IELTS 2020 PATTERN & SYLLABUS

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    IELTS Exam Pattern: Section wise Details

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    IELTS is conducted by British Council or IDP in India to test English Language Proficiency of the test takers. In IELTS there are two exam patterns- Academic and General Training. Test takers are measured on skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

    • IELTS can be taken in both paper delivered and computer-delivered patterns. Check IELTS Registration
    • IELTS Academic is for those who want to pursue higher education in English speaking nations
    • IELTS General Training is for those who want to migrate to English speaking nations for employment opportunities
    • Exam tasks in IELTS have different levels of complexity varying from low to high.

    Important IELTS Exam Pattern Highlights

    IELTS Pattern Details 
    Total Raw Score in 3 sections- Reading, Listening and Writing80
    Number of Questions 2 (in Academic and General Training Writing); 3 (Speaking); 40 (Listening) and 40 (in Academic and General Training Reading) 
    Total Time 2hrs 45 minutes 
    No. of sections 
    Time Per Section IELTS Listening- 30 minutes
    IELTS Reading (General)- 60 minutes 
    IELTS Reading (Academic)- 60 minutes
    IELTS Writing (General)- 60 minutes 
    IELTS Writing (Academic)- 60 minutes
    IELTS Speaking- 11-14 minutes 
    Questions Per Section IELTS Speaking: 3 tasks
    IELTS Reading (General Training): 40 questions 
    IELTS Reading (Academic): 40 questions 
    IELTS Listening: 4 tasks 
    Marks per Question 1 mark per question for both IELTS Listening and Reading section 

    IELTS Listening

    This section is conducted to check the listening ability of the candidate. Test taker has to answer 40 questions within a stipulated time period of 30 minutes. In IELTS Listening section, there are 4 tasks to be completed. Audio clips will be provided to the test takers and audio can be played only once.

    • Section 1: 10 questions (General conversation between 2 English natives)
    • Section 2: 10 questions (Monologue on general topic)
    • Section 3: 10 questions (Conversation between 2-4 people around academics)
    • Section 4: 10 questions (Monologue on academic topic)
    • 40 questions to be answered in 30 minutes
    Task typeTask details (format)Task focus
    Type 1 (Multiple choice)The test taker has to choose 1 option correct from the three options A, B, and C as was given. The correct sentence ending has to be selected.Complete understanding of the task is required.
    Type 2 (Matching)Answers have to be marked in the question paper. Many variations of the questions are possible.Detailed analyses of the listening skill are done, the ability to understand the description is tested and able to check the connection between the objects is checked.
    Type 3 (Plan, map, diagram labeling)The ability to complete the visuals from the recording heard is checked. A set of pictures are given and the candidate has to select the right kind of diagram from the set given and mark it in the answer sheet.Ability to complete the visual details on the basis of the auditory recording.
    Type 4 (Form, note, table, flowchart, summary completion)A variety is possible in the case. The ability to complete the exact “word” details is checked. The details may be numeric, directive or inductive in nature. The answer to be marked on the answer sheet. The marks are awarded for the exactly correct word or number.The main information that is gathered by the candidate naturally in the scenarios.
    Type 5 (Sentence completion)The completion of the sentence has to be done using one word/number. A part of the sentence is given. The other part has to be completed. The penalty is there if more than one word/number is writtenAbility to identify the key information
    Type 6 (Short-answer questions)The phrase has to be written just to complete the sentence. The group of 3 words/numbers has to be written on the basis of the recording heard. The penalty is charged for more words.Ability to listen to the concrete facts- such as places, prices or time is checked

    Test takers have to listen to pre-recorded recordings to answer these sections. Questions can be MCQ type, fill in the blanks, flowcharts, or tables. In India, an individual is well acquainted with listening English content. It is a major reason to score the best in a listening band.

    IELTS Speaking

    This section is like a face to face interview between the test taker and examiner. Total time allotted for IELTS Speaking is 11-14 minutes. Examiners mark the test takers on presence of skills like usage of grammar, accuracy, coherence and fluency, lexical resource and pronunciation. For each criterion, test taker will have a weightage value of 25%.

    • Test takers have to complete 3 tasks in this section
    • In Task 1, test taker has to give a general introduction like education, home, family and work
    • For Task 1, test taker gets 4-5minutes
    • Test taker has to pick up a task card for choosing a topic to talk about with the examiner for Task 2
    • For Task 2, test taker gets 3-4 minutes (including preparation time)
    • In Task 3, the examiner will discuss whatever said by the test taker in Task 2.
    • For Task 3, test taker gets 4-5 minutes

    IELTS Reading

    Test takers get 60 minutes to complete this section of IELTS Reading. For IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, reading section is different for test-takers. 40 questions to be answered after reading 3 passages taken from different books, newspapers, magazines, handbooks or advertisements. Examiners measure comprehensible skills of the test taker.

    IELTS Academic Reading: This section consists of 3 reading passages of medium length taken from journals, books, magazines, and newspapers. Writing style of most of these reading excerpts ranging from descriptive, factual, discursive and analytical. In all these passages, test taker has to recognize the purpose, attitude or opinions present in writers behind writing these.

