Exam Format

The IELTS exam has four sections. You're gonna take the reading, writing, listening tests in one session. And there aren't any breaks in between those sections of the test. The speaking test is scheduled separately, most people take the speaking test on the same day that they take the other parts of the exam.

But you can actually schedule the speaking test up to a week before or a week after the other portion of the test. Some of this depends on the test center where you're taking the test. So when you sign up you should check on when they have availability for the speaking test. The speaking test is an in person interview.

You're going to be meeting with an examiner in a room and that examiner is going to ask you interview questions, for about 12 to 15 minutes most of the time. For the paper exam, the test is gonna take you about two hours and 45 minutes to complete. It's a long experience, in which the reading lasts one hour, the writing portion also takes one hour, listening takes around 30 minutes.

Listening Section

For the listening section, you're listening to people speaking. The dialogs or monologues in some sections, and then on the paper test, if you're taking the paper IELTS, they're going to give you 10 minutes after the last speaker talks. After the last dialog you listen to in section four of the test, you're gonna get 10 whole minutes to take the answers that you wrote down in notes in your test booklet. And you can transfer those answers over to the final answer sheet.


On the computer test, that's different. At the end of the test on the computer exam, you only have two minutes to check spelling. And the reason for that is because on the computer test, you're entering answers directly on the screen throughout the test, so you don't need to transfer answers at the end of the exam.


The listening test also has 40 questions and each section of the listening test has ten questions in it. On the listening test the questions do get harder as you go. Section one is easier than section two and so on throughout the test. Section four of the exam is basically, is usually an academic lecture. You gonna hear a professor or some expert talking about a topic and that tends to be quite a bit tougher than the earlier sections of the test. 

Reading Section

In the readings test, you can expect to find three long reading passages. They may get a little more challenging as you go through but most of them are about the same length, the same difficulty, and you've got to answer, you know, about 12 to 15 questions per passage. The total number of questions you're going to answer is 40. The numbers do vary a little bit among the three reading passages you read, the questions related to those, but they will always add up to 40 for the entire section. 

Writing Section

In the writing test, you're gonna have two tasks. Task one is a short report based on a set of prompts that you have. There are gonna be visual aids there of some kind, you may have to look at a map. You may look at some charts and graphs. You're just gonna look at that visual information and you have to write a report about it. You're supposed to take 20 minutes to do task one and then task two you're supposed to use 40 minutes, at least 40 minutes to write and that's gonna be a standard essay, where you've got a thesis statement in the introduction, some body paragraphs and a conclusion.

Speaking Section

Speaking test won't go longer than 15 minutes. Speaking section has three different parts. You have different types of questions in each part of the test from the interviewer. Part one tends to be more basic questions, sort of small talk questions about daily life kind of conversational topics. You'll have a short little speech you have to give in part two of the test, a monologue. And the last part you get back to the interview style questions back and forth between you and the examiner. But the questions get a little more complicated to answer and your answers are supposed to go a little bit longer.  Most people take it on the same day they take the other parts of the test. But you have some flexibility there. Just check with your test center when you can schedule your speaking test.