IELTS Academic Test 2022: Significance, Difficulty, Preparation Tips

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The IELTS academic test is a requirement for those looking to pursue a degree in a native English-speaking country for higher education. Candidates can choose to take either the general training or academic IELTS tests depending on their needs. This is a language proficiency test that is also used by candidates to permanently migrate to countries like the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, etc.

The IELTS academic test assesses your ability to survive academic environments in native English settings. The test ascertains your proficiency in four essential skills – Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

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Structure of the IELTS Academic Test

While the reading and writing sections are different for Academic and General Training, the listening and speaking parts are the same for both. Students preparing for the IELTS Academic test can find below an overview of the types of questions that come in the IELTS academic test.

Writing

The IELTS Academic Writing test consists of two tasks – Task 1 and Task 2.For the first task, candidates will be given a graph, diagram, chart or table. Test takers will need to summarise, describe or explain the information available. It is essential to organise the response in a structural manner, starting with an introduction, following up with an overview and providing the main features support with figures from the given visual information.This task requires a minimum of 150 words and comes with an allocated time of 20 minutes. It is of the utmost importance that you complete this section in that duration to ensure you have ample time for Task 2.As for the second task, IELTS will provide you with an argument, problem or a point of view essay type question. Topics are usually taken from common academic situations, ranging from specific subjects to technology, culture and social structures. Further, test takers may require agreeing or disagreeing with an argument or opinion, discussing two contrasting views, writing about disadvantages or advantages of a topic or the cause of a problem and presenting possible solutions.

Reading

The IELTS reading test assesses your command of the English language by testing a wide range of skills. These include your ability to follow an argument, identify a writer’s opinion, purpose or attitude. It further tests your efficiency in understanding main ideas, implied meanings and opinions. It will also ascertain your comprehension ability through skimming, scanning and reading for details.Three long texts from current books, magazines, newspapers or journals constitute the Academic Reading test. The topics are based on what students may face if they pursue undergraduate or postgraduate degrees or in a professional environment in a native English speaking country.Test takers need to answer 40 questions within 60 minutes, and the questions can be multiple-choice to identify information or the writer’s perspective, matching heading, features and sentence endings. It can also include linking sentences, summary, note, table and flow chart completion, and short answer questions.

Speaking

This category remains the same for both Academic and General Training exams. It assesses your proficiency in spoken English. This is a face-to-face examination with an IELTS-certified examiner. All responses are recorded in case there is a need for review later.The speaking section consists of three parts and takes around 11 to 14 minutes. In part 1, the examiner will ask general questions about your work, family, hobbies and interests, studies, etc.For part 2, you will get a card with a topic. You will then get a preparation time of 1 minute. At this time, you need to prepare a response and then speak on the topic for 2 minutes.In part 3, you will have an in-depth discussion on the topic and your speech in part 2. The examiner will ask related questions and assess your understanding of the topic.The Speaking test can take place on the same day as the other three tests or a week before or after the test day.

Listening

The test format for the listening section of the IELTS Academic and General Training is the same. The test is designed to estimate your ability to identify the main ideas, extract information, opinion, purpose or attitude of the speakers, along with your ability to recognise idea development in a speech.Candidates will need to listen to four recordings and answer 40 questions based on those recordings. While the first two recordings revolve around situations in an everyday context, the 3rd and 4th recording deals with situations that one may come across in an academic or professional environment.Recordings 1 and 2 will include a conversation between two or more speakers. The last two recordings are monologues. Test takers will answer questions that are based on these four recordings. Questions can range from multiple-choice to matching sentence ending, information, features, headings, as well as sentence, table, note, table diagram or flow-chart completion. 

Difference Between General & Academic IELTS Tests

Students wondering about possible differences between General and Academic IELTS can find a comprehensive overview in this section. Without further ado, let’s check the differences!To start off, topics in Academic tests are suitable for candidates looking to pursue higher education or professional endeavours. However, the General Training test consists of topics that are based on general interest. The IELTS Speaking and Listening sections, as mentioned earlier, are the same for both formats.For the Reading section, GT candidates get 60 minutes for completion. It consists of three sections, where the 1st section has two or three short texts. The second section consists of two texts while the 3rd section contains one long text. These texts are usually collected from advertisements or notices or from official documents, company handbooks, newspapers and books.The Academic test is also for 60 minutes but contains three long texts that are taken from newspapers, books, journals and magazines. The texts are selected for non-specialist audiences.Like the reading test, the writing section also takes 60 minutes. For General Training, you require writing a letter of around 150 words and a long essay of 250 words. In the case of Academic test, you will need to complete two tasks – task 1 will include describing a chart/table/diagram, and the second task requires writing a short essay of at least 250 words.The writing style for the Academic test is more formal than General Training.  