    IELTS General Training Reading: This section comprises 3 sections. Most of these excerpts are taken from newspapers, books, magazines, guidelines, advertisements, handbooks, and notices. For Task 1, test taker has to write about “social survival”. For Task 2, test taker has to write about “workplace survival” and for Task 3 it is a general reading passage with a little complex structure.

    IELTS Writing

    This section like IELTS Reading is different for both Academic and General Training test takers. In this section, test takers have to complete 2 tasks in 60 minutes. Word limit for Task 1 is 150 words and Task 2 is 250 words respectively.

    IELTS Academic Writing Test

    Test takers must skim and scan the reading passages to find out important facts present within passages. Test takers should be conscious enough to find out every detail available in paragraphs. For Task 1, the test taker gets a minimum of 20 minutes. Every piece of information should be relevant enough to complete a writing task. Test takers should write down all important information given through graphical representation. Word limit to complete Task 1 is 150 words. Similarly for Task 2, test taker gets a minimum time of 40 minutes. Word limit for the 2nd task is 250 words. Examiners mark the test takers on basis of 4-5 criteria like Task Achievement or Task Response, Coherence, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Accuracy. To achieve each criterion, the examiner marks 25% of total marks to the test taker.

    Task TypeTask details (format)Task focus
    Type 1(Multiple choice)The candidate has to select the best answer from the 4 options/ best 2 answers from the 5 options/ best 3 answers from the 7 option. The answers will appear in the order they are given in the choices. The candidate has to complete the stem given.All round testing of reading skill
    Type 2 (Identifying information)The true/false/not given are the three choices given in the IELTS answer sheet. The candidate has to analyze the nature of passage and then answer the question. Just to note that “false” is different from “not given” option. By “false” they mean that the question is opposite in nature to what is asked in the passage. By “not given” they mean that the data is not provided in the passage.Ability to identify the key points.
    Type 3(Identifying writer’s views/claims)The options are yes/no/not given. The choice is on the basis of the answer to the question “Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer”. Yes means complete agreement. “no” means the view is opposite to what is expressed in the passage. “not given” means that you cannot reach a conclusion as the views are neither confirmed nor contradicted. The ability to identify the main opinion is tested. These types of questions test the discursive or argumentative texts.
    Type 4(Matching information)Use to identify more than one piece of information from the given set of information. The information can be located in multiple paragraphs. The use of alphabets is allowed in such cases.The ability to identify the general information is tested as opposed to the main idea.
    Type 5(Matching heading)To identify the information related to the question has to be obtained from the paragraph. The letters will be used to mark the correct passage from which the information has been obtained. The letters have to be filled in the answer sheet.The ability to identify the main information.
    Type 6 (Matching features)The candidate has to match the information given in the two sets of columns. The information is present completely in the paragraph given.The ability to identify the relation between the information was given is tested.
    Type 7 (Matching sentence endings)The first half of the sentence is given and the second half has to be selected by the candidate. The information is present in the chronological order.Ability to identify the main idea.
    Type 8 (Sentence completion)The specific number of words like 2 or 3 can be used to complete the task given. The candidate has to complete the sentence in the word limit specified. The penalty is there if more words are used. Ability to identify the information as asked in the question is tested.
    Type 9 (Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion)The answers are to befilled in the format it is asked in the question. The answers will be in one section of the passage. The answers will appear in order. There can be two type of questions that are asked. The answers have to be completed in the defined number of words. The marks will be lost if more words are used to describe an answer. The answers can include the number, figures or words. If a list is given, single word answer has to be written.The ability to identify summary, notes, main idea and additional information are tested.
    Type 10 (Diagram label completion)The labels have to be completed on the basis of the description given in the text. The word limit is defined. The ability to identify the main information or relation to the same is tested.
    Type 11 (Short-answer questions)The questions are based on the facts given in the text. The answer has to be written in form of words or numbers as asked in the answer sheet. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words are not tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.Ability to identify the precise information is tested.

    IELTS General Training Writing Test

    Like IELTS Academic, test takers also have to attempt 2 tasks for IELTS General Training. Time allotted for this section is 60 minutes. Test taker gets 20 minutes to complete Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. Compared to Academic Writing, test taker has to write in a different format in this section. For Task 1, test taker has to write a letter in response to a situation in a formal or semi-formal or personal format. For Task 1, all information can be provided in graphical form. One has to find out all the necessary information presented there. Word limit for Task 1 is 150 words. For Task 2, test takers will have to devote 40 minutes for completion. Test takers should provide relevant information in this section in an accurate structure. Examiners mark the test takers on basis of 4-5 criteria like Task Achievement or Task Response, Coherence, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Accuracy. To achieve each criterion, the examiner marks 25% of total marks to the test taker.

