Introduction to IELTS

All candidates are tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking 

30 mins
60 mins
60 mins
11 – 14 mins

Total test time: 2 hours 44 minutes excluding breaks.
All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests. There is a choice of Reading and Writing tests according to whether a candidate is taking the Academic or General Training version of the test.

Reading and Writing Tests
General Training
For candidates taking the test for entry to undergraduate or postgraduate studies, or for professional reasons
For candidates taking the test for entry to vocational or training programmes not at degree level, for   admission to secondary schools and for immigration purposes  
The tests modules are taken in the following order:
Listening           4 sections, 40 items            30 minutes
Academic Reading  3 sections, 40 items
60 minutes
General Training Reading 3 sections, 40 items
60 minutes
Academic Writing  2 tasks
60 minutes
General Training
 2 tasks
60 minutes
Speaking              11 to 14 minutes
Total test time        2 hours 44 minutes


                                                            Time: 30 minutes 4 sections, 40 questions
                                                 Real-world listening situations
                                                            Range of topics and tasks
                                                              – listening for specific information – e.g.dates, place names
                                                             – understanding gist
                                                              – understanding speaker attitude / opinion

Listening Test Format

 Section 1: conversation – 2 speakers
 Section 2: monologue
 Section 3: conversation – 4 speakers
 Section 4: lecture

General listening strategies

Recording is played once
Read question CAREFULLY BEFORE listening
 Familiarise yourself with question types:
      – completing a chart
      – selecting pictures
      – note-taking exercises
      – MC questions


 Time: 60 minutes 3 reading passages, totally 40 questions
 Texts are taken from books, magazines, journals and newspapers
  Question types
    – find detailed information  
    – identify attitudes and views 
   – complete a diagram

General Reading Strategies

Identify reading skills being tested
Practise these skills


 Time: 60 minutes 2 tasks
 Task 1(20mins): descriptive report of a table or diagram, 150 words 
 Task 2(40 mins): 250 word essay in response to an opinion or a problem. 
 Discuss issues, construct an argument and use the appropriate tone and register.

General Writing Strategies

Read the question carefully
Familiarise yourself with descriptions of data in newspapers and textbooks
Practise formulating your own ideas on topics


 Time: 10 – 15 minutes 
 Face to face interview between one candidate and one examiner. 
 Part 1 (4-5mins): Introduction and interview
 Part 2 (1-3 mins incl. prep): Individual talk
 Part 3 (4-5 mins): Discussion topics
 Speak fluently and link ideas coherently
 Demonstrate a range of appropriate vocabulary
 Use accurate grammar and appropriate register
  Speak so that a listener can understand

Speaking strategies

 Part 1
 Take the initiative if possible
 Always say more than yes or no
 Try to overcome nerves
 Part 2
    – Take the 1 min preparation time
   – Jot down some main ideas
  – Sound interested in the talk
 Part 3
  – Give informed responses
  – Demonstrate your control of the language 
  – Attempt to express abstract ideas 
  – Support your opinions 
   – Show that you are willing to provide extended replies


  IELTS provides a profile of a candidate’s ability to use English
  Candidates receive a score on a Band Scale from 1- 9
                Scores on the IELTS test are graded into nine bands as follows: 
Band Descriptor
Expert user
Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
Very good user
Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies. Misunderstandings occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation as well.
Good user
Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
Competent user Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations. 
Modest user
Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
Limited user
Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Extremely limited user
Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
Intermittent user
No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty in understanding spoken and written English.
Non user
Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
Did not attempt the test
No assessable information provided.

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