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What is an IELTS exam?

What is IELTS?

IELTS is an abbreviation for the International English Language Testing System

Itwas established in 1989.

The test is an international standardised test of English language proficiency designed for non-native English language speakers. IELTS is managed by Cambridge English Language Assessment, IDP Education Pvt Ltd and the British Council.

IELTS has 2 test versions and they are the Academic Version and the General Training Version:

  • The Academic Version is for Australia is intended for certain occupations such as doctors and Accountants as part of their “Skills Assessment “
  • The General Training Version is usually done for Australia migration, unless the assessing authority requires the academic test.

In 2007, in a single 12-month period, IELTS had tested over a million applicants for the first time ever. This made IELTS the world's most popular English language test for higher education and immigration.

Applicants are required to complete 4 Modules - These would consist of Reading, Writing Speaking and Listening. All applicants would do the same Listening and Speaking Modules; however the Reading and Writing Modules would differ, depending on whether the candidate is taking the Academic or General test.




For the Academic test, the reading test has 3 sections, which normally has 3 texts, followed by 13 or 14 questions for an overall total of 40 questions. The General test also comprises of 3 sections, however the texts are much shorter, so there can be up to 5 texts.


For the Academic test, there are 2 tasks. For the first task, candidates are required to describe a graph, diagram, process or chart, and for the second task, applicants would respond to an argument. For the General test, there are also 2 tasks. In the first task, candidates are required to write a letter or an explanation of a situation. In the second task, applicants would write an essay.


The speaking part of the test comprises of 3 sections. The first section would be an interview scenario, during which applicants could be asked to speak on the following.  They would speak on their hobbies, personal interests and reasons for taking IELTS exam as well as other general subject or topics. For the second section, applicants are given a topic card. Applicants would be given one minute to prepare, to speak on this topic. The 3rd section would be a discussion between the candidate and the examiner. This would most likely be questions relating to the theme which they have already spoken about in the previous section. This last section is broader in terms of topics and is considered the most difficult.


This section has 4 sections of increasing difficulty. This would usually take 40 minutes. The first 30 minutes would be for testing and then the remaining 10 minutes for writing answers to the answer sheet. Each section would begin with a short introduction telling the applicants about the situation and the speakers. The first 3 sections would have a break in the middle allowing candidates to look at their remaining questions. Each section is only heard once by the applicant. At the end of this section applicants have 10 minutes to put their answers on the answer sheet.

Duration of the test

The total duration of the test is approximately 3 hours.

Listening: 40 minutes

Reading: 60 minutes.

Writing: 60 minutes.

Speaking: 11–15 minutes.

Practice hard and all the best for your test

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