Tips for the test

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What's in the IELTS Listening test?

The test has four sections, with ten questions in each section. The questions are in the same order as the information in the recording, so the answer to the first question will be before the answer to the second question, and so on.

Sections 1 and 2 deal with everyday, social situations. There is a conversation between two speakers in Section 1 (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements). Only one person speaks in Section 2 (for example, a speech about local facilities).

Sections 3 and 4 deal with educational and training situations. In Section 3 there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor). In Section 4 only one person speaks on an academic subject.

You will hear the recordings once only. Different accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand and North American, are used.

You will need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. You will have 10 minutes at the end of the test to do this. You should be careful when writing your answers on the answer sheet because you will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Time allowed:

Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet)

Number of sections:

4

Number of questions:

40

Marking:

Each correct answer receives 1 mark.
Your final score is given as a band score in whole or half bands, e.g. 5.5 or 7.0.

What's in the IELTS Academic Reading test?
There are three reading texts with a variety of question types.

Texts come from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources, written for a non-specialist audience. All the topics are of general interest to students at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The texts may be written in different styles, for example, narrative, descriptive or discursive/argumentative. At least one text contains detailed logical argument. Texts may also contain diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts use technical vocabulary, then a simple dictionary definition is provided.

You will need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. You must transfer your answers during the hour you are given for the Reading test. Unlike the Listening test, no extra transfer time is given. You should be careful when writing your answers on the answer sheetbecause you will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Summary

Time allowed:

60 minutes (including transfer time)

Number of sections:

3; the total text length is 2,150–2,750 words

Number of questions:

40

Marking:

Each correct answer receives 1 mark.
Your final score is given as a band score from 1–9 in whole or half bands, e.g. 4, 6.5.

What's in the IELTS General Training Reading test?

There are three sections of increasing difficulty. Section 1 may contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts. Section 2 contains two texts. In Section 3, there is one long text.

The texts in Section 1 deal with everyday topics, and they are the sort of texts that a person would need to be able to understand when living in an English-speaking country. You will need to pick out important information, e.g. from notices, advertisements and timetables. The texts in Section 2 focus on work topics, for example, job descriptions, contracts, staff development and training materials. The text in Section 3 deals with a topic of general interest. The style of writing in Section 3 is generally descriptive (containing detailed information) and instructive (telling you how to do something). This Section 3 text is longer and more complex than the texts in Sections 1 and 2. Section 3 texts are taken from newspapers, magazines, books and online resources.

You will need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. You must transfer your answers during the hour you are given for the Reading test. Unlike the Listening test, no extra transfer time is given. You should be careful when writing your answers on the answer sheet because you will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Summary

Time allowed:

60 minutes (including transfer time)

Number of sections:

3 the total text length is 2,150–2,750 words

Number of questions:

40

Marking:

Each correct answer receives 1 mark.
Your final score is given as a band score from 1–9 in whole or half bands, e.g. 3, 8.5.

Question types - AC Writing

What's in the IELTS Academic Writing test?

There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.

In Task 1, you have to describe some visual information in your own words (a graph, table, chart or diagram). You need to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

In Task 2, you are given a point of view, argument or problem which you need to discuss. You need to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.

You must write your answers using full sentences. You must not write your answers as notes or bullet points. You must write your answers on the answer sheet. You are allowed to write notes on the question paper, but these will not be seen by the examiner.

Marking

Certificated IELTS examiners assess your performance on each Writing task. There are four assessment criteria (things which the examiner thinks about when deciding what score to give you):

  • - Task achievement/response
  • - Coherence and cohesion
  • - Lexical resource
  • - Grammatical range and accuracy.

Task achievement (in Task 1) and Task response (in Task 2) assesses how accurately, appropriately and relevantly your response covers the task requirements, using the minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2.

In Task 1, all the information you require is given in the diagram.

In Task 2, Task response includes how well you develop your argument in response to the task, giving evidence and examples which may be from your own experience.

Coherence and cohesion assesses how clear and fluent your writing is, and how you organise ideas and information. It includes giving your ideas in a logical order, and using a range of cohesive devices (for example, linking words, pronouns and conjunctions, etc.) appropriately.

Lexical resource assesses the range of vocabulary you have used, and how accurately and appropriately you use it.

Grammatical range and accuracy assesses the range of grammar you have used and how accurately and appropriately you have used it.

Summary

Time allowed:

60 minutes

Number of tasks:

2

Marking:

Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.

Question types - GT Writing

What's in the IELTS General Training Writing test?

There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.

In Task 1, you have to respond to a situation by writing a letter, for example, asking for information or explaining a situation. You need to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

In Task 2, you are given a point of view, argument or problem which you need to discuss. You need to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.

You must write your answers using full sentences. You must not write your answers as notes or bullet points. You must write your answers on the answer sheet. You are allowed to write notes on the question paper but these will not be seen by the examiner.

Marking

Certificated IELTS examiners assess your performance on each Writing task. There are four assessment criteria (things which the examiner thinks about when deciding what score to give you):

  • - Task achievement/response
  • - Coherence and cohesion
  • - Lexical resource
  • - Grammatical range and accuracy.

Task achievement (in Task 1) and Task response (in Task 2) assesses how accurately, appropriately and relevantly your response covers the task requirements, using the minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2.

In Task 1, Task achievement refers to how well your letter achieves its purpose.

In Task 2, Task response includes how well you develop your argument in response to the task, giving evidence and examples which may be from your own experience.

Coherence and cohesion assesses how clear and fluent your writing is, and how you organise ideas and information. It includes giving your ideas in a logical order, and using a range of cohesive devices (for example, linking words, pronouns and conjunctions, etc.) appropriately.

Lexical resource assesses the range of vocabulary you have used, and how accurately and appropriately you use it.

Grammatical range and accuracy assesses the range of grammar you have used and how accurately and appropriately you have used it.

Summary

Time allowed:

60 minutes

Number of tasks:

2

Marking:

Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.

Question types - Speaking

What's in the IELTS Speaking test?

The Speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the candidate and an examiner. The Speaking test is recorded.

There are three parts to the test, and each part follows a specific pattern of tasks in order to test your speaking ability in different ways.

Marking

Certificated IELTS examiners assess your speaking performance throughout the test. There are four assessment criteria (things which the examiner thinks about when deciding what score to give you):

  • - Fluency and coherence
  • - Lexical resource
  • - Grammatical range and accuracy
  • - Pronunciation.

Fluency and coherence assesses how well you can speak at a normal speed without too much hesitation. It also includes putting your sentences and ideas in a logical order and using cohesive devices (including linking words, pronouns and conjunctions, etc.) appropriately so that what you say is not difficult to follow.

Lexical resource assesses the range of vocabulary you use and how accurately and appropriately you use vocabulary to express meaning. It also includes the ability to express yourself using alternative vocabulary when you don't know a particular word.

Grammatical range and accuracy assesses the range of grammar you use and how accurately and appropriately you use it.

Pronunciation assesses your ability to speak in a way which can be understood without too much effort.

Summary

Time allowed:

11–14 minutes

Number of parts: