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IELTS Academic Test Format Required for Study Abroad

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Sayantani Barman

Study Abroad Expert | Updated On -Jun 15, 2021

IELTS Academic measures the level of English language proficiency required for academic purpose. Whether for study or visa, candidates take IELTS conducted by British Council and IDP Education. Countries that recognize IELTS scores are Canada, the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. The main difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training is its Reading and Writing sections. 6.5 band score in each section will land you in any desired academic program across the world. IELTS Academic is required for 

  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies across the world 
  • Tier 4 Student Visa (UK) at the university 
  • Working in foreign countries 

IELTS Academic Mean Performance

As per data available for IELTS, it is noticed that IELTS Academic is taken by a larger section of candidates as compared to IELTS General Training. Mostly the test takers want to travel to English speaking nations to achieve a better future. Compared to employment purposes, test takers write IELTS Academic for pursuing academic excellence in English speaking nations. 


As the graph mentioned above, female test-takers score better in all sections as compared to male test-takers. Every year, thousands of students take IELTS Academic for securing admission to the best universities in the world. As per data collected, the mean score band for IELTS Academic is 6.1. To get admission into the best universities of UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or USA, the test takers have to score a minimum 0f 7 out of 9. It is also seen in the writing section in IELTS Academic, the test takers score the least. Before appearing for IELTS, one should have a proper IELTS Preparation schedule. One requires a minimum of 6 months to score well in IELTS. Focus on weak sections for better improvement. 

Is IELTS General harder than Academic? 

Any candidate getting 30 out of 40 in IELTS General Training Reading is as good as getting 23 out of 40 in IELTS Academic reading. Both this score range is converted to an IELTS Band of 6 out on a scale of 9. Both the speaking and listening sections in IELTS academic and general training are the same. 

Check   IELTS Academic vs General Training

IELTS Academic Exam Pattern

There are four components in IELTS exam pattern - Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. In both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, listening and speaking components are similar. Writing and Reading components differ due to their approach. The total duration of exam is 2hrs 45mnts. There are a total of four components in IELTS Academic.

IELTS Academic Listening

IELTS Academic listening section is same as that of General Training. There are four sections in IELTS Academic listening part as follows 

  • 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) 
  • 40 questions to be answered in 30 minutes 

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 to English content. It is a major reason to score the best in IELTS listening

IELTS Academic Listening Score

IELTS band score conversion table is presented at the end of IELTS Academic. There are 40 questions in this section. Each question carries 1 mark. Therefore, IELTS Academic Listening score out of 40 will be converted into 9 band scale. The test taker will be marked out of 9. Grammatical and spelling mistakes will be penalized. 

IELTS Academic Speaking

IELTS Academic Speaking measures the spoken English skills of the test taker. The total time allotted for IELTS Academic speaking section is 11-14minutes. Examiners measure the skills of candidates on four criteria- accuracy and usage of grammar, coherence and fluency, lexical resource, and pronunciation. Each criterion has a weightage value of 25%

  • There are 3 parts to this section 
  • In Part 1, questions are asked on general introduction like family, home, studies, work 
  • 4-5 minutes are allotted for Part 1 
  • In Part 2, test takers have to talk about a topic given through a task card
  • 3-4 minutes (including preparation time) test takers have to spend for Part 2
  • In Part 3, the examiner will discuss issues with the test-taker related to Part 2 
  • 4-5 minutes are allotted for Part 3 


IELTS Academic Speaking Score

IELTS Academic Speaking section is marked on four criteria mentioned before. Examiners will mark on the speech given by the test taker. Each criterion carries 25% of the total mark. Test takers are marked on basis of usage of vocabulary, correct grammar, coherence and fluency, lexical resource and pronunciation. 

Check IELTS Academic Speaking Score

IELTS Academic Writing

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 and Task 2 together constitute IELTS Academic writing section. Sections have been described in details below

  • 2 writing tasks to be completed in 60 minutes 
  • In IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, test takers have to visual information comprehended through the chart, diagram or graph. 
  • In 20 minutes, test takers have to complete IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 in 150 words 
  • In IELTS Academic Writing Task 2, test takers have to respond to a point of view or problem or argument from the given topic 
  • In 40 minutes, test takers have to complete IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 in 250 words 

IELTS Academic Writing Score

In IELTS Academic writing section, both tasks carry different weightage. Examiners mark the test takers after assessing responses given to questions. This section is marked on basis of four criteria- task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resources, and correct usage of grammar. Marks are given either in half bands or whole bands. 


IELTS Academic Reading

IELTS Academic reading is designed to measure the wide spectrum of reading skills of the candidates. Passages are discursive, analytical, and factual in nature. Most IELTS Academic Reading passages are selected appropriately for those applying to universities. 

  • 3 reading passages taken from journals, newspapers, books, or magazines. 
  • 40 questions to be answered in 60 minutes 
  • Mostly 11 kinds of task type will have to answer like- MCQ, Identifying information, Identifying writer’s opinions, Matching information, Matching heading, Matching features, Matching sentence endings, Sentence completion, Summary or flow chart completion, Diagram label completion, and short answer questions

IELTS Academic Reading Score

In IELTS Academic Reading, test takers have to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes. Examiners measure the analytical, logical, and deductive skills of the test takers. After marking, Cambridge Assessment English further analyzes the scoring band. Scores are given out of 40 which is later converted to an IELTS score band of 9.

Check IELTS Academic Reading Score

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


yash raj singh
What is the syllabus of IELTS Academic?
diya suresh

IELTS Academic syllabus has 4 sections of reading, writing, listening and speaking with syllabus as follows:

  • IELTS writing has 2 sections of writing task 1 and writing task 2 with total duration of 60 minutes
  • IELTS Reading has 3 long passages with 40 questions
  • IELTS listening has 4 recordings with duration of 30 minutes
  • IELTS speaking has 3 parts of Introduction, Long Turn and Discussion

Find more details at IELTS Syllabus 2021.

What are the important topics of IELTS Academic?
diya suresh

There will be  4 sections and details are as follows:

  • Listening: 4 sections with 10 questions each
  • Speaking: 3 parts
  • Writing: 2 writing tasks
  • Reading: 3 passages with 40 questions in total

You need to score individually in all sections for calculating overall score.

I have done in 2014 with 75 % ,,,, can I eligible for this exm
diya suresh

Different countries have different set of eligibilities that must be qualified. Please specify the country you are interested in so as to get accurate answer. IELTS is exam goiven for those who wish to get admission or work in english speaking nations.

uma goenka
Is the syllabus of the IELTS Academic exam and general training the same?
aditi arun

Hello Uma,

As these two formats are meant for two different sets of candidates, the content of the syllabus varies a bit. To know more about the syllabus and have a detailed comparison, kindly visit – IELTS Syllabus