Components of IELTS exam


International English Language Testing System (IELTS), an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers and jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. It’s the world’s proven English language test. Other English language tests are TOEFL, TOEIC and OPI/OPIc.

There are two versions of IELTS: the Academic version and the General Training Version. The academic version is intended for those who want to enrol in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practise in an English speaking country. While general training is for those planning to undertake non-academic training or for work permit or immigration. IELTS result is issued to all the candidates with a score band from band 1 to band 9. Institutions are advised not to consider the report older than 2 years to be valid.

The IELTS test has 4 components:





IELTS test is conducted for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Listening, reading and writing are completed in one day. Speaking test is conducted on the next day or seven days before or after the other tests. All the candidates undergo same listening and speaking tests while the reading and writing tests differ depending on whether the candidate is appearing for academic version or general version.


Listening module comprises of four sections with ten questions in each section. It takes 40 minutes. 30 minutes for the test and 10 minutes for transferring the answers to the answer sheet.

  • Section one comprises of a conversation between two speakers.
  • Section two has one person speaking.
  • Section three has a conversation between two main speakers.
  • Section four has one person speaking about an academic subject.

Both Sector 3 and 4 is based on educational and training situations. Each section begins with an introduction so that the candidate can understand about the situation. Then they have some time to go through the questions. The questions are in the same order as the information in the recording. The first three sections have break in the middle allowing candidates to look at the remaining questions. For each section the recording is played only once so make sure that you don’t miss out anything.


The reading test comprises of 3 sections. There will be variety of questions asked like multiple choices, short answer questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s views, labelling diagrams, completing summary using words taken from the text and matching information. Candidate should be careful while writing your answers as you may lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar. IELTS academic version has 3 reading texts, which might be taken from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources. IELTS general training has 3 sections in which the first section has several shorter texts which deal with everyday topics. Second section has two texts, which deal with work. Third section has one long text about a topic of general interest. The text is generally descriptive, longer and more complex than the previous texts.


Writing test comprises of two tasks. In the first task, candidate is asked to write atleast 150 words in about 20 minutes on a particular topic. In the second task, candidate will be asked to write 250 words in about 40 minutes. Candidate will be penalised if not given sufficient and sensible answer to the topic. Make sure that answers should be written in full sentences don’t use any bullet points or notes. In IELTS academic version, candidate is asked to describe a graph, table, or diagram in their own words in the task 1 while in other one, candidate will give their point of view. They might be required to find a solution to the problem and justify their opinions. In IELTS general training, candidate writes a letter in response to the given situation and in another, the candidate writes an essay about the topic of general interests.


The speaking test is conducted between the candidate and examiner just like an interview. It contains three sections. In the first section, the candidate might be asked about their personal details and reasons for appearing IELTS exam. In the second section, candidate is given a topic to speak for one or more minutes. The third section involves discussion between the candidate and examiner regarding the topics they have already discussed.

Tips: Be attentive with what the examiner is asking you. Be confident while answering.