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IELTS tests a complete range of skills commonly needed by students when studying or training in English. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules. Students planning to undertake academic study, it is recommended that they take the Academic Reading and Writing Modules. If they are planning to undertake non-academic training, it is recommended that they take the General Training Reading and Writing Modules.


The test is conducted in the following order

The Listening Module takes around 30 minutes. There are 40 questions. There are four sections. The Listening Module is recorded on a tape and is heard ONCE only. During the test, time is given for candidates to read the questions and enter and then check their answers. Answers are entered, as candidates listen, on the Question Paper. When the tape ends ten minutes are allowed for candidatesto transfer their answers to an Answer Sheet.

The Reading Module takes 60 minutes. There are 40 questions. There are three reading passages with a total of 1,500 to 2,500 words. A variety of questions is used, chosen from the following types:

  • Multiple choice
  • Short-answer questions
  • Notes/summary/diagram/flow chart/table completion
  • Choosing from a 'heading bank' for identified paragraphs/sections of the text
  • Identification of writer's views/attitudes/claims-yes, no or not given
  • Classification
  • Matching lists/phrases

The Writing Module takes 60 minutes. There are two tasks to complete. In Task 1 candidates are asked to look at a diagram or table, and to present the information in their own words. It is suggested that about 20 minutes is spent on Task 1, which requires candidates to write at least 150 words. In Task 2 candidates are presented with a point of view or argument or problem. Task 2 requires at least 250 words and should take about 40 minutes.

The Speaking Module takes between 11 and 14 minutes. It consists of an oral interview, a conversation, between the candidate and an examiner.

Part Nature of interaction Timing
Part 1 : Introduction and Interview Examiner introduces him/herself and confirms candidate’s identity. Examiner interviews candidate using verbal questions based on familiar topic frames 4-5 minutes
Part 2 : Individual long turn Examiner asks candidate to speak for 1-2 minutes on a particular topic based on written input in the form of a general instruction and content-focused prompts. Examiner asks one or two questions at the end of the long turn. 3-4 minutes (incl. 1 minute preparation time)
Part 3 : Two-way discussionce Examiner invites candidate to participate in discussion of more abstract nature, based on verbal questions thematically linked to Part 2 prompt. 4-5 minutes