Reading

About the IELTS Reading test

The reading test has 40 questions to answer in total. All questions are equally important: you get one mark for each correct answer. The test lasts for 60 minutes. This includes time to copy your answers onto the answer sheet. No additional time is given to transfer your answers at the end of 60 minutes.

The content of the test will depend on whether you are taking the Academic or General Training modules.

Academic module overview
This module contains three reading texts. Texts come from magazines, journals, books and newspapers and are written for a general or non-specialist audience. Texts may include diagrams, graphs and illustrations.

General Training module overview
This module contains three sections of progressively more difficult content.

Section Focus
1 may contain two or three short texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English, such as public notices, advertisements and timetables
2 contains two texts which focus on the workplace environment, such as job descriptions, contracts and staff development and training materials
3 one long text designed to test your ability to cope with longer, more complex passages found in newspapers, magazines, and fiction and non-fiction book extracts
Section 1
Focus:
may contain two or three short texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English, such as public notices, advertisements and timetables
Section 2
Focus:
contains two texts which focus on the workplace environment, such as job descriptions, contracts and staff development and training materials
Section 3
Focus:
one long text designed to test your ability to cope with longer, more complex passages found in newspapers, magazines, and fiction and non-fiction book extracts

What kind of tasks to expect
Expect to find a variety of task types and answer formats in both test modules. Here are examples of the main task types. You may also find short-answer questions, summary completion and table completion as well as various forms of multiple choice.

Any of the following (though not all) may appear in any section:

  • Sentence completion
  • Various kinds of matching
  • Labelling flow-charts or other kinds of diagram
  • Identifying the writer’s claims or views
  • Identifying information

Looking for more details?

Click into the Free Version of Road to IELTS, go to “Starting Out” and download the eBook. You will see examples of the question formats as well as IELTS tips and advice for getting the score you need.

Road to IELTS, the official British Council course created together with ClarityEnglish. Available at IELTSpractice

Speaking

About the IELTS Speaking test

The speaking test lasts 11 to 14 minutes. It is a face-to-face interview with an IELTS examiner. The examiner will make an audio recording of your interview.

The test is in three parts:

Parts Focus
1 You answer general questions about yourself, your home, family, job, studies, your interests and a range of familiar topic areas.
2 You give a talk for up to two minutes, after which the examiner may ask one or two questions on the same topic. You base your talk on a topic card given to you by the examiner and you have one minute to prepare your talk based on the card. You can make some notes and refer to them during your talk if you wish.
3 The examiner asks you questions which are connected to the topic in phase 2. This is an opportunity for you to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.
Part 1
Focus:
You answer general questions about yourself, your home, family, job, studies, your interests and a range of familiar topic areas.
Part 2
Focus:
You give a talk for up to two minutes, after which the examiner may ask one or two questions on the same topic. You base your talk on a topic card given to you by the examiner and you have one minute to prepare your talk based on the card. You can make some notes and refer to them during your talk if you wish.
Part 3
Focus:
The examiner asks you questions which are connected to the topic in phase 2. This is an opportunity for you to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.

What the examiner is looking for
The examiner rates your speaking against a standard set of criteria.

Criteria How responses are assessed
Fluency and coherence Key points for fluency are your speed and how fluid and continuously you speak. Key points for coherence are how logically you order what you say, and the connecting words and phrases you use between and inside sentences.
Lexical resource the range of vocabulary you use and how well you use vocabulary to express meaning and opinions
Grammatical range and accuracy the range, accuracy and appropriate use of grammar; the number of grammatical errors you make and to what extent the errors block effective communication
Pronunciation how easy it is for the listener to understand your speech
Criteria:
Fluency and coherence
How responses are assessed:
Key points for fluency are your speed and how fluid and continuously you speak. Key points for coherence are how logically you order what you say, and the connecting words and phrases you use between and inside sentences.
Criteria:
Lexical resource
How responses are assessed:
the range of vocabulary you use and how well you use vocabulary to express meaning and opinions
Criteria:
Grammatical range and accuracy
How responses are assessed:
the range, accuracy and appropriate use of grammar; the number of grammatical errors you make and to what extent the errors block effective communication
Criteria:
Pronunciation
How responses are assessed:
how easy it is for the listener to understand your speech

Looking for more details?

Click into the Free Version of Road to IELTS, go to “Starting Out” and download the eBook. You will see examples of the question formats as well as IELTS tips and advice for getting the score you need.

