IELTS - the International English Language Testing System, is one of the world’s most widely-recognised English language qualifications. It is a comprehensive test of the four skills of speaking, reading, writing and listening.

IELTS has two modules – Academic and General Training. The Academic module is for people who want to study in an English speaking environment for higher education or for professional development. The General module is for people who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or for training, and it is sometimes used for migration purposes. 

The IELTS score is calculated as an average of the four components tested – each has equal weight. You will be awarded a band score between 0-9, with 9 being the highest. It is possible to get a half-mark (e.g. 6.5).

For study purposes, 5.5 is usually enough for pre-undergraduate foundation course, 6.0 for undergraduate courses and 6.5 and above for postgraduate courses - although different institutions have different entry requirements. Click here to check who accepts what. 

Academic module
General module

IELTS Test Format

The IELTS test consists of four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking . Listening and Speaking are the same for both the Academic and General modules, but the task types of the Reading and Writing components are different depending on which test you take.

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day – there are no breaks in between the components. The Speaking test can take place up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test centre will advise you on the date and time.

The Academic module contains features of academic English and the test assesses how ready the candidate is to study in an English environment. 

IELTS Listening

Questions: 40

Time: 30 minutes (approximately) plus ten minutes to transfer answers to the answersheet.

The Listening test is the same for both the Academic and General modules. The test has four parts, each with ten questions. The first two are recordings of everyday social situations. The last two are recordings in educational and training situations. For more information about the tasks and the question types, click here

IELTS Academic Reading

Questions: 40

Time: 60 minutes (no extra time to transfer answers)

Academic Reading consists of three passages of general interest taken from books, magazines, journals and newspapers. The texts deal with issues that are relevant and of interest to candidates about to begin undergraduate, postgraduate or professional study. A number of different task types are used – click here to find more information on Academic Reading. 

IELTS Academic Writing

Two tasks (both must be answered)

Time: 60 minutes

Task One

This task asks you to describe some visual information, such as a table, graph, chart, map or diagram, in words. The answer should be at least 150 words long and you should spend around 20 minutes on this task. For more information on Task One, click here.

Task Two

This task asks you to discuss a point of view, argument or problem in an essay. You should write at least 250 words and spend around 40 minutes on this task. For more information on Task Two, click here.

IELTS Speaking

Time: 11-14 minutes

The Speaking Test is a one-to-one interview with an examiner. It consists of three parts. In the first part the examiner will ask for your passport or ID card and ask general questions about everyday topics. This part lasts for 4-5 minutes and the examiner uses scripted questions. Click here for more information on the first part.

The second part is your individual long turn where you are expected to speak for two minutes. You will be given a task card on a particular topic with some points to cover in your talk. You will have one minute to prepare your talk. Click here for more information on the second part.

The third part is a two-way discussion with the examiner based on issues related to your part two topic. The discussion will explore the issues in both general and abstract ways and, if appropriate, in greater depth. Click here for more information on the third part.

IELTS Test Format

The General module focuses more on everyday survival skills in social situations and in the workplace. It is for people who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or for training. It is also used for migration purposes in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK

The IELTS test consists of four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Listening and Speaking are the same for both the Academic and General modules, but the task types of the Reading and Writing components are different depending on which test you take.

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day – there are no breaks in between the components.

The Speaking test can take place up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test centre will advise you on the date and time.

IELTS Listening

Questions: 40

Time: 30 minutes (approximately) plus ten minutes to transfer answers to the answersheet.

The Listening test is the same for both the Academic and General modules. The test has four parts, each with ten questions. The first two are recordings of everyday social situations. The last two are recordings in educational and training situations. For more information about the tasks and the question types, click here

IELTS General Reading

Questions: 40

Time: 60 minutes (no extra time to transfer answers)

General Reading consists of three sections. The first section may consist of two or three short texts or several shorter texts, section two has two texts and section three has one long text.

Section one is concerned with the language you need to survive in social situations, section two looks at the language needed to get by in the workplace and section three is a longer descriptive or instructive text.

A number of different task types are used – click here to find more information on General Reading. 

IELTS General Writing

Two tasks (both must be answered)

Time: 60 minutes

Task One

In this task you are expected to write a letter in response to a request for information or to explain a situation. You are given three bullet points that you must address in your answer.

The answer should be at least 150 words long and you should spend around 20 minutes on this task. For more information on Task One, click here.

Task Two

In this task you will be given a point of view, an argument or a problem based on general interest topics that you have to respond to with an essay.

You should write at least 250 words and spend around 40 minutes on this task. For more information on Task Two, click here.

IELTS Speaking

Time: 11-14 minutes

The Speaking Test is a one-to-one interview with an examiner. It consists of three parts. In the first part the examiner will ask for your passport or ID card and ask general questions about everyday topics. This part lasts for 4-5 minutes and the examiner uses scripted questions. Click here for more information on the first part.

The second part is your individual long turn where you are expected to speak for two minutes. You will be given a task card on a particular topic with some points to cover in your talk. You will have one minute to prepare your talk. Click here for more information on the second part.

The third part is a two-way discussion with the examiner based on issues related to your part two topic. The discussion will explore the issues in both general and abstract ways and, if appropriate, in greater depth. Click here for more information on the third part.