IELTS Syllabus 2020 (General and Academic)

The IELTS tests are of two formats, namely IELTS Academic Test and IELTS General Training Test and you’ll have to choose between the two, depending on your reason for migrating. The test comprises four modules, Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. The two formats of the test, defer in the Reading and Writing sections, while the Listening and Speaking sections are the same in both. The total time duration of the test is 2 hours 45 minutes.

Components of IELTS

As mentioned earlier, the IELTS exam is of two types:

Both of them consist of these four categories:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

IELTS exam pattern and syllabus:

IELTS Test Pattern

The total duration of the test is 2 hours 45 minutes, and this is how the test pattern is going to be:

Section Duration No of questions
Listening 30 mins 40
Reading 60 mins 40
Writing 60 mins 2
Speaking 12 – 14 mins 3

IELTS Syllabus

The IELTS exam is an important one if you’re planning to migrate to a country where English is one of the languages of communication. The syllabus for the test is set by the British Council, IDP and Cambridge Examinations for both the exam types, i.e Academic and General Training. Between both the exam types, the test format will be the same in the Listening and Speaking sections but will differ in the Reading and Writing sections.

Misconceptions about syllabus of IELTS

IELTS syllabus is universal and not country specific. So there is no such term as “IELTS syllabus for UK” or “IELTS syllabus for India”.

Section-wise Syllabus

The IELTS exam syllabus of each of the 4 categories are:

IELTS Listening (Same for Academic and General Training)

The Listening Test includes 4 sections and overall, lasts for 3 minutes. There’ll be 40 questions in total with each question carrying one mark. Remember, the questions get more difficult as you progress through the test.

The conversations could be both monologues and dialogues and these conversations can be heard once only. This is to test to assess your listening ability to pick up on and understand the information, ideas and opinions conveyed by the speaker.

No. of questions: 40

Time duration: 40 minutes

The 4 sections of the Listening Test:

Section 1

You’ll hear a conversation happening between two people on everyday social topics. The topic of conversation will be something generic.

Section 2

In this, you’ll hear a speaker giving a speech or a monologue on a social context.

Section 3

You’ll hear a conversation happening between 2-4 people in an academic or educational context. The topic of conversation will be something related to education, courses or so on

Section 4

In this section, you’ll hear a person giving a lecture or a talk on an academic-related topic.

IELTS Reading (Different for Academic and General Training)

The IELTS Reading includes 3 sections with a total of 40 questions. The type of questions includes multiple-choice, identifying data, matching lists or phrases and so on. Though the format is the same, the type of questions will be different for both Academic and General Training.

No. of questions: 40

Time duration: 30 minutes

Reading IELTS Academic

This section includes three long paragraphs, where the subject matter will be authentic text, taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. The passages will be written in various styles such as narrative, descriptive, or argumentative. The content will be meant for students looking to enter university or seeking registration in various professional fields.

Reading IELTS General Training

This section will include paragraphs, where the content will be taken from advertisements, handbooks, magazines and newspapers. The subject of the content will be of everyday topics that you are likely to encounter in an English speaking environment

IELTS Writing (Different for Academic and General Training)

The Writing test includes 2 tasks for which you’ll have a total of 60 minutes to complete it in. Task 1 should be written in at least 150 words, while Task 2 should be in at least 250 words. It’s recommended to spend not more than 20 minutes for Task 1.

No. of questions: 2

Time Duration: 60 minutes

Writing IELTS Academic

Task 1 

You’ll be given a question containing either a diagram, table or graph. After analyzing the data, you’ll have to process the information and present it in our own words

Task 2

In this section, you’ll have to write an essay, of at least 250 words, responding to the given question and support your viewpoint with relevant examples. Remember to make sure to write with a formal tone. And don’t deviate from the given topic, as you may lose marks if the answer is irrelevant to the given topic

Writing IELTS General Training

Tasks 1 & 2

In the General Training type of test, task 1 will be a situation where you’ll have to write a letter. The letter can be a personal, semi-formal or formal letter depending on the type of situation.

For task 2, you’ll have to write an essay responding to a situation or a problem. The essay doesn’t necessarily have to be in a formal style and be written like a personal letter.

IELTS Speaking (Same for Academic and General Training)

The Speaking test is almost like an interview where the examiner will ask you a few questions and you’ll have to reply to them accordingly. The entire test will be recorded by the examiner for the purpose of evaluation. The purpose of this test is to test your spoken English and your fluency while speaking.

Time duration: 12-14 minutes.

The test consists of 3 parts

Part 1 (Introduction)

You’ll be asked to introduce yourself, and talk about your background, family, friends, studies, hobbies and so on.

Part 2 (Talk based on topic)

In this part, you’ll be given a cue card, with a topic on it. You’ll have to speak on the topic after one minute of preparation time.

Part 3 (Discussion)

In this part, you’ll be asked questions where you’ll have to elaborate more with relation to the given topic in Part 2.

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Written By

Syed Monif is a professional content marketer and IELTS Trainer by day, and a bookworm by night, and sometimes during the day too! He currently works on creating extremely user-friendly and engaging content for the online portal IELTSmaterial.com. His work involves creating and editing content while making sure they're super interesting and easy to read! And also as a master procrastinator, right now he's probably googling something so arbitrary like 'How rich is Scrooge McDuck?' without realizing that his lunch break is almost over.

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