What Is IELTS?

Find out about the IELTS Test format and what is required in the different parts of the IELTS test

IELTS Writing

The Academic IELTS Writing Test has two separate writing tasks in 60 minutes. For each part, you will receive a question paper and an answer sheet. You can make notes on the question paper, only the text on the answer sheet will be marked by the examiner. You can write your answers in pen or pencil and correct when necessary. You cannot use a dictionary or any electronic devices.

IELTS Academic and General Training students do different tests for part 1 but complete the same test for part 2. Both Academic and General Training students write a discursive essay in writing task 2 – but the difficulty of the question will differ. All students should learn how to write this type of essay. 

In writing task 2 you will be asked to write an essay (250 words minimum) on a specific topic. You should leave 40 minutes for this during the test, which includes time to check your work. Each essay has a slightly different structure, you can learn about those structures in the other posts in the writing task 2 section

Requirements from universities and immigration agencies vary. Most students will need at least a band score 6 for undergraduate study. For postgraduate study or immigration, a band score 7 is generally required. 


The IELTS Reading Test lasts 60 minutes. It is made up of three parts, with a total of 40 questions. You are given no extra time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. During the test, the texts become more difficult.

In the General Training test, the texts are not academic, they are about daily life, for example – advertisements, reviews or ‘how to’ articles. You may read something about preparing for a job interview or a review of places to visit when going abroad.

In the Academic test, all three texts are of an academic tone, for instance – scientific research or a historical article. The articles in the Academic reading test may include research about medical procedures or the future of medicine, the environment and climate change issues.


The IELTS Listening Test lasts 30 minutes, with an extra 10 minutes to transfer answers to the answer sheet. It is made up of four parts, with a total of 40 questions (10 per section).

During the test, the texts become more difficult, with part one being the easiest and part 4 the hardest. You will only hear each recording once, never more than that. 

IELTS Academic and IELTS General students take the same test and it is marked in the same way.


The IELTS Speaking Test lasts 11-14 minutes. 

The test has three parts, where you are interviewed by a trained examiner. You are not allowed to use a dictionary during the test. IELTS Academic and IELTS General students take the same test and it is marked in the same way.

The three parts of the test are as follows;

Part 1 – 4-5 minutes >> You will be asked questions on familiar topics, like your hobbies, family, where you are from, what your hometown/city is like, etc.

Part 2 – 3-4 minutes >> First, the examiner will give you one minute to think about the question and make notes. Next, you will speak for 1-2 minutes uninterrupted. Then the examiner will ask you a further two or three questions about what you have said. 

Part 3 – 4-5 minutes >> The examiner will ask you further questions related to the question topic from part 2. This will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas.

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