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Know All About the IELTS Exam Pattern and Syllabus 2023

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The IELTS examination comprises 4 main tests to evaluate your proficiency in the English language. Let us take a look at the IELTS exam pattern and syllabus for this tests so you know exactly what you need to prepare. Before the exam pattern for 2021, let’s also find out types of IELTS exam. 

The IELTS Syllabus is prescribed by its administrators namely British Council, IDP and Cambridge ESOL Examinations for both the formats, i.e. IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The IELTS Exam consists of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking sections. According to the IELTS Syllabus 2020, the Listening and Speaking sections would be the same for all the test-takers, however, for Academic and General Training test modules you might find some difference in the Reading and Writing modules.

Types of IELTS Examination

The IELTS examinations are divided into 2 categories and it is important to go through this part to know the IELTS exam pattern:

IELTS Academic Training

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Know All About the IELTS Exam Pattern and Syllabus 2023

As the name suggests, this examination is mostly chosen by the students applying for higher education. If you want to study abroad, then you must opt for the Academic examination. The reading and writing sections of the test will focus on your academic needs. This examination is also sometimes opted by the professionals.

IELTS General Training

This training program is mostly opted by the professionals, immigrants, students of general courses, etc. General Training focuses more on the fundamental understanding of the English language.

The reading and writing sections for these two types of examinations differ. However, the listening and speaking portions are pretty much the same for both. There would be a reading test followed by a writing test and finally a listening test. All the three tests would be conducted one after another, on the same day. However, you can opt to appear for the speaking test at an interval of a week before or after the other sections.

IELTS WRITING

The IELTS writing test is used to evaluate your English writing skills. This section has 2 tasks that you must complete within the allotted 60 minutes. The tasks differ mainly based on the type of test you take. The Academic writing test requires considerably more rigorous training than the General writing test.

IELTS Writing Skills

IELTS writing skills are evaluated based on the following factors:

  • Task Achievement

Your ability to follow the directions provided in the description, to complete the task, plays an important role in your writing score. The examiner evaluates your writing style to see how you have incorporated the guidelines to write the essays or the letter. They will also check whether you are able to express your opinion clearly and concisely as per the guidelines.

  • Grammar

This is a very important factor that helps determine your IELTS writing skills. You must use the following 8 parts of speech appropriately:

  1. Nouns
  2. Pronouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Adverbs
  5. Prepositions
  6. Adjectives
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Interjections

Pay attention to the use of prepositions and pronouns as this is where most candidates make mistakes. You must also adhere to the correct forms of verbs and tenses. Don’t change the verb tenses without proper structuring. Use the correct singular and plural forms of the verbs and verb conjugations.

  • Cohesion and Fluency

It is important to maintain a flow in your IELTS writing style. Don’t just write random thoughts or opinions. There should be a proper structure of cause and effect.

Additionally, make sure to use appropriate punctuations to express the sentence structures. Use colons, commas, and semicolons to indicate specific points and arguments. Break the essay into paragraphs if required. The entire essay comprising one or more paragraphs should have a logical flow with strong opinions. These small details points are important to consider when knowing in detail about the IELTS exam pattern. 

  • Vocabulary

Last, but probably one of the most important factors in evaluating your IELTS writing skills, is your vocabulary. Here are a few tips you can follow to improve your writing:

  1. Don’t repeat the same words over and over again. Proper use of synonyms can really boost your IELTS writing skills.
  2. Use adverbs wherever necessary to express yourself concisely. You can incorporate words such as ‘Moreover,’ ‘Furthermore,’ ‘Additionally,’ etc.
  3. Learn new words to express strong opinions without being offensive or arrogant.
  4. Use interjections to express intonations in your writing.

The IELTS writing style contributes to 25% of your total score. You can improve your grammar, vocabulary, and sentence formation skills with practice. Then follow the directions to accomplish the desired results for the tasks at hand.

