To help universities and colleges select students with sufficient English skills to succeed in their courses, The IELTS test was introduced in 1989 to assess “whether candidates are ready to train in the medium of English”. It is now used for this purpose around the globe.
Depending in the course of study that students plan to take, students must elect to sit either the Academic IELTS test or the General Training IELTS test. This choice must be made when applying to sit the test. The Academic IELTS test is necessary for students who plan to study at university (undergraduate or postgraduate courses), and will test the student’s ability both to understand and to use complex academic language. The General Training IELTS test is required by other institutions, such as colleges and high schools, for courses that require less complex language skills, and is also as a general test of English proficiency e.g. for immigration purposes in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The Test Format
There are four sub-tests, or modules, to the IELTS test: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Students must sit all four sub-tests. While all students take the same Listening and Speaking tests, they sit different Reading and Writing tests, depending on whether they have selected the Academic IELTS test or the General Training IELTS test.
On the day of the test, the four subsections will be taken in the following order:
IELTS Test Structure
Total Test Time
2 hours 45 minutes
The Speaking test may even take place a day or two later at some centers.
IELTS listening Test lasts for about 30 minutes. It consists of four sections, played on cassette tape, in order of increasing difficulty. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. The test is played once only, and the questions for each section must be answered while listening, although time is given for students to check their answers.
IELTS Reading Test lasts for 60 minutes. Students are given an Academic Reading test, or a General Training Reading test. Both tests consist of three sections, and in both tests the sections are in order of increasing difficulty
IELTS Writing Test also lasts for 60 minutes. Again, students take either an Academic test, or a General Training test. Students must perform two writing tasks, which require different styles of writing. There is no choice of question topics.
IELTS Speaking Test consists of a one-to-one interview with a specially trained examiner. The examiner will lead the candidate through the three parts of the test:
An introduction and interview, an individual long turn where the candidate speaks for one or two minutes on a particular topic, and a two-way discussion thematically linked to the individual long turn. This interview will last for approximately 11-14 minutes.