• The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination can be taken in over 100 different countries in the world. It is primarily designed to assess the readiness of candidates to study or train in further or higher education courses held in English at college or university.
  • The examination takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete, and consists of four Sub-tests in the skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  • There are two IELTS test modules available – the Academic Module and the General Training Module. The results of the Academic Module may be used to determine a candidate’s suitability for study at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The General Training Module is suitable for candidates wishing to continue their studies at diploma level only. The General Training Module is also used for immigration purposes to Australia or New Zealand, and for students who wish to complete their secondary education in an English-speaking country. The General Training Reading and Writing Sub-tests are less demanding than the corresponding Academic Module Sub-tests, but the Listening and Speaking Sub-tests are the same for both modules.
  • It does not matter what subject you are going to study in the future – or have studied in the past – all students taking the desired module do the same test. You will not be tested on your specific knowledge of a subject; only your English language skills are assessed.
  • You may write on the question papers, but you may not take the question papers from the examination room. All your answers must be written on the Answer Sheet provided.
  • You can apply to take the IELTS examination at any IELTS Administration Centre. For further details of your nearest centre, consult the IDP British Council UCLES IELTS Handbook or refer to the official IELTS website on the Internet: http://www.ielts.org/centres.cfm
  • At certain IELTS Administration Centres it is possible to choose between a computerised version of the Listening, Reading and Writing Sub-tests (CBIELTS) and the usual paper-based version.
  • You cannot pass or fail the IELTS examination. The university or college that you wish to enter will inform you of the overall IELTS Band Score they require for enrolment in the particular course you wish to study. Note that you may also need to achieve a minimum score in a particular Sub-test (often the Writing Sub-test).
  • You will be given a mark between 0 and 9 for each of the 4 Sub-tests (there are no half marks in the Writing and Speaking Sub-tests). Your Overall Band Score is an average of the 4 Sub-test Band Scores, with fractional scores rounding up or down to the nearest x.0 or x.5 score (with x.25 and x.75 rounding up.)


Therefore, if you score           6.5    in the Listening Sub-test

  • in the Reading Sub-test
  • in the Writing Sub-test        and   
  •     “6”        in the Speaking Sub-test


Your total score is24.5

By averaging the scores (dividing the total score 24.5 by 4) in the example above, you would achieve an Overall Band Score of 6.0 (which is 6.125 rounded down).

  • You will usually receive your results within two weeks of the date of your test.
  • If you want to take the examination again, you must wait a minimum of three months, yet there is no limit to the number of times you can sit for the IELTS examination.


  • The Listening Sub-test takes 30 minutes: approximately 20 minutes to listen to the tape and answer the questions, and 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an Answer Sheet provided with the test booklet.
  • The test consists of 4 sections, and you will hear the tape only once. There are 40 questions in total.
  • The listening passages become more difficult as you progress through the test.
  • Section 1 is based on social or life situations: for example, travel arrangements, visiting a new city, or making arrangements to go out. This is usually a conversation between at least two speakers.
  • Section 2 is also based on social or life situations: for example, a news broadcast, or a description of college facilities. This is usually a passage with only one person speaking.
  • Section 3 is usually based on education and training situations: for example, a group of students planning a project, or a tutor and a student discussing career options. This is often a conversation with up to four speakers.
  • Section 4 is also based on education and training: for example, a lecture or a talk of general academic interest.
  • Spelling is not important in the Listening Sub-test, except that you must spell words correctly when they are spelt out for you on the tape.
  • Your answers need to be legible, that is, they must be able to be read. This applies to all the types of answers you give: letters, numbers and phrases.
  • You write your answers on the question paper as you do the Listening Sub-test, and when it is completed, you have 10 minutes to transfer them carefully onto the Answer Sheet. Make sure that each answer is transferred accurately and is legible.



  • The Reading Sub-test takes 60 minutes and is in 3 sections. There are 3 passages with a combined length of 1500-2500 words and a total of 40 questions.
  • The reading passages become more difficult as you progress through the test.
  • The passages are taken from journals, magazines, books and newspapers. All the topics are of general interest and are not specialised texts.
  • The reading passages may contain diagrams, charts or graphs, and at least one passage will include an argument. If a reading passage contains technical or specialised words, a glossary is usually provided.
  • The questions may come before or after the reading passages in the examination booklet, and instructions and examples are given at the beginning of a new group of questions.
  • You must write your answers during the Reading Sub-test on the Answer Sheet provided.


The Writing Sub-test takes 60 minutes.

There are two writing tasks.

The first task will take approximately 20 minutes, and you are required to write a minimum of 150 words. The second task will take approximately 40 minutes with a minimum of 250 words.

For Task 1 you describe information that is presented to you in a graph, table, chart, diagram, or short piece of text. The description is usually given in the form of a report. You might have to compare sets of data, or use a set of data to support a given statement. Alternatively, you might be required to describe the stages of a process, describe an object, or explain how something works, or how it is used.

For Task 2 you are asked to write a formal essay or a report in which you might have to offer a solution to a particular problem, present and justify an opinion, compare information given in the question task, or evaluate and challenge a given argument.

In both tasks you must write in the formal academic style appropriate to the question task. You will also be marked on your ability to organise your writing, and on your choice of content within your answers.

The question tasks do not require you to have any specialised knowledge of a particular subject.


The Speaking Sub-test takes between 11 and 14 minutes.

The Sub-test consists of an interview with a trained examiner, and is recorded on a tape recorder.

However, this recording is made to assess the examiner and not the candidate.

There are 3 parts to the Speaking Sub-test.

Part 1:    you answer questions about your home life or family life, work or study, your interests and other familar topics of a general nature to reveal your background. (4-5 minutes)

Part 2:   you are given exactly 1 minute to prepare yourself to talk about a particular topic. The instructions to guide your talk are written on a card given to you by the examiner. Your talk should last for 1 -2 minutes. The examiner will ask one or two questions at the end. (3-4 minutes – including preparation time of 1 minute)

Part 3:    you have a discussion with the examiner based on themes connected to the topic given in Part 2. This part of the test requires discussion of more abstract ideas. (4-5 minutes)

The interview is then closed and the Speaking Sub-test is completed.

Most of the questions asked in the Sub-test are scripted; they come from a bank of questions prepared by the test authorities. These questions are being continually added to and updated.

The Speaking Sub-test Band Score is calculated from a comprehensive checklist of speaking skills in 4 distinct areas of ability:

Fluency and Coherence

Lexical Resource

Grammatical Range and Accuracy