IELTS Writing Task 1

The IELTS writing task 1 is different for candidates who opt for Academic or General Examination. This task is relatively easier than task 2. The information is easy to interpret and the requirements are quite simple. You should finish this task within 20 minutes so you can focus more attention on the following task which is a little more challenging. The essay or letter for the IELTS writing task 1 should be at least 150 words in length.

The Academic writing test task 1 is designed for students applying for higher education. It provides an image depicting a graph (bar, line, etc.), or chart, or table. You must interpret the information and derive a conclusion based on the data provided. You will then need to write an essay based on the information and your conclusion. Remember to always follow the directions provided in the task description.

In General writing task 1, you will need to write a letter. The task description will tell you whether the letter is formal or informal, to whom it should be addressed, and the subject of the letter. Follow the directions carefully to achieve a high score in this section of the test.

IELTS Writing Task 2

The IELTS writing task 2 also varies based on the type of examination for which you opted. This task requires more time due to its higher level of difficulty. The essays for the IELTS writing task 2 must be at least 250 words in length and express your stance on a topic with decisiveness.

In Academic writing task 2, you must write an essay that predominantly expresses your opinion on the subject matter provided in the task description. You will need to analyze the data and provide suitable arguments to support your decision. Provide examples and make your case. Remember, your opinion must have merit and a logical flow to it. This task is used to check how firmly you can present an argument. You can be diplomatic but express a strong viewpoint.

In General writing task 2, you will need to write an essay based on the information provided in the task description. You will have to state your opinion strongly with supporting arguments and examples. This essay must clearly express your personal feelings towards the subject matter. This detailed information about essay included in the IELTS exam pattern will help you crack high scores

IELTS SPEAKING

The IELTS speaking test is by far the shortest and the easiest portion of the exam. It is simply like a conversation between you and the examiner. The IELTS speaking test is divided into 3 sections to fully evaluate your English-speaking proficiency.

During the first part of the examination, the examiner will ask you to talk about familiar topics such as family, profession, your preferences, etc. For 4 – 5 minutes, you can get comfortable speaking in English and preparing for the next round.

After you have been acquainted, thereby completing round 1, you will move on to round 2. The examiner will hand you a card that has a topic on it. They will give you 1 minute to prepare for what you want to say on the topic at hand. It can be an argument defending the topic or simply stating your opinion or an experience you might have had. You will then have 2 minutes to speak. Make sure to speak clearly with intonations as necessary. Once you conclude your speech, the examiner will ask some follow-up questions to further understand the point you were trying to make.

The examiner will then proceed to round 3 which is really just an extension of round 2. They will ask you some detailed questions about the topic that you were previously discussing. These 4 – 5 minutes are dedicated to having a relaxed and open dialogue about the subject at hand. You can express your views and elaborate on your experiences or examples.

The IELTS speaking test roughly takes 13 – 15 minutes. During this time the examiner will observe your ease of communication and fluency in the English language. You can follow these guidelines to improve your score:

  1. Speak with intent.
  2. Avoid hesitations or using filler words such as ‘umm,’ ‘like,’ etc.
  3. Have a conversation, not a debate.
  4. Make your point but don’t be arrogant.
  5. Express a good sense of vocabulary and grammar while you speak.
  6. Take the time to think about what you want to say instead of stringing random thoughts together.
  7. Pay attention to intonations such as for questions, lists, etc. Your voice must rise and fall as needed.
IELTS READING

The IELTS reading test is conducted for 60 minutes during which you will be provided 3 – 4 passages and 40 corresponding questions. The difficulty level of the passages increases one after the other. You must analyze and understand the passages to answer the questionnaire. A separate Answer sheet is provided to enter your responses.

You must not spend more than 15 minutes reading as you need to answer 40 questions and allot some time to verify the question sequence and check your responses.

The IELTS reading test usually offers the following types of questions:

  1. Multiple-choice questions
  2. True and False statements
  3. Comprehensive writing
  4. Complete the sentences
  5. Match the following phrases or lists
  6. Expressing your opinion
IELTS Reading Test – Academic

The Academic Reading Test is designed for aspirants of higher education in English speaking countries. It consists of 3 – 4 passages from research journals, newspapers, books, or relevant educational content. You are required to read the passage, comprehend what it is trying to express, and answer the questionnaire, all within 60 minutes.

