IELTS Exam – Everything you need to know

IELTS Exam format
IELTS Exam format

IELTS  stands for International English Language Testing System. This is the world’s most popular English language test that is conducted 48 times a year with 1200 centers in nearly 140 countries. The IELTS exam is required for migration as well as for academic purposes in countries like Australia, US, UK, New Zealand and Canada.

The IELTS exam checks whether you are able to speak English effortlessly without fumbling or hesitation. 

The exam checks your proficiency in Reading, Writing, Speaking and listening skills in English.  

IELTS has two kinds of test that you can appear for

  1. General Training
  2. Academic Training

The listening & speaking test is similar in both General and Academic training tests however for the reading and writing test it’s format is different.

IELTS General training is for those who are looking for work or jobs abroad. It is also required if you are planning for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and UK. The tasks and the test reflect both workplace and social situations. 

Whereas the IELTS Academic training is for those who wish to study abroad for colleges or universities. It covers the topics suitable for entering a university or professional institute. 

There is often a lot of confusion among students and professionals regarding how these two training differs.

Which IELTS test is a Right fit for me?

Before you register yourself for the IELTS test, it is good to check and verify, what your goal is.

General Training is for those who want to 

  • Study below a degree level that includes school or colleges.
  • Migrate to countries like Australia, Canada, UK & New Zealand.
  • Work in an English speaking country.
  • Get a better job in their own country.

Academic training is for those who – 

  • Want to study at an undergraduate or postgraduate degree level.
  • Work in an English speaking country in a professional organization.

IELTS test scores are calculated from a range of 1 to 9 depending on the scale. So there is nothing such as passing or failing. The final scores are calculated to the nearest tens. For instance, if you score 6.5, it becomes 7.

The candidates target their band score depending on the country they wish to migrate. Bands are allotted by analyzing their performance in the Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing skills. :

The IELTS band score requirement for different countries is completely different. Canada requires the least band score, i.e, 6 whereas Germany requires a band on a higher side that is 7.5 or 8+.

Take a look over some of the IELTS accepting countries and their maximum band score requirement. However, these requirements may vary from country to country.

1 Canada 6.5
2 Australia   7
3 United kingdoms 7.5
4 USA 7
5 France 6.7
6 New Zealand 7
7 Greece 6.7
8 Spain 6.7
9 Italy 6.6
10 Ireland 6.5

 Now let us understand how the format of the test goes –

 In both the training – The listening, writing and reading test are conducted on the same day.  However the speaking test can be given 3 days before or after the date of the IELTS exam.

The time duration of both the tests is 2 hours and 45 minutes. For preparation of the IELTS exam, you can try a mock test to access your abilities.

Do get a detailed information about each section of IELTS test conducted in the official website :

Listening test

Duration : 30 minutes

Number of questions : 40

Task : You will listen to four recordings of native speakers and write your answer to a series of questions.

Marks : One mark for each correct answer

Recording 1 – General conversation

Recording 2 – General monologue

Recording 3 – Academic conversation

Recording 4 – Academic monologue

ALERT : You will be allowed to listen to each recording only once.

TASK FOCUS : Your ability to understand the factual information and the main idea of the recording will be assessed. You will need to understand the conversation in the recording and relationship and connections between facts in the given text.

Do give a try to this IELTS listening practice test:

 Reading test


Duration : 60 minutes

Number of questions : 40

Task : The Reading test will consist of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. This includes reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical arguments and recognizing writers opinions and purpose.

Marks : Each question is worth one mark.

How are the IELTS Academic reading test and General reading test different?

The IELTS Academic test has topics suitable for anyone entering universities or professional institutes. However, the IELTS General test includes topics based on general interest.

Click on this link to practice some of General IELTS Reading test –


Duration : 60 minutes

No. of questions : 2

Task 1 : You will be presented  with a graph, table, chart, diagram to summarize or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data.

Task 2 : You will be asked to write an answer in response to the view, arguments or problems.

Both tasks should have a formal response.


Duration : 11 -15 MINUTES

No. of parts : 4 parts of the speaking test 

Each test is recorded.

PART 1 ( 4 – 5 minutes)

 The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics such as home, family, work, studies and interest.

PART 2 ( 2 minutes)

You will be given a card which asks to talk on a particular topic. You will be given a minute to prepare for the topic. After you have finished speaking, the examiner will ask you a question or two.

PART 3 ( 4 – 5 minutes)

You will be asked further questions about the topic in part 2. These questions will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.

In the Speaking test, Candidates are mistaken that accents are also part of the test. But the speaking test only checks your English language proficiency, fluency, understanding of the language, clarity and grammar. 

Speaking test turns out to be the most challenging part of IELTS for many students.  Read this blog to improve your spoken English for the IELTS Exam.

IELTS demands top notch preparations. A right mentor can guide you and lead you to the best way to prepare for the test. Listening, speaking, reading and writing requires different strategies. When it comes to speaking, EngVarta has made sure to provide a complete English practice environment where students are able to speak unconsciously without the fear of being judged by anyone. 

Good wishes for your IELTS Exam preparations !

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