IELTS Exam Pattern

IELTS scores play a vital role in getting your visa stamped. So it would be wise to know the pattern of the IELTS exam before actually taking the exam. Familiarising yourself with the pattern helps save time and relieves anxiety on the test day.

There are two IELTS tests available. They are:

  • IELTS Academic
  • IELTS General Training.

Both of them consist of the following four components:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

The total duration of the test is 2 hours 45 minutes.

Skill tested in IELTSDuration How many questions?
Listening30 minutes4 sections, 40 questions
Reading60 minutes3 sections, 40 questions
Writing60 minutes2 tasks
Speaking11- 14 minutes3 parts

The first three parts will be conducted on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing. The speaking test may be held either on the same day or seven days prior to the test or after the test.


Four recordings of native English speakers will be played. You have to listen to them and then write your answers to the questions asked.

Recording 1: Two speakers are involved. They talk about day-to-day social life.

Eg:  Conversation about grocery prices.

Recording 2: Only one speaker is involved. He/She talks about everyday social life.

Eg: Speech about water scarcity.

Recording 3: Two speakers are involved. The conversation revolves around education and training.

Eg: A Professor and student discussing a project.

Recording 4: Only one speaker is involved. He/She talks about academics.

Eg: A university lecture.


It varies for Academic and General Training tests.

Pattern for Academic

There are three long passages. Each passage is adapted from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources, targetted at a non-specialist audience. Topics are apt for students pursuing undergraduate or postgraduate courses. The passages may be in the following styles:

  • Narrative,
  • Descriptive
  • Discursive
  • Argumentative.
  • Diagrammatic
  • Graphical

Pattern for General

There are three sections with increasing difficulty. Section 1 and 2 will contain short passages on day-to-day life and work in an English speaking country respectively. Section 3 texts will be taken from newspapers, magazines, books and online resources. Overall, this passage tests whether the test taker can survive in an English speaking environment.


It varies for Academic and General Training tests.


It has 2 tasks. They are :

Task 1: Describe a piece of visual information in 150 words. [They may be graphs, tables, charts or diagrams]. Time allotted is 20 minutes.

Task 2: Write an essay for about 250 words. They may be opinion essays, discussion essays etc.


Task 1: Letter writing which may be formal, semiformal or informal. You need to write at least 150 words.

Task 2: Write an essay for about 250 words.


The Speaking test is a face-to-face interview with an examiner. It will be recorded.

It consists of three parts. They are:

Part 1 – Introduction

This part tests your ability to form and state opinions and give information on everyday topics by answering a range of questions. They are usually personal questions.

Part 2 – Cue Card

This part tests your ability to speak spontaneously on a given topic, using appropriate vocabulary.

Part 3 – Discussion

This part tests your ability to analyze, and discuss the topic in part 2 more elaborately.

Also check :

Written By

Sowmya is a content writer and is passionate about her job. She currently works on editing and writing engaging content for IELTS Material. She also has experience in the Software Testing Industry and has worked with Wipro for five and a half years.

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