Each passage is more difficult than the previous one. Practice for the Academic IELTS reading test by regularly reading academic and research journals, professional magazines, newspapers, etc. Once you learn to comprehend and analyze the data quickly and easily, your reading proficiency will increase.

IELTS Reading Test – General

Unlike the Academic test, the General IELTS reading test is a lot simpler. It uses passages from sources that are easily accessible and used in day-to-day life. The examiners usually choose company brochures, advertisements for various establishments, guidelines of an organization, and other relevant material.

The General test also has a set of 40 questions to answer. You must analyze the data in as little time as possible in order to accommodate answering all the questions on time. You can start by reading the questions first and mark the answers as you read the passages. This will help you save time and find the relevant answers quickly.

Mini IELTS Reading

The mini IELTS reading program is offered by the mini-IELTS website. They provide tips on speed-reading and test-completion. They also provide practice tests, video tutorials, and small video tests. This website is dedicated to helping IELTS aspirants prepare for their reading and listening portions of the exam.

IELTS Fever General Reading

IELTS fever reading is an IELTS practice program offered by a US-based organization. They help aspirants prepare for the examination with the help of 30 practice tests. These are designed for candidates who have opted for the IELTS general exam. These tests are regularly updated to reflect new and improved syllabus patterns in the actual exam.

IELTS LISTENING

The IELTS listening test in the IELTS exam pattern evaluates your understanding and interpretation skills in regards to the English language. This test lasts for 40 minutes during which the examiner will play various types of native English speakers having a conversation or delivering a monologue. You must listen to them and follow their conversation, understand the points they are trying to make, and answer questions based on what you heard.

The IELTS listening test is conducted in 4 parts:

  • The conversation Between 2 People

During this part of the test, the examiner will play an everyday-conversation between 2 individuals regarding a general topic. They may be discussing a mundane event or planning a trip. You have to pay attention to the details and understand why and how they plan on accomplishing the task.

  • The Speech

This portion of the test is also fairly easy as a single speaker will be heard speaking about a general topic. The speech that is delivered can include details about a product or service or even a public event. Since the topic is relatable, you can use word association to remember the details.

  • The Conversation Between 3 – 4 People

This part of the exam is a bit more complicated as the number of speakers is more. The conversation takes place between 3 – 4 people who are discussing an educational context. In addition to providing factual data, they will also express personal opinions. You must pay attention to how they react or the feeling they express when they talk.

  • The Monologue

Finally, in this portion of the IELTS listening test, the examiner will play a recording of a monologue. The speaker will share information on an academic topic. They will still express it with intonations so you must interpret how they feel about the material that they are delivering.

The terms of the IELTS listening tests are a little different than that of the reading test. You will be provided with a questionnaire and Answer sheet for the listening test too. And you must enter the answers on the Answer sheet. However, during this test, the IELTS exam pattern is slightly different.

Once you receive the questionnaire, you will have 30 seconds to go through it. Then the recordings will be played, during which you must pay attention to the speakers and note down any important points on the questionnaire. This whole process takes about 30 minutes.

After the recordings are finished, you will be given exactly 10 minutes to copy your answers on the Answer sheet. You can write your answers quickly based on the important keywords, phrases, and points that you have previously noted on the questionnaire.

Remember, the dialogues and monologues are delivered by native English speakers. The accent may make it difficult to follow the conversation or speech. It is good to develop a habit of listening to such accents before the test. You can watch educational programs, Ted Talks, seminars, etc. that are delivered by speakers of English, Australian or American descent. This will ease your comprehension of the words in different accents.

So, this is all about the IELTS exam pattern and syllabus. You can start your preparation with Leap Scholar’s IELTS program. Let’s see how!

How Leap Scholar can help prepare for the IELTS examination

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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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