IELTS Test Format

IELTS Test Format in Detail

 IELTS is an acronym which stands for International English Language Training System. The test aims to check your English language proficiency, so that you can sustain yourself in an English-speaking country. IELTS Test has been recognized by more than 6,000 organizations, government agencies and multinational companies and more.

IELTS Test has two variations: Academic and General Training

  • Academic Test is for the students, who want to study abroad.
  • General Training is attempted by people, who want to work abroad or want to migrate abroad.

IELTS Test (both Academic Test and General Training) has four parts:

  1. Reading
  2.  Writing
  3.  Listening
  4. Speaking

Note: Reading and Writing for Academic Test and General Training have variation. However, Listening and Speaking stands the same for both.

Division of Marks:

  1. Writing (60 minutes, 40 marks):

Writing section comprises of two questions. Question 1 should not be less than 150 words and question 2 should not be less than 250 words. Word limit, if remains less than the word limit mentioned, impacts the score.

In General Training paper, question 1 includes ‘ writing a letter.’  This letter can be either in a formal or non-formal, or a semi-formal setting.  Question 2 is to write a short essay. You will be given either a statement or a question.

In Academic paper, question 1 includes describing a map, chart, pie chart, table or graph. Question 2 is to write a short essay. You will be given either a statement or a question.

Tips for Writing Section:

  1. Practice IELTS tests before the main exam. This will include graph, chart, diagram and such.
  2. Do not write less than the word limit required, else it will bring down your score automatically.
  3. Understand the question well before answering (are you required to compare and contrast, discuss cause and effect or give solution to a problem).
  4. Create a rough draft or outline for your answer before the final draft. This will help you organize your ideas.
  5. Your answer should stick to the question. Strive for quality and not quantity,
  6. Keep a check on the time and spare five minutes to revise your text to edit the mistakes.

2. Reading (60 mins, 40 marks):

There are three passages given and they are taken from books, journals, magazines, newspapers etc. They are descriptive in nature. They are arranged in increasing difficulty level. There are 40 questions to be attempted in this section all together. Passage 1 and 2 have 13 questions each and passage 3 has 14 questions.  The questions can be in the form of multiple choice, match the following, labelling, one-word answer, two-word answer, sentence completion etc.

Note: Take a good care of the spellings because wrong spellings brings down the score.

Tips for Reading section:

  1. Read newspapers, magazines, journals. This section isn’t technical, but all it demands is an edge over reading. Try to figure out the meaning of the words in reference to the context, rather than switching to a dictionary immediately.
  2. Keep yourself abreast with the news because current topics are a part of the IELTS question paper.
  3. Try to read as quickly as possible, with understanding because you will have to cover the reading section in 60 minutes. Try to understand the text in one go, rather than going over and over again to the same text. This will help save your time in the exam. Comprehend chunks of words, instead of figuring out the meaning of single words.

3. Listening (40 marks, 40 minutes):

Listening is divided into 4 sub-sections and each sub-section has 10 questions each. There can be a two-person dialogue or a mono-dialogue etc. You will be given 30 minutes to listen to the recording and 10 minutes to jot down the answers in the answer booklet. The questions can be in the form of multiple choice, match the following, labelling, one-word answer, two-word answer, sentence completion etc.

Note: Listen carefully and be careful of distractors.

Tips for Listening Section:

Scoring an 8 band or above is easier in the listening section. The accent followed for the listening part is standard English. Hence, comprehending the words wouldn’t be challenging. Therefore, watch international news channels like BBC, CNN, NDTV and more to gain an expertise in speech comprehension. Also, channels like National Geographic, Discovery are a great source to prepare.

The next great platform is “TED Talks”. Here, you will not just be able to listen to varied accents and gain command over the same, but you’ll also feel motivated and boosted up with the kind of life-changing content available. Hence, hook down to YouTube and untap this major reservoir of knowledge.

Another great source are podcasts.

However, remember that as you watch and listen to the content, try to grasp as much information as possible in one go. Do not repeat the audio and video over and over again because in the exam, you will be able to listen to the audio only once, so prepare accordingly.

4. Speaking ( 40 marks, 11 to 14 minutes):

It is not conducted on the same day of Reading, Writing and Listening test. Usually it is conducted 7 days before or 7 days later. This is divided into three sections. First section includes giving your introduction. You will asked some general questions about yourself. This lasts for 4-5 minutes. In the second section, you are given a topic and you need to speak on the topic for 1-2 minutes. You be given exact 1 minute to prepare prior to speaking. So, you could note your bullet points to know exactly which way to go. The examiner during your preparation and speech. The third section includes a discussion between the examinee and the examiner. You will asked questions and you need to answer them. This lasts for 4-5 minutes.

Tips for Speaking Section:

Regular practice is the key to success when it comes to the speaking section.

(Before the Exam)

1.Read books.

  1. Watch English content like movies and shows with the subtitles on. This will help you understand the sentence structure formation and grammar placement.
  2. Think in English and reply. Avoid thinking in your mother tongue and responding in English. This is because words and sentences in native language cannot be translated into English exactly. Develop and build the practice of thinking in English and it shall provide you a better edge over Spoken English.
  3. Speak, speak, speak. Trust me, speak to your near and dear ones in English and you will overcome your hesitation and gradually, you will realize that things are building on great and you are overcoming your hurdles.

(During the Exam)

  1. Be calm. You are just communicating. Things aren’t as complicated as they look. Take it easy.
  2. Don’t rush through your words. Speak slowly and at a normal pace. This will yield you enough time to think and answer appropriately.
  3. Once you speak, ignore and stop worrying if the grammar is correct or not. Only concentrate on giving the right answers. On the contrary, if you realize that you are wrong somewhere, correct yourself. There’s nothing wrong in doing so.
  4. Refrain from giving one-word answers because it is not going to help your score. Rather it can bring down your band score.
  5. Do not overdo your gestures, but do not avoid them either. Strike a balance because that reflects your confidence.
  6. Ask the examiner to repeat or clarify the question if things are unclear.
  7. Remember, getting the question right is better that a low score.

All the Best!!

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