Road to IELTS, the official British Council course created together with ClarityEnglish. Available at IELTSpractice

Listening

About the IELTS Listening test

The Listening test has four sections. You have 40 questions to answer in total and there are ten questions in each section. All questions are equally important: you get one mark for each correct answer, which makes 40 marks in total.

The listening test lasts for 40 minutes. This includes ten minutes to copy your answers onto the answer sheet. Each section is played once only. IELTS recordings may include a range of world English varieties, including British, Australian, New Zealand and North American.

Section Focus Number of Questions
1 A conversation in an everyday social situation, e.g. two colleagues in the office or a customer and staff member in a department store 10
2 One person speaking in an everyday social situation 10
3 A conversation between two or more people in an educational or training context, e.g. tutorial or seminar 10
4 A lecture or talk on a topic of general academic interest 10
Section 1
Focus: A conversation in an everyday social situation, e.g. two colleagues in the office or a customer and staff member in a department store
Number of Questions: 10
Section 2
Focus: One person speaking in an everyday social situation
Number of Questions: 10
Section 3
Focus: A conversation between two or more people in an educational or training context, e.g. tutorial or seminar
Number of Questions: 10
Section 4
Focus: A lecture or talk on a topic of general academic interest
Number of Questions: 10

What kind of tasks to expect
Expect to find a variety of task types and answer formats. Here are examples of the main task types:

  • Forms
  • Multiple choice
  • Short-answer questions
  • Flow-chart completion
  • Sentence completion
  • Table completion
  • Labeling a diagram, plan or map

You might also find summary, notes completion and matching tasks. These question types might appear in any of the four sections.

And remember, not all question types appear in any individual listening test.

Looking for more details?

Click into the Free Version of Road to IELTS, go to “Starting Out” and download the eBook. You will see examples of the question formats as well as IELTS tips and advice for getting the score you need.

Road to IELTS, the official British Council course created together with ClarityEnglish. Available at IELTSpractice

Writing

About the IELTS Writing test

The writing test lasts for 60 minutes. There are two tasks. You should spend about 20 minutes on task one and about 40 minutes on task two. Task two is worth twice as many marks as task one.

  • Task 1: You have to write at least 150 words.
  • Task 2: You have to write at least 250 words.

The type of task will depend on whether you are taking the Academic or General Training modules.

Academic module overview

  • Task 1: You will describe, in your own words, information contained in a graph, diagram, table or chart. Information may be data in word or number form, stages in a process, how something works or you may need to describe an object or event.
  • Task 2: You will write a short essay in response to a topic which is presented as a point of view, an argument or a problem.

General Training module overview

  • Task 1: You will write a letter in response to an everyday situation or problem. For example, you may be asked to request information or explain a situation.
  • Task 2: You will write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

What the examiner is looking for
The examiner assesses writing against the same general criteria in both Academic and General Training Modules.

Task Criteria Number of Questions
1 Task achievement How appropriately, accurately and relevantly you fulfill task requirements
2 Task response Task two asks you to formulate and develop a position in relation to a prompt in the form of a question or statement. Your ideas should be supported by evidence. You may draw examples from your own experience. You should write at least 250 words. If you write fewer words than 250, examiners will deduct marks.
For both tasks Coherence and cohesion
Lexical resource
Grammatical range and accuracy
the overall clarity and fluency of the message; how well you organise and link information and ideas; logical sequencing and appropriate use of linking devices between and within sentences the range of vocabulary you use; how accurate and appropriate it is in relation to the specific task the range and accurate use of grammar as seen in the candidate’s writing at the sentence level
Task 1

Criteria: Task achievement

Number of Questions:
How appropriately, accurately and relevantly you fulfill task requirements
Task 2

Criteria: Task response

Number of Questions:
Task two asks you to formulate and develop a position in relation to a prompt in the form of a question or statement. Your ideas should be supported by evidence. You may draw examples from your own experience. You should write at least 250 words. If you write fewer words than 250, examiners will deduct marks.
Task: For both tasks

Criteria:
Coherence and cohesion

Lexical resource

Grammatical range and accuracy

Number of Questions:
the overall clarity and fluency of the message; how well you organise and link information and ideas; logical sequencing and appropriate use of linking devices between and within sentences the range of vocabulary you use; how accurate and appropriate it is in relation to the specific task the range and accurate use of grammar as seen in the candidate’s writing at the sentence level

Looking for more details?

Click into the Free Version of Road to IELTS, go to “Starting Out” and download the eBook. You will see examples of the question formats as well as IELTS tips and advice for getting the score you need.

Road to IELTS, the official British Council course created together with ClarityEnglish. Available at IELTSpractice
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