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A Complete Guide To IELTS Test Format

Guide for IELTS

The migration of students and working professionals to international countries is driving the demand for IELTS – a standardized English language test for international education, work, and immigration. 

With the number of test-takers growing each year, guess how many candidates appeared for the test in 2018 alone.

Any ideas?

Well, around 3.5 million candidates appeared for the test in 2018 alone.

This makes it sort of tough to think of even choosing this path. 

But you have to if you want to have a substantial career shift or a professional breakthrough. 

We will find out why.

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. Introduced in 1989, it is the world’s leading English language exam.

It is widely accepted by schools, colleges, universities, companies and government bodies in 140 countries, namely Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and some parts of the USA.

No wonder thousands of people take this test.

But what is IELTS all about? 

Let’s begin with its format.

IELTS Format

IELTS primarily divides into two sections – Academic and General Training. 

Academic IELTS is for students who wish to pursue higher studies abroad, and General Training is for working professionals who want to either work or immigrate to foreign countries. 

The exam tests four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. 

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are on one day, like a marathon race without any breaks and the Speaking test is a few days before or after the LRW (Listening, Reading and Writing) tests’ day.

Now, once you have got to know the format of IELTS, let me show you how it’s further broken down.

IELTS Listening

Listening is the first skill tested in IELTS. 

You listen to a recording (which you can hear once only) and answer the questions. 

The Listening questions are divided into four sections.

The first section is a conversation between two people talking about a social situation; for example, a conversation in a library or an accommodation agency.

The second section has a monologue. Here, one person talks about an everyday social situation such as important marine animals or local facilities.

The third section comprises a conversation between (up to) 4 people talking about some training, a research project, or an educational assignment.

The fourth and last section includes a person giving an academic lecture.

The difficulty level increases with each section. So, the last section seems trickier than the rest.

In the listening test, you have to solve 40 questions.

The recording plays for 30 minutes. You get an extra 10 minutes to transfer the answers to the answer sheet.

IELTS Reading

The Reading Test is designed to test how you extract the main idea, read between the lines to get the final answer, understand the gist of the passage, acknowledge the writer or author’s purpose and opinions, and follow the scaffolding of the given argument.

The reading test differs for both the modules – Academic and General Training.

Academic Reading has three sections. Each of these contains a long text taken from newspapers, magazines, journals, and books, mostly related to the academic curriculum. So, you will be familiar with the tone and the language.

The texts are either analytical, descriptive, or factual, complemented with illustrations, diagrams, or graphs. You will find a glossary after the text if there are too many technical terms. 

Similar to the Academic module, the reading section of General Training also has three sections taken from newspapers, magazines, official documents, advertisements, company handbooks, and notices. 

Both the Academic and General Module have 40 questions, which are divided into different types. A few of them include:

  • Short Answer Questions
  • FlowChart
  • Table
  • Diagram
  • Text Categorization and many more

IELTS Reading runs for 60 minutes. You get no extra time granted to transfer the answers to the answer sheet. So, you have to be on your toes while filling the answer sheet within the given time.

IELTS Writing

Writing is the third skill tested in IELTS. It majorly tests your responding skills, the way you organize your ideas, and the range of grammar you use. 

The writing test divides into two sections, that is, two tasks. 

While task 1 contrasts for both Academic and General Training modules, task 2 remains the same.

Task 1 of Academic deals with diagrams, charts, tables, and graphs. In this section, you explain or describe the given information or a process in your own words. 

In task 1 of general training, you write a letter, either explaining a situation or requesting information. These letters can be in a formal, semi-formal, or a personal tone. 

Task 2 is an essay to put forth your opinion or discuss situations. For task 2, you write the essay in response to a viewpoint. You maintain a position and explain your perception.

The whole test of IELTS Writing goes on for 60 minutes.

IELTS Speaking

Speaking is the fourth skill tested in IELTS.

A very interactive section, IELTS Speaking judges a wide range of skills. It tests your pronunciation, fluency, coherence, grammatical range and accuracy, and lexical resource.

You speak to a certified IELTS examiner where he tests your communication, language, and organizational views.

The Speaking test splits into three parts.

Part 1 deals with an introduction and a short interview for about 4 to 5 minutes. 

In this part, the examiner introduces himself and asks you to introduce yourself. Next, he asks you a few questions on general topics such as your interests, studies, work, family, hobbies, and many more.

Then starts Part 2, which is an individual long turn. 

The examiner gives you a question with a few sub-questions on a task card. You take a minute to think over the topic and its sub-questions and talk for 3 to 4 minutes (at length). 

This part is a monologue where you keep talking until you touch base the points mentioned on the task card or are interrupted by the examiner. 

Sometimes, the examiner concludes this part by asking some questions related to the topic.

Part 3 is a two-way discussion based on Part 2. The examiner asks you around 7 to 8 questions centered on the Part 2 topic.

IELTS Speaking runs for only 12 to 15 minutes.

So, you have to bet on all your skills to score maximum in such a short period.

That sounds so tough! Indeed it is if you do not practice.

There is one old saying, ‘Practice is the best master.’

I have alchemy that can help you practice and target for the best score in IELTS. 

Feel free to know what it is on the courses page. 

Who knows my course lectures and your efforts together can make you triumph!

So, who wants to succeed by betting on the correct path?

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