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Choose the right test for you

There are two IELTS tests to choose from, depending on your needs – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic

  • list?.image?.titleFor higher education or professional registration
  • list?.image?.titleAssesses your English-language proficiency at an academic level

IELTS General Training

  • list?.image?.titleFor migration, work, or secondary studies
  • list?.image?.titleDeveloped to test your every-day, non-academic English

IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test has been developed if you wish to study at university or college as an undergraduate or postgraduate student or join or gain entry into a professional institution.

Find out which academic institutions and organisations accept IELTS here.

IELTS General Training

Don’t like taking academic tests? The good news is you may not need to.

The IELTS General Training test has been developed to test your every-day, non-academic English.

You may need the IELTS General Training test for entry into secondary education, a college or education training centre, or to migrate to an English speaking country.

IELTS test sections explained

The IELTS test has four sections: Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking.

  • The total time for the four sections is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

  • You take the Listening, Reading, and Writing tests on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

  • Your Speaking test may take place on the same day as the other tests or up to a week before or after the other tests, depending on your test centre.

  • You can take your test on paper or on a computer. The test questions and format are the same. The only difference is the way you give your answers.

The IELTS Listening and Speaking tests are the same, regardless if you choose to sit IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training test.

The IELTS Writing and Reading tests are different in the Academic and General Training tests. The Academic test will contain topics suitable for anyone entering university or professional institutions. The General Training test will contain topics based on general interest.

Which test to take?

The organisation where you plan to work or study sets the requirements. So, before you register for your test, it’s good to check which test is right for you.

Understanding the four sections of the IELTS test

Listening

You will listen to four recorded texts – two monologues and two conversations.

You will hear the recordings once only. Different accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, and North American, are used.

  • Part 1: A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context, e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency.

  • Part 2: A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

  • Part 3: A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

  • Part 4: A monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

There are 40 questions. A variety of different question types are used.


Reading

IELTS Academic – three sections

  • For each section you will be given one long reading passage with tasks.

  • All the topics are of general interest to students at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

  • The texts may be written in different styles and may contain diagrams, graphs, or illustrations.

  • The texts will come from a variety of sources (e.g. books, journals, newspapers).

There are 40 questions. A variety of different question types are used.

IELTS General Training – three sections

  • You will be presented with five or six texts of varying length with tasks.

  • Section 1: contains two or three short texts or several shorter texts on everyday topics.

  • Section 2: contains two short, work-related, factual texts.

  • Section 3: contains one longer text on a topic of general interest.

  • The texts will come from a variety of sources (e.g. advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, newspapers).

There are 40 questions. A variety of different question types are used.

Writing

IELTS Academic Task 1:

  • You are given a graph, table, chart, or diagram and are asked to describe the visual information in your own words.

  • You are asked to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

IELTS General Training Task 1:

  • You respond to a situation, for example, by writing a letter asking for information or explaining a situation.

  • You are asked to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Task 2:

  • You are given a point of view, argument or problem which you need to discuss.

  • You are asked to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.


Speaking

Part 1 (4–5 minutes):

  • The Examiner asks you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies, and interests.

Part 2 (3–4 minutes):

  • You will be given a card which asks you to talk about a topic.

  • You will have 1 minute to prepare before speaking for up to 2 minutes.

  • The Examiner may then ask one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 (4–5 minutes):

  • The Examiner asks more questions that are connected to the topic of Part 2.

  • These questions give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

IELTS test sections

A quick guide to understanding the four test sections

Listening

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleConsists of 40 questions based on four audio recordings
  • list?.image?.titleYou will listen to four recorded texts – two monologues and two conversations
  • list?.image?.titleThe recordings are played only once, and will not be repeated

Reading

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately 60 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleConsists of three reading passages or texts
  • list?.image?.titleA variety of question types is used to test a wide range of reading skills
  • list?.image?.titleReading test passages and questions in the Academic and General Training tests are different

Writing

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately 60 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleConsists of two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS Writing Task 1 differs depending on whether you are taking the IELTS Academic or General Training test
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS Writing Task 2 is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

Speaking

  • list?.image?.titleDuration: Approximately between 11 and 14 minutes
  • list?.image?.titleTaken face-to-face with a human examiner, in a private speaking room
  • list?.image?.titleThe test is recorded and conducted in three parts
  • list?.image?.titleStructured more like a conversation between the examiner and the test taker
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Learn how IELTS Reading and Writing differ depending on which test you take.