IELTS Exam Syllabus
A Complete Guide


IELTS Exam Syllabus
A Complete Guide

IELTS Exam Pattern & Syllabus

Deconstructing the IELTS demands a keen understanding of its intricate pattern. The IELTS syllabus is partitioned into four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, with a cumulative duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes

Section Description No. of Questions Duration
IELTS Syllabus -Listening This section consists of four recorded monologues and dialogues. 40 30 +10 minutes
IELTS Syllabus -Reading This section contains three long passages, and tasks are assigned to each passage. The texts under the reading section are descriptive, factual, discursive and analytical. It also includes non-verbal content like diagrams and graphs. These texts are taken from books, journals and newspapers. 40 60 minutes
IELTS Syllabus - Writing This section consists of two tasks. The first task is a summarisation/explanation of the given table, graph or diagram in at least 150 words.
The second task is writing an essay of at least 250 words.
2 60 minutes
IELTS Syllabus - Speaking This session is a face-to-face interview that includes brief questions and talking in detail about a particular topic. 3 11-14 minutes

IELTS Listening Section

The Listening section evaluates your comprehension of spoken English and is identical for both the Academic and General Training versions of the test.

Duration: Roughly 30 minutes, plus an additional 10 minutes to transcribe your responses onto the answer sheet.

Number of Questions: 40

Types of Tasks: Includes multiple-choice, matching exercises, labelling plans/maps/diagrams, and completing sentences.

Structure: The Listening test consists of four parts:

  1. Part 1: A dialogue between two individuals in a common social setting.
  2. Part 2: A single-person speech in a typical social situation, such as a presentation about local amenities or directions to a festival.
  3. Part 3: A discussion involving up to four people in an educational or training context, like a conversation between a university tutor and a student about an assignment.
  4. Part 4: A solo lecture on a scholarly topic, for example, a university lecture.

The audio recordings played only once, feature a range of accents and dialects. Test participants must answer questions while listening to these recordings. Effective note-taking and the ability to follow and understand conversations or monologues, especially on unfamiliar subjects, are crucial skills to develop for this test.

IELTS Reading Section

The Reading portion of the test evaluates your comprehension of written English. It differs from the IELTS Academic and General Training tests.

In Academic Reading, you'll encounter three lengthy texts varying from descriptive and factual to analytical and argumentative. These are sourced from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers, tailored for those entering university or professional fields.

Duration: 60 minutes.

Number of Questions: 40.

Tasks Include: Multiple choice, identifying information, discerning the author's views/claims, matching information, headings, and features, matching sentence endings, completing sentences, summaries, notes, tables, flow-charts, diagram labels, and responding to short-answer questions.

The General Training Reading section comprises selections from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company manuals, and guidelines. These represent typical material found in English-speaking settings.

Duration: 60 minutes.

Number of Questions: 40.

Task Types: Similar to those in Academic Reading, but with a focus on everyday life scenarios.

IELTS Writing Section

The Writing section evaluates your proficiency in composing essays and explaining visual data in English.

Academic Writing: Comprises two tasks.

Task 1: Involves interpreting a graph