Test Format

IELTS | Test Takers – Test format


Listening and Speaking components are common to all candidates while the Reading and Writing components differ. Listening, Reading and Writing tests should be taken on the same day one after the other, with no breaks in between them.

Your Speaking test will either be after a break on the same day as the other three tests, or up to seven days before or after that. This will depend on your test centre.



You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by speakers from America, United Kingdom, Australia, and write your answers to a series of questions from a variety of question types.

All these question types test your ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, ability to understand the purpose of an utterance and the ability to follow the development of ideas.

Each section is heard only once and a variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used.

Section 1

In this section you can hear a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.

Section 2

A monologue set in an everyday social context can be heard in this section. e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Section 3

A conversation between minimum of two and maximum of four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and two students discussing a project they have done.

Section 4

A monologue (a lecture or a talk on an academic subject e.g. a university lecture on Namibian rock art)

Reading – 60 minutes

The Reading module consists of 40 questions. In this component, a wide range of reading skills are tested using a variety of question types . These including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS Academic

The Academic reading test includes three long texts which are descriptive, factual, discursive and analytical. The texts are actual and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. The passages have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for candidates entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

IELTS General Training

In the General Training test, candidates are required to read extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are the types of reading materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English speaking environment.

Writing – 60 minutes

IELTS Academic

Academic component consists of two writing tasks. Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for candidates who are wishing to enter undergraduate and postgraduate studies at a higher educational institute or seeking professional registration.

Task 1

You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to the rubric (a point of view, argument or problem).
Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

IELTS General Training

The General Training component consists two writing components. Both tasks included are based on topics of general interest.

Task 1

A situation will be presented to you and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining such situation. The letter may be informal, semi-formal or formal in style.

Task 2

In this task, you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. In terms of style the essay can be slightly more personal than the Task 2 essay in Academic Writing.

Speaking – 11 to 14 minutes

The Speaking part of IELTS assesses your oral communication skills in English, and takes from 11 to 14 minutes to complete. Your interview with the examiner is recorded. The Speaking test questions are always different except some of the questions in part 1 and the test does not allow candidates to memorise or rehearse set responses beforehand.

Part 1

In this part of the test the Examiner will ask you general questions about yourself, home, family, work, studies and interests. This part takes between four and five minutes.

Part 2

In part 2, you will be given a cue card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare for this task and you are required to speak for two to three minutes. At last the examiner will ask one or two rounding off questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.

Part 3

Based on the topic you talked about in part 2, you will then be asked further questions . These questions will give you the opportunity to have a serious discussion with the examiner. The part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.