IELTS exam pattern comprises four sections – writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. There are two types of IELTS – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The total duration of IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes. IELTS exam syllabus comprises four-section – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. IELTS reading, writing and listening are conducted on the same day whereas IELTS Speaking can be scheduled on the afternoon of the test day or within a week.
What is the passing score for IELTS?
There is no minimum passing score for IELTS. Each university has a different IELTS band score threshold for admissions. IELTS Test Report Form (TRF) is issued for everyone with a score range of 1-9. If a test-taker fails to appear for IELTS then band 0 will be issued as the result. IELTS pattern is designed for two different sets of people, the contents of the sections are a bit different. IELTS pattern for the reading and writing sections of each format is different. The sources of passages of IELTS reading are different for IELTS academic and IELTS general training. The IELTS writing tasks are also much different and purpose-oriented for the candidates. 76% of candidates take IELTS academic test and only 24% take the general training. So, it is not difficult to understand that it is more popular among the candidates who are willing to studying abroad.
Also Check IELTS Academic vs General Training
IELTS Exam Pattern: Section Wise Details
Each section has a weightage of 25% and each section contributes equally towards the overall score of IELTS.
IELTS Listening Pattern
The IELTS Listening section comprises four tasks to be completed. In a task, there will be 1 recording with 10 questions. In total, there will be 40 questions and the total time is 30 minutes. Candidates will be given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to the answer sheet.
- Section 1: 10 questions (General conversation between 2 English natives)
- Section 2: 10 questions (Monologue on the general topic)
- Section 3: 10 questions (Conversation between 2-4 people around academics)
- Section 4: 10 questions (Monologue on an academic topic)
IELTS listening test questions include:
- Multiple choice
- Plan, map, diagram labeling
- Form, note, table, flowchart, summary completion
- Sentence completion
- Short-answer questions
These questions check how the candidates are focused on the details, and their ability to fetch details as well as their understanding of visual details, key information, and concrete facts, For IELTS academic and general training, there is no difference for this section.
IELTS pattern for the speaking section is quite easy. The speaking section is like a face-to-face interview between the test taker and the examiner. In IELTS Speaking, grammar, accuracy, coherence and fluency, lexical resources, and pronunciation of each candidate are assessed in 11-14 minutes. Most IELTS Speaking Topics are general in type. Candidates can practice these topics listed on the official website of IELTS.
- Test takers have to complete 3 tasks in this section
- In Task 1, the test-taker has to give a general introduction like education, home, family, and work. Time: 4-5minutes.
- The test-taker has to pick up a task card for choosing a topic to talk about with the examiner for Task 2. Time: 3-4 minutes (including preparation time).
- In Task 3, the examiner will discuss whatever said by the test taker in Task 2. Time: 4-5 minutes.
- These tasks check the ability of the candidates to communicate their views on everyday topics, any given topic, and the ability to justify what they have said.
This section is also the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.
IELTS Reading Pattern
For IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, the reading section is different for test-takers. Test takers get 60 minutes to complete this section of IELTS Reading. 40 questions to be answered in this section.
For IELTS Academic Reading, the reading passages are of medium length and they are taken from journals, books, magazines, and newspapers. The writing style of most of these reading excerpts ranging from descriptive, factual, discursive, and analytical. In all these passages, a test-taker has to recognize the purpose, attitude, or opinions present in writers behind writing these.
For IELTS General Training Reading, 3 sections are the excerpts from newspapers, books, magazines, guidelines, advertisements, handbooks, and notices. For Task 1, the test-taker has to write about “social survival”. For Task 2, the test-taker has to write about “workplace survival” and for Task 3 it is a general reading passage with a little complex structure.
IELTS reading question types include:
- Multiple choice
- Identifying information
- Identifying the writer’s views/claims
- Matching information
- Matching headings
- Matching features
- Matching sentence endings
- Sentence completion
- Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion
- Diagram label completion
- Short-answer questions
As the types of passages are different in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, the difficulty levels are also different. These tasks also check the candidate’s focus on detail and their skills of understanding relationships between two factors and analytical skills.
IELTS Writing Pattern
Like IELTS Reading, IELTS Writing is different for both Academic and General Training test takers. In this section, test takers have to complete 2 tasks in 60 minutes. For IELTS writing task 1, candidates have to write 150 words in 20 minutes and for IELTS Writing task 2, candidates have to write 250 words in 40 minutes.
For the IELTS Academic Writing Test, the test-takers need to skim and scan the reading passages to find out important facts present within passages.
- For Task 1, the test taker gets a minimum of 20 minutes. The word limit to complete Task 1 is 150 words.
- Similarly, for Task 2, the test-taker gets a minimum time of 40 minutes. The word limit for the 2nd task is 250 words.
Every piece of information should be relevant enough to complete a writing task. Test takers should write down all the important information given through graphical representation. Examiners mark the test takers on basis of 4-5 criteria like task achievement or task response, coherence, lexical resource, and grammatical accuracy.
The duration, word limit, and marking criteria are the same in the IELTS general training writing section. Here Task 1 is a letter-writing but in IELTS academic, task 1 is a description of a graph or chart. For Task 1, the test-taker has to write in a formal, semi-formal, or personal format. Task 2 (essay) will be personal in style.
IELTS Preparation Tips
- Before attempting IELTS, beware of the exam format properly
- Start reading English novel or newspaper or magazine to improve vocabulary
- Learn new words to strengthen your vocabulary
- Incorporate new words and proper usage of grammar in writing sections
- Watching regular news and interviews in English and English movies will help in improving listening and speaking skills
- Speak in English to gather confidence
- Practice writing daily to reduce spelling mistakes
- Strict time management will help the test taker to attempt questions properly
- Regular mock tests will help in scoring well in each section
- Focus on understanding every section rather than memorizing
- Attempt all questions as there is no negative marking
No matter you are looking for a career in English-speaking countries or study there, IELTS is necessary to qualify. Have excellent preparation for IELTS and see your dreams come true.
Check IELTS Sample Papers
IELTS Exam Pattern FAQs
Ques. Is there a passing score for IELTS?
Ans. No, there is no passing score in IELTS. IELTS scores 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
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.