    Task TypeTask details (format)Task focus
    Type 1(Multiple choice)The candidate has to select the best answer from the 4 options/ best 2 answers from the 5 options/ best 3 answers from the 7 option. The answers will appear in the order they are given in the choices. The candidate has to complete the stem given. Ability to understand the main as well as the subordinate information is tested.
    Type 2 (Identifying information)The true/false/not given are the three choices given in the IELTS answer sheet. The candidate has to analyze the nature of passage and then answer the question. Just to note that “false” is different from “not given” option. By “false” they mean that the question is opposite in nature to what is asked in the passage. By “not given” they mean that the data is not provided in the passage.Ability to identify the main information is tested.
    Type 3(Identifying writer’s views/claims)The options are yes/no/not given. The choice is on the basis of the answer to the question “Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer”. Yes means complete agreement. “no” means the view is opposite to what is expressed in the passage. “not given” means that you cannot reach a conclusion as the views are neither confirmed nor contradicted. The ability to identify the main opinion is tested. These types of questions test the discursive or argumentative texts.
    Type 4(Matching information)The crux information is provided on the answer sheet. The correct information crux has to be matched with each paragraph. The use of alphabets is allowed.The ability to match the correct idea is tested.
    Type 5(Matching heading)The heading is to be identified for each of the paragraphs given. The headings are given in sequence in the answer sheet.Ability to identify the crux of each paragraph in the text is tested and not the main theme.
    Type 6 (Matching features)Match the information given in the first column to the information given in the question. The best halves have to be matched. The questions may not appear in order.The ability to identify the relationship between the facts given in the text is tested.
    Type 7 (Matching sentence endingsThe first part of the text is given and the second has to be filled by the candidate.
    The best option from the list given has to be chosen.
    Ability to identify the main idea of the text is tested.
    Type 8 (Sentence completion)The test taker has to complete the text in the given number of words. The answer is in the text given. The upper limit defined on the word limit must be kept in mind.Ability to identify the main information is tested.
    Type 9 (Summary, note, table, flowchart completion)The summary has to be completed of the particular section of the text. Only one part of the text is tested. The information can be in the form of several connected sentences of text (referred to as a summary), several notes (referred to as notes), a table with some of its cells empty or partially empty (referred to as a table), a series of boxes or steps linked by arrows to show a sequence of events, with some of the boxes or steps empty or partially empty (referred to as a flow-chart). The answer has to be selected from the list given. The blanks are more than the words allowed as the text is descriptive in nature.Asses the main idea of the text and to convert it in the form of summary or notes.
    Type 10 (diagram label completion)The information has to be completed on the labels given on the diagram. Questions have to be answered in the defined number of words. Negative marking in case the words are more than the word limit. The task type is often descriptive in nature.Ability to convert the information flow from theory to the diagram.
    Type 11 (Short-answer questions)Questions are asked on the basis of the fact given in the text. The use of numbers or figures is allowed. Contracted words are not tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The answer has to be written in the word limit given.Ability to identify the precise information from the text is tested.

    IELTS: Preparation Tips

    Every year thousands of test takers write IELTS to opt for education or employment opportunities in English speaking nations. One should need a minimum of 6 months to score well in IELTS. To take admission in the top universities of the world, test takers should have a score band of 7-7.5. Preparation tips for IELTS to perform better in exam are as following

    • Start reading English novel or newspaper or magazine to improve vocabulary
    • Watching regular news in English will help in improving listening skills
    • Strict time management will help the test taker to attempt questions properly
    • Regular mock tests will help in scoring well in each section
    • Focus in understanding every section rather than memorizing
    • Practice writing essays in a strict time frame
    • Incorporate new words and proper usage of grammar in writing sections
    • As there is no negative marking, attempt all questions
    • Before attempting IELTS, know the exam format properly

    IELTS Exam Pattern FAQs

    Ques.  Is there a passing score for IELTS?

    Ans. No, there is no passing score in IELTS. IELTS score are reported in the form of band scores on a scale of 0 to 9, 9 being the highest. A brief about IELTS scores is as follows:

    • 9: Expert user
    • 8: Very good user
    • 7: Good user
    • 6: Competent user
    • 5: Modest user
    • 4: Limited user
    • 3: Extremely limited user
    • 2: Intermittent user
    • 1: Non-user
    • 0: Did not attempt the test

    Read More on IELTS Scoring Process

    Ques. Does my accent matter during the interview?

    Ans. No, as long as you communicate clearly, your accent won’t play a role in your scores. However, try to get familiar with different accents like British, American etc, as the interviewer can be of any origin and so instant understanding shall lead to a smooth conversation. 

    Ques. Is it allowed to take down notes during the listening test?

    Ans. Yes, candidates can make notes from the recordings during the listening test. 

    Ques.  Will the recordings in the listening text be replayed?

    Ans. No, recordings in the listening text will not be replayed and therefore candidates are requested to listen to the recordings carefully and take down notes when required.

    Ques.  Will there be negative marking?

    Ans. No, there is no negative marking in IELTS. However there are there are parameters that candidates are judged on and therefore candidates must adhere to the deadline. 

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College

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    Comments


    1 Comment
    A
    Arti

    How should I apply for ILETS ?

    29 May, 2018 00:20
    A
    Akansha Expert

    Hi Arti, you will get the information about Application IELTS Entrance Exam please check this link to get the full information about Application Procedure.

    29 May, 2018 13:26

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