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IELTS Academic Test 2022: Significance, Difficulty, Preparation Tips

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IELTS Academic Test 2022: Significance, Difficulty, Preparation Tips

IELTS Academic Test Format and Sections

IELTS Academic test format and descriptions are provided below to facilitate a clear understanding for students looking to sit for their IELTS academic.

Listening (30 minutes)

As mentioned earlier, you will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and answer a set of questions. 1st Recording: a conversation between two people in an everyday context2nd Recording: A monologue set in an everyday context3rd Recording: A conversation among four or more people in an education or training context, such as an assignment discussion between a professor and their students4th Recording: A monologue on an academic subject, such as a university lectureAssessors will judge your ability to identify main ideas and detailed factual information. They will also ascertain your ability to recognise the opinions and perspectives of speakers along with the purpose of an utterance and your proficiency in following idea development.You will have to answer ten questions for each recording, and they are designed in a way so that answers appear in the order they are heard in the recording.The recordings are heard only once and can be in British, American, Australian, New Zealand or Canadian accents. You will get a total of 40 minutes, including 10 minutes transfer time. Candidates will write the answers on the question paper and transfer them to the answer paper during those 10 minutes. Each question carries one mark.Task types:

  • Multiple-choice
  • Matching
  • Plan, map, diagram-labelling
  • Form, note, table, flow chart, summary completion
  • Sentence completion
  • Short-answer questions

Speaking (11 – 14 minutes)This section assesses your use of spoken English, and all the tests are recorded in case there is a need for review later.It consists of an oral interview between the examiner and the test taker. There are three parts in the Speaking section and each serves a different purpose in terms of interaction pattern, task input and candidates output.

Part 1: Introduction and interviewDuring this session, the examiner will introduce himself/herself and assess the test taker’s ability to answer questions on general topics like home, family, profession, studies and interests. This part focuses on a candidate’s ability to communicate information and opinions on everyday topics and common experiences by answering a variety of questions. There is no fixed number of questions in this round.

Part 2: Long turnThis is an individual long term round where each gets a different task card. This asks the test takers to talk about the given topic. They will get 1 minute for their preparation and also get a pencil and paper to make notes. Then, candidates will speak on the topic for around 2 minutes, after which the examiner will ask one or two follow-up questions on the topic.It is essential for test-takers to follow the cue card to ensure speaking relevantly and structuring their talk. This part lasts 3-4 minutes, including the prep time.The prime focus of this part is to ascertain an individual’s ability to speak at length on a given topic, using appropriate ideas coherently. The number of questions will vary in this round as well.

Part 3: DiscussionIn this part, the examiner will discuss with the test taker issues related to the topic and speech in Part 2 with a more general and abstract approach. Questions will be in-depth and focus on expressing and justifying opinions and analysing, discussing, or speculating the issues. The number of questions is not fixed.

Reading

This section contains three reading passages with a variety of questions encompassing diverse task types. The total number of questions for this round is 40, and the duration to complete this section is 60 minutes.The passages can be written in a variety of styles, such as narrative, descriptive, or discursive/argumentative. However, at least one text contains a logical argument. The text may also contain visual information, such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. In case of any technical terms, a simple glossary is provided. Test takers need to transfer their answers within the allotted time and are not allowed any extra time for this purpose.Task types:

  • Multiple-choice
  • Identifying information
  • Identifying writer’s opinion/claim
  • Matching information, features, and headings
  • Sentence completion
  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart comparison
  • Diagram label completion
  • Short-answer questions

Writing

Topics of this part usually revolve around academic interest and are suitable for test takers looking to pursue higher studies or professional registration. This section consists of two tasks and are mandatory to complete.For task 1, candidates will describe some sort of visual information (graphs/charts/diagrams) in at least 150 words. The time duration for this task is 20 minutes, and candidates should not exceed this limit as they would need 40 minutes for task 2. Moreover, it is necessary to keep the answers relevant and to the point and should include the main points. Leaving out some minor or irrelevant details is acceptable.This task focuses on testing a candidate’s ability to identify the most important and relevant facts and figures along with trends in a graph, chart, table or diagram. Moreover, it also checks if a student can present an organised overview of using the language correctly in an academic style.There is also a penalty for giving information that is not relevant to the question or if the answer is not written in full. Further, plagiarism is severely punished by IELTS examiners.For task 2, test takers will write on a given topic in a semi-formal/neutral style. The answer needs to present an argumentative approach to relevant issues. It is essential to read the question carefully and provide a valid and relevant response with cohesiveness. For instance, if the question is about a particular aspect of a computer, one needs to discuss that aspect and not about computers in general.You will need to write a minimum of 250 words in the allotted 40 minutes. There is a penalty for writing irrelevantly or if the answer lacks cohesion and is not connected. Failing to answer this section can hamper the band score significantly.The test focuses on the ability to present clear, relevant and well-organised arguments alongside giving evidence to support ideas and language usage.

