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What is IELTS Exam?

What Is IELTS Exam?

The acronym IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. The testing system is owned by multiple entities and they are British Council, Cambridge Assessment English, and IDP: IELTS.

The result of IELTS is reported on a band scale. The scores can be between 0-9.

  • 0 score is awarded to those who do not make any attempt to answer the questions.
  • Score 1 indicates the candidate is unable to use the language.
  • Score 2 indicates the candidate lacks proficiency in understanding spoken English and written English.
  • Score 3 indicates that the test taker can only understand some general meaning and convey a few words in English.
  • Score 4 indicates that the test taker is unable to use and understand complex words in English.
  • Score 5 indicates that the test taker is capable of handling basic communications in English.
  • Score 6 indicates that the test taker is capable of understanding complex use of English in a familiar situation.
  • Score 7 indicates that the test taker is capable of understanding complex language usage in English and is also capable of speaking the complex language in English.
  • Score 8 indicates that the test taker has a good command over the language, Score 9; the highest score indicates that the test taker has complete command over the English language.

What is the IELTS exam used for?

The IELTS test is usually taken by non-native English speakers who wish to take admission to universities overseas, especially in native-English speaking countries. Apart from academic purposes, the test is also taken by those who wish to migrate abroad for work purposes.

The IELTS is recognised by many reputed overseas companies, universities and schools.

IELTS Exam Pattern

Academic and General Training are the two types of IELTS exams. Both these types have the same listening and speaking section. However, both types differ in writing and reading sections. The 2 hours 45 minutes long IELTS exam has four sections – reading, listening, speaking and writing.


The time duration for the listening section is 30 minutes. The section requires the candidates to listen to four recordings by speakers belonging native-English speaking nations. Recording 1 contains a dialogue between two speakers, recording 2 is a monologue, recording 3 is a conversation among four speakers regarding academic context, and recording 4 is a monologue on an educational subject.

Ten questions come from each recording leading to a total number of 40 questions in the listening section.


The time duration for the speaking section is 11 minutes to 14 minutes. This section assesses the English speaking capabilities of candidates. The speaking section is divided into three parts.

In Part 1, the candidate is asked questions about the candidate and related topics such as the family of the candidate, the home of the candidate, the interests and passion that the candidate shares, academic background and so on. It takes four minutes to five minutes to complete part 1.

In Part 2, the candidates are given a task card with a topic that the candidates are supposed to talk about for the assessment. The candidates are given a minute to take preparation before beginning the talk. The candidates are provided with a paper and pencil in this part for the purpose of taking notes. The duration of the entire part 2 usually varies between three minutes to four minutes.

In Part 3, the candidates are required to carry forward the talk related to the topic given to the candidate in part 2 but in a more abstract manner and in-depth.

As mentioned earlier in the blog, the pattern of the test differs for the IELTS Academic and for the IELTS General Training.

Academic Reading

The time duration for the reading section in IELTS Academic is 1 hour. The number of questions asked in this section amounts to 40. The candidates are given three reading passages. The type of the questions include multiple-choice, identifying information – the candidates will have to identify whether the information given in the given statements match with the passages or not, identification of the claim and views of the writer – the candidates are required to identify whether some of the given statements as part of the questions identify with the claims of the writer, matching, summary completion and so on.

General Training Reading

This section comprises three parts. Section 1 consists of two to three or several short texts, section 2 comprise two texts and the section comprises a single long test. Like IELTS Academic, the time duration of the general training reading section is also an hour and the number of questions asked in this section amounts to 40. The type of questions is usually matching, MCQ types, and identification of information.

Academic Writing

There are two parts of Academic Writing. The entire section takes an hour to complete.

In Task 1, the candidates are required to provide a description of visual information using academic language. The visual information can be in the form of a diagram, a graph, a chart, or a table. The candidates are required to write 150 words on the visual information in time duration of 20 minutes.

In Task 2, the candidates are required to write on a specific point of view, an argument. The word limit for part 2 is 250 and the time duration for this part is 40 minutes. Writing answers in bullet form or notes are not accepted in this section.

General Training Writing

This section is divided into parts – Task 1 and Task 2.

In Task 1, the candidates write a letter of a minimum of 150 words as a response to a situation that is given to the candidates. The format of the letter can be formal, informal or semi-formal.

In task 2, the test takers or the candidates are required to write an essay discussing a given point of view or a given argument. The format of the essay can be a neutral discursive essay or a semi-formal discursive essay. The candidates are required to express themselves using a minimum of 250

words. The time duration for the general training writing section is an hour.

Preparation for IELTS Exam

Clarity and understanding of the pattern

The candidates require clarity and understanding related to the format and pattern of the test in order to prepare well for the exam. The candidates should also familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations related to the exam. The candidates can get access to the rules and regulations related to the exam ‘In the Notice to candidates and Declaration’ section given in the application form.

Sample test question

The candidates can practice using the sample test questions. Practising with the sample test questions would help the candidates in getting clarity regarding the types of questions that are likely to come, the candidates would also gain clarity regarding what areas in their preparation need improvement. The candidates can take the official practise test prepared by the IELTS. IELTS progress check is the name of the official IELTS practice test. The candidates can opt for both timed tests and untimed tests. The test package comes with feedback on each section. The candidates get an individual band score and an overall band score.

Practice materials

Official IELTS practise materials contain practice tests for all the sections, sample speaking tests by candidates with comments from the examiners, answer keys and other relevant materials. The test materials come in a DVD format. The candidates can get access to this material from Cambridge University Press and IELTS test centres.

Preparation Course

Many language centres or schools and IELTS centres offer preparation courses for IELTS. An interested candidate can join such courses as part of IELTS preparation.

Application Process for IELTS EXAM

There are three main steps to the IELTS application process. The application process can be completed online or through the mail. In the first step, a candidate needs to find the nearest test centre from which the candidate wants to take the test. In the next step, the candidates who want to complete the process online can register for the exam on the official website of IELTS and pay for the test online, the candidates who want to apply through mail can download the application form from the official website and can fill in the print-out of the form and mail that form to the test centre from which the candidate wants to take the test. The candidates are required to present an identity proof document in this step. The candidates are supposed to carry the same ID proof to the centre.  In the last step of the process, the candidates get a written confirmation from the test centre and it includes the date and time of the test.

IELTS Exam Date

IELTS exam takes place four times a month. In a year, the IELTS academic exam is offered on 48 official dates. However, for IELTS general training, 24 days are offered.

The test for the reading, listening and writing section is offered on the same day. However, the test for the speaking section is offered a week prior or a week after the test date.

IELTS Exam Fee The fees for the test differ depending on the type of the test. However, the fee for the test is generally around Rs 14700.

IELTS exam is designed for those who want to study abroad in native English speaking countries or want to travel to native English speaking countries for work purposes. Many universities around the world determine the proficiency of students in the English language based on the IELTS score. IELTS score is reported on a 9-band scale. There are two types of IELTS exams – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both the types have four sections – reading, listening, speaking and writing. The fee for the test is around Rs14700 and IELTS academic is offered 48 days in a year whereas IELTS general training is offered 24 days in a year.  The candidates can register or apply for the exam through the official website of IELTS or by mail.

Previous articleWhat is TOEFL Exam?


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