 2 tasks.

  • For IELTS Academic
    You will have to summarize, describe or explain visual information in the form of a table, graph or diagram (150 words) and an essay (250 words).
  • You will have to write a letter (150 words) and an essay (250 words).

This is a 30 minutes session (plus 10 minutes extra for transferring answers to paper). Four recorded dialogues and monologues in different accents (American, British, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand) will be played only once. Ten questions will be asked from each part. The answers follow the order of events that you will hear in the audio.

This is a face-face interview session, 11 to 14 minutes long. There are 3 parts that assess your skill of spoken English:

  • Part 1 - You will be asked general questions about yourself and familiar topics. This part lasts about four to five minutes.
  • Part 2 - You will be given a card, about which you will have to speak for a couple minutes. Before you begin, you will be given a minute to collect your thoughts, thereafter you will be asked a few questions on the same topic.
  • Part 3 - Further questions will be asked about the topic in Part 2 for another 4 to 5 minutes. You will discuss ideas and issues in greater depth.