Why Should You Write Academic IELTS?

Besides being a necessary tool to move abroad for higher studies or professional registration, academic IELTS also has several distinct advantages. These are:

Worldwide recognition: IELTS is a recognised English proficiency test and is accepted by over 11,000 organisations worldwide, including immigration and professional bodies.T

raining exercise: This test will help you familiarise yourself with the application of the English language in everyday situations among native English speakers. The four sections of the test are designed to test four essential language skills and the ability to hold a conversation in an English speaking environment.

Diverse accents: Candidates can familiarise themselves with several accents, including New Zealand, Canadian, American or British. Further, in terms of spelling and grammar, IELTS accepts both British English and American English.

Availability: IELTS is accepted in over 140 countries globally, opening the gateway to a multitude of opportunities for applicants looking to apply in universities and organisations across the world. Your test centre can directly send it to organisations and universities according to your request.It is because of such benefits that the IELTS academic test is more popular than the general training. According to the official IELTS website, 77% candidates chose to give the academic test in 2019 over the general training test. This number can attest to the popularity of IELTS academic test.

Tips for Scoring Well in the Academic IELTS Exam

  1. Know the structure: Familiarise yourself with the exam format provided above and know the intricacies that come with it. Understanding different question types is of paramount importance. 
  2. Choose a strategy: If you are comfortable preparing by yourself, check free courses online and practice with both paid and free official IELTS test materials. However, if you prefer to study in a group, contact your nearest IELTS centre. Or, you can sign up for one or multiple online classes that offer teaching individually or in groups. Leap Scholar also has experts that can help you ace this test.
  3. Practice regularly: Scoring well in IELTS requires daily practice and preparing a routine accordingly. Allocate equal time for every section to ensure an all-around preparation.
  4. Read in English: read newspapers, magazines, books and journals to familiarise yourself with the different writing styles, approaches, and current events. It will also help you to improve your grammar significantly.
  5. Speak in English: Speaking in English with your peers and family. You can also record your own voice and look for possible errors and try fixing them. There are also several online tools that can assist you in improving your speaking skills.
  6. Listen to English podcasts and TV shows: Listening to English podcasts and watching TV shows also provide essential exposure to different accents and social structures.
  7. Strategise your approach: Knowing your approach in IELTS is of the utmost importance. This plays a key role in helping you navigate through the questions during the exam and ensures you do not lose valuable time. Knowing the skimming approach and time management is essential to score well in IELTS academic test.
  8. Answer relevantly: The importance of keeping your answers relevant is paramount. Do not go off-topic or write excessively. Keep your reasoning concrete and ensure you can present valid arguments to support the same.
  9. Be careful: Read the questions twice carefully and also remember to listen to the instructions. If you are unsure, do not hesitate to ask the examiner about any issue. Do not ignore the sample question and answer.
  10. Recheck your answers: If possible, recheck your answers for wrong grammar or spelling. Ensure there are no repetitions of sentences, words or phrases. After writing your answers, checking the structure, handwriting legibility, etc., after writing your answers, help you avoid any further mark deductions. 

Amp up your preparation for the IELTS Academic test with Leap Scholar. Our professionals possess the necessary expertise to provide apt guidance with notes, tips and other study materials to ensure you can clear the exam without any hiccups. Scoring better in your IELTS opens up multiple opportunities and shoots up your acceptance chances.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who conducts IELTS?

Ans: The IELTS test is jointly owned by the British Council, Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), and IDP IELTS Australia (International Development Program).

2. How many attempts are allowed for IELTS?

Ans: There is no specific limit on the number of times a candidate can sit for IELTS Academic or General Training. However, you must make sure that you have significantly improved your language skills before you take the test again. Taking the help of experts at Leap Scholar will also give you an edge as they provide you ample resources and inside tips to achieve your dream score.

3. What is the minimum age to be eligible for IELTS Academic?

Ans: IELTS does not hold age as a bar to sit for the exam. However, it is recommended to take the exam when one is 16 years of age or older. As both types of the test are specific for either students wishing to study abroad or candidates wishing to migrate to other countries for better opportunities. 


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Manisha Angre

Experienced IELTS prep trainer and education management industry veteran. Specializes in public speaking, international education, market research, mentoring, and management.

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