• The IELTS exam is scored according to a 9-Band scale. You will get a score for each section. The average of these 4 marks is your Overall Band Score.
  • The total test time is 2 hours 45 minutes. The first three modules – Listening, Reading and Writing – must be completed in one day. The Speaking module may be taken, at the test centre’s discretion, in the period seven days before or after the other modules.

IELTS Exam Composition

Listening: Academic and General Training
4 sections (30 minutes + 10 minutes transfer time)
Reading: AcademicReading: General Training
3 texts (60 minutes)3 sections (60 minutes)
Writing: AcademicWriting: General Training
2 tasks
(Task 1 = 20 minutes/Task 2 = 40 minutes)
2 tasks
(Task 1 = 20 minutes/Task 2 = 40 minutes)
Speaking: Academic and General Training
3 sections (11-14 minutes)

IELTS PART 1: Listening

The Listening module is the first part of the exam. It takes approximately 30 minutes and consists of 4 sections. There are approximately 10 questions in each section. You are given time to read the questions before you listen. You listen only ONCE; while you listen, you can note your answers on the question paper. You have some extra time at the end to transfer your answers onto an exam answer sheet. A variety of tasks are used, chosen from the following types: multiple-choice; short-answer questions; sentence completion; notes/summary/diagram/flow-chart/table completion; labelling a diagram which has numbered parts; classification; and matching.

SectionType of listening texts
1Two speakers have a discussion in a social situation, e.g. talking about travel arrangements or renting a house.
2One speaker talks about a non-academic topic, e.g. the benefits of exercise.
3As many as four speakers have a discussion in an educational or training situation, e.g. a group of students discussing plans for giving a presentation.
4This is the longest section. One speaker gives a talk or mini lecture about a topic of general academic interest.

IELTS PART 2: Reading

The Reading module is the second part of the exam. It lasts 60 minutes and consists of 40 questions. You have to read 3 texts (about 2000-2500 words in total). You should write your answers directly onto the exam answer paper as you do NOT have extra time at the end to transfer your answers. A variety of tasks are used, chosen from the following types: multiple-choice; short-answer questions; sentence completion; notes/summary/diagram/flow-chart/table completion; choosing from a ‘heading bank’ for identified paragraphs/sections of text; identification of writer’s views/claims – yes, no or not given; identification of information in the text – yes, no or not given/true, false or not given; classification; and matching lists/phrases.

Academic Reading Module

SectionNumber and type of reading texts
1There is one passage in each section. Texts come from books, magazines, newspapers and journals, and are non-specialist; at least one passage contains a detailed argument.

General Training Reading Module

SectionNumber of textsType of texts
two or more textsUsually short but containing a lot of information. Based around everyday survival English, e.g. public information leaflets.
two textsUsually containing information about a university or college, e.g. services or facilities provided.
one longer textGeneral reading comprehension on any subject.

IELTS PART 3: Writing

The Writing module is the third part of the exam. It lasts 60 minutes and consists of 2 tasks. Task 2 carries more marks than Task 1.

Academic Writing

TaskWord countAdvised time limitTask description
1150 words minimum20 minsDescribing visual information, often presented as a bar chart, table or line graph.
2250 words minimum40 minsWriting a discursive (discussion) essay or a defence of an opinion, relating to a topic of general interest.

General Training Writing

TaskWord countAdvised time limitTask description
1150 words minimum20 minsResponding to a situation with a letter, e.g. asking for information, or explaining or complaining about a problem.
2250 words minimum40 minsWriting a discursive (discussion) essay, or a defence of an opinion, relating to a topic of general interest.

IELTS PART 4: Speaking

The Speaking module is the final part of the exam. It does not need to be taken on the same day as the other modules. It takes the form of a three-part oral interview, which takes between 11 and 14 minutes.

TaskTimeTask description
Introduction and interview
4-5 minsGive your name and talk about things which are personal to you, for example, your country and hometown, your family, your studies or work, what you like doing in your free time and what you might do in the future.
Individual long turn
3-4 minsThe examiner will give you a card that asks you to talk about a person, place, event or object. You will have 1 minute to prepare to speak, and then you will talk for 1-2 minutes, during which the examiner will not speak. The examiner will then ask one or two rounding-off questions.
Two-way discussion
4-5 minsYou will talk with the examiner about issues related to the topic on the card. However, the discussion will he on less personal topics. For example, in Part 2 you may talk about a teacher you had at school, but in Part 3 you might talk about education in your country.


The Reading test contains 40 questions and each correct answer is given one mark. The Academic and General Training Reading Tests are graded to the same level. However, because the texts in the Academic Reading Test are more challenging overall than those in the General Training Test, more questions need to be answered correctly on a General Training Test to receive the same grade. Click here for details.

Any answer which is above the word limit specified for the task will not receive a mark, so it is important to read the instructions carefully. For questions where you have to write letters or Roman numbers, write only the number of answers required. For questions where you have to complete a gap, write only the missing word(s) on the answer sheet. Spelling and grammar must be correct. The final score is converted to a whole or half band on the IELTS band scale.

What can I do to improve my performance at the Reading test?

  • Make sure you answer the questions asked. It might help to read the questions before you read the passage.
  • Manage your time. Do not spend too much time on a question you find difficult. Answer the others and then come back to it.
  • Look at visuals and subtitles to get a general idea of what the passage is about.
  • Identify the topic sentence in each paragraph. This will give you a clue to the answers.
  • Use reading strategies such as skimming and scanning to help you find the answers. Don’t worry if you do not know the meaning of every single word in the text. Try to guess the meaning of the words you don’t know from the context.
  • Correct grammar and spelling are important.
  • Make sure you go through your answers to check if they are relevant to the questions asked and if the language used is correct.