The writing exam is done on the basis of comprehension prowess and ability to convey your thoughts. This test takes 60 minutes and is divided into 2 parts:
- Task 1 candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
- In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Both the parts should be written in a formal style.
The reading test takes 60 minutes and is divided into three sections. Each section will have an academic reading of about 600 words and you will have to answers 40 questions in total. It pertains to the following:
- Each section contains one long text.
- Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest. Hence they are easy to comprehend.
- The difficulty of the texts is in accordance with candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration.
- Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided.
Listening is often considered the most difficult part of the IELTS exams. Not only does it test you listening skills, but it also tests your memory and ability to grasp the given situations. The listening test takes 40 minutes and is divided into four sections, each one slightly harder than the first. There are 40 questions. You'll have to listen to each section and answer the questions as you listen. You will have remember the small details of conversation and understand the various dialects and accents of the people speaking. The breakdown of this section is thus:
- The test takes approximately 30 minutes. You will have an additional ten minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet.
- The audio will only be played once
- A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used.
- You will hear conversations and monologues, with topics ranging from the everyday social to the academic.
- A variety of question types are used, including multiple choice, form completion, note completion, summary completion, sentence completion and short-answer questions.
This section involves a basic interview of sorts where the examiner will ask you various question you will have to answer to the best of your abilities. The exam is recorder lasts from 12 to 15 minutes. The exam is separated in 3 sections:
- Introduction and interview: Examiner introduces him/herself and checks your name. The examiner then asks you questions on general topics. It lasts 4-5 minutes.
- Individual long turn: Examiner gives you a written task card. You have 1 minute to think (take notes) before you have to speak for 1–2 minutes. Examiner asks one or two questions at the end of your talk. Last for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Two way discussion: The examiner then discuses some abstract issues and concepts which are thematically linked to the topic of your talk in Part 2. Lasts 4 to 5 minutes.
It should be noted that the Speaking exam takes place separately from the Reading, writing and listening exam on a different day.
The scoring of IELTS is based on a band of 1 to 9. Each section is separately marked with the total score being the average of the 4 sections. Most universities generally ask for a minimum score of 6.5 on all for sections while better universities might as for more.