The 4 parts of the IELTS test

The 4 parts of the IELTS testThe 4 parts of the IELTS test. The IELTS test has 4 different sections – reading, writing, listening and speaking. In most test centres, all 4 sections of the test are taken on the same day, but in some places the speaking assessment is on a different day. There are two types of IELTS test – the General Training Module and the Academic Module. The listening and speaking test is the same for both modules, but the reading and writing tests are different depending on which module you take. There are also 2 styles of IELTS test – the PBT (Paper Based Test) and the CBT (Computer Based Test).

The listening test (Try our free IELTS listening practice tests here)

The IELTS listening test takes around 35 minutes and has 4 parts. Parts 1 and 3 are conversations with two or more people, and Parts 2 and 4 are monologues (a single speaker). Part 4 is the only section without a break in the middle of the recording. There are 40 questions in total, with 10 questions in each part. You only get to listen to the recording once. There are 6 different question types used in the IELTS listening test.

The speaking test (Try our free IELTS speaking practice tests here)

The IELTS speaking test takes between 11 and 14 minutes, and is just you in a room with your examiner even if you are taking the CBT (Computer Based Test, where you type your answers onto a screen for the reading, writing and listening sections). The speaking test is divided into 3 parts – in Part 1, the examiner will ask you questions about yourself, in Part 2 you will need to speak to 2 minutes on a topic given to your by the examiner and in Part 3 you will be asked some higher level questions related to the topic you were given in Part 2. The speaking test will be recorded.

NOTE: the speaking and listening test is the same for both the General Training and the Academic Module, but there are differences between the modules in the writing and the reading test.

The General Training reading test (Try our free IELTS General Training reading practice tests here)

There are 3 sections to this General Training reading test, but in Sections 1 and 2, you will have at up to 6 short texts in total. In Section 1, you will have 2 or 3 short texts taken from timetables, leaflets, posters, for example. These are generally at a lower level of English and focus on ‘survival’ skills – that is, the kind of basic English you would need to know if you were living in an English speaking country. In Section 2, you will again have either 2 or 3 texts – still short, but a little longer than Section 1 – and the focus is on workplace issues. In Section 3, you will be given a single reading text of around 700 words. Between all 3 sections, you will need to answer a total of 40 questions in 60 minutes. You MUST make sure all of your answer are on the answer sheet (either on paper for the PBT or on the screen for the CBT). You can see how many correct answers you need to get for each band score using this band score converter.

 

The Academic reading test (Try our free IELTS Academic reading practice tests here)

The Academic reading test has 3 texts, each with about 700 words. and a total of 40 questions. You have 6o minutes to answer all of the questions, and just like the General Training Module, you MUST make sure all of your answer are on the answer sheet (either on paper for the PBT or on the screen for the CBT). The three texts are the same style that you would find in journals or serious magazines. You can see how many correct answers you need to get for each band score using this band score converter.

 

The General Training writing test (Try our free IELTS General Training writing practice tests here)

There are 2 tasks in the writing test. In Task 1, you need to write a 150-word letter and in Task 2 you need to write a 250-word essay. For the letter, you need to write asking for information, making a complaint, apologisigin or a range of different reasons (find out about the 5 types of Task 1 letter here). For the essay, you need to present a response to the question given (you can find out more about the 4 types of Task 2 essay here).  You have 60 minutes to complete both tasks and can do the tasks in either order (we recommend starting with Task 2 then doing Task 1). Task 1 is worth fewer overall points compared to Task 2. The points calculation can be estimated by adding your score for Task 1 + Task 2 + Task 2 (again) and dividing your number by 3. The total is then moved to the nearest half-band. (see below for an example)

The Academic writing test (Try our free IELTS Academic writing practice tests here)

There are also 2 tasks in the Academic writing test. In Task 1, you need to write a 150-word report and in Task 2 you need to write a 250-word essay. For the report, you need to write a description of what you see – this can be about a chart, graph, table, diagram or process (find out about the 6 types of Task 1 report here). For the essay, you need to present a response to the question given (you can find out more about the 4 types of Task 2 essay here). You have 60 minutes to complete both tasks and can do the tasks in either order (we recommend starting with Task 2 then doing Task 1). Task 1 is worth fewer overall points compared to Task 2. The points calculation can be estimated by adding your score for Task 1 + Task 2 + Task 2 (again) and dividing your number by 3. The total is then moved to the nearest half-band. For example:

Example 1:

Task 1: Band 6.0

Task 2: Band 7.0

Calculation: 6 + 7 + 7 = 20 divided by 3 = 6.66

Nearest band score: 6.5

Example 2:

Task 1: Band 6.0

Task 2: Band 7.5

Calculation: 6 + 7.5 + 7.5 = 21 divided by 3 = 7

Nearest band score: 7.0

Now test your understanding of the 4 parts of the IELTS test with a quick quiz. Click the link link in the table below.