Overview of the IELTS test

Listening

Here are some key points about the IELTS listening test:

  • There are 4 parts with a total of 40 questions.
  • Each part has 10 questions.
  • It takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • You will hear each listening passage once only.
  • Each question is worth 1 mark.

Here is an overview of the 4 parts:

Part 
1a conversation between two speakers in an everyday social context (e.g. asking for information about a gym membership)
2a monologue in an everyday social context (e.g. speech about school facilities)
3a conversation between up to four speakers in an academic context (e.g. a student asking a tutor about an assignment)
4a monologue in an academic context (e.g. a university lecture)

A variety of question types is used:

  • multiple choice
  • matching
  • plan labelling
  • map labelling
  • diagram labelling
  • form completion
  • note completion
  • table completion
  • flow-chart completion
  • summary completion
  • sentence completion
  • short-answer questions

Reading

Here are some key points about the IELTS reading test:

  • There are 3 reading passages with a total of 40 questions.
  • Each passage has 12–14 questions.
  • The passages gradually become more difficult. That is, the first passage is the easiest and the third passage is the most difficult.
  • It takes 60 minutes.
  • Each question is worth one mark.
  • The passages are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They are authentic and academic but written for a non-specialist audience.
  • The style of the passages may be narrative, descriptive or argumentative. At least one of the passages will contain detailed logical argument.
  • If a passage contains technical terms that need to be understood in order to answer a question, a simple glossary is provided.

A variety of question types is used:

Writing

There are 2 tasks in the IELTS writing test: Task 1 and Task 2.

Here is an overview of Task 1:

TimingLengthWhat you need to do
20 minutes150 wordsDescribe and summarise visual information in the form of a graph, table, chart or diagram

Assessment criteria:

  • Task achievement
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

Here is an overview of Task 2:

TimingLengthWhat you need to do
40 minutes250 wordsWrite an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem

Assessment criteria:

  • Task response
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

Speaking

Here are some key points about the IELTS speaking test:

  • It is conducted face-to-face with a human examiner.
  • There are 3 parts.
  • It takes 11–14 minutes.
  • It is recorded.

Here is an overview of the various parts:

PartTimingWhat you need to do
14–5 minutesAnswer questions about familiar topics such as home, family and work
23–4 minutesSpeak for 1–2 minutes in response to a task card (following 1 minute of preparation time)
34–5 minutesAnswer more detailed and abstract questions about the topic from Part 2

Assessment criteria:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

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