IELTS Exam Pattern

Start your IELTS preparation journey

Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking make up the four sections of the IELTS exam format. You will be evaluated on these four criteria, which will reveal something important about your English proficiency. If you get above band 6 in all sections, you will be considered an expert in the language! 


Note: Reading, Listening, and Writing sections are administered simultaneously. However, the Speaking section may be administered on the same day, seven days prior or seven days after the exam date.


IELTS Exam Pattern Overview


SectionSyllabusQuestion DistributionDuration

- 4 sections

- Monologues, dialogues

- Multiple choice

- Short answers

- Note completion, sentence completion

- Labels and diagrams, etc.

40 questions based on 4 recordings30 mins

- Multiple Choice, Summary completion

- Matching list or phrases

- Note completion

- Flow chart completion

- Identify the author’s view or attitude

40 questions60 mins

- Writing Test - 1 1 (Diagram, Tables, Graph)

- Writing Task - 2 (Formal Essay Writing - Arguments or opinions with relevant examples)

2 questions

- Writing task (Minimum 150 words)

- Essay (Minimum 250 words)

60 mins

- Personal Interview

- Little Speech and discussion

3 questions

- Part 1: Questions and Answers

- Part 2: Speaking on a familiar topic in detail

- Part 3: Structure discussion

11-14 mins




IELTS Exam Format


Let’s explore the IELTS sections in detail. 


IELTS Test Format - Listening


40 questions will be asked about 4 different recordings. These recordings are played only once and are based on different settings, as shown below.

  • The first recording is of a conversation between two people that takes place in a typical social setting.
  • Recording 2 is a conversation that takes place in a typical social setting.
  • Recording 3 is a discussion between up to four people that takes place in an instructional or learning environment.
  • Recording number four will consist of a monologue on any academic topic.


IELTS Test Format - Reading


The Reading section contains forty questions designed to assess various reading skills. These include comprehending the logical argument, reading for the main points, and reading for the particulars. The texts are selected from periodicals, journals, newspapers, and books for university applicants. 

You can expect to receive questions types such as

  • Identifying information
  • Matching features
  • Sentence completion
  • Short-answer questions
  • Identifying the author’s claims 


IELTS Test Format – Writing 


The writing section is designed to analyse your vocabulary range and your ability to construct and process information. There are two tasks in this section, as explained below.

  • Task 1- You’re allotted sixty minutes to complete both tasks. One task takes 20 minutes, while the other takes 40. Task 1 of the IELTS Academic Module requires you to summarise a table/graph/process in at least 150 words. Task 1 of the IELTS General Training Module requires candidates to compose a letter with at least 150 words.
  • Task 2- Task 2 is identical to the Academic and General Training Module. You must write an essay of a minimum of 250 words. The applicants must compose an essay responding to an argument, problem, or viewpoint. Ensure that you respond to both tasks in a formal manner.


IELTS Test format – Speaking


 The speaking section evaluates the candidate's spoken English. Each test is documented.

  • Part 1 - First, the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and familiar topics such as work, school, and home. The duration of the first section is four to five minutes.
  • Part 2 - You will be given a card with questions regarding a specific topic. You get a minute to prepare before speaking for two minutes. The examiner will then pose one or two questions on the chosen subject.
  • Part 3 - The participant will be asked questions regarding the topic chosen in Part 2. In this round, you can discuss your ideas and issues in greater depth. This section lasts between four and five minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Q. What is the passing band score in the IELTS exam?

A. The total band score is the average of all the individual section scores. The IELTS scale ranges from 0 to 9. There is nothing like a pass/fail test to evaluate a candidate's language skills. Candidates are able to comprehend the entire IELTS scoring pattern.

Q. How many IELTS Tests Report Forms (TRFs) can I get?

A. Candidates receive only one copy of the Test Report Form. However, the administrative body will send your IELTS score (TRF) to up to 5 colleges that you have selected in the IELTS application form.

Q. Which is the most difficult section in IELTS?

A. Largely, students find the Listening section the most difficult in the IELTS exam. It is because of the details they need to hear and remember while answering the questions.

Q. Which is the easiest section of IELTS?

A. Usually, candidates are most comfortable with the Speaking section of IELTS as they have worked on it the most.

Q. How difficult is the IELTS exam?

A. There is no straightforward response to this query. IELTS is designed to assess English proficiency. It evaluates your writing, reading, listening, and speaking abilities in English. As with any other examination, you must prepare thoroughly. Also, IELTS has no pass/fail system.

Q. How many days it takes to prepare for IELTS?

A. First, comprehend the examination format and the topics you will cover in each section. Prepare a study plan and allot at least 5-6 weeks to follow it once you are familiar with the exam's structure. After covering all the topics, take the IELTS practice tests and complete them as if you were actually taking the exam.

Q. Is 1 month enough to prepare for IELTS?

A. This depends on your current level of English proficiency. If you have an advanced level of English, you can prepare for the IELTS exam in a month or possibly less. However, it takes significantly longer to acquire language skills. It also depends on the amount of time you devote each day. If you study for extended periods of time, you may be able to cover all topics in less time. However, a few days or weeks may not be sufficient to master a language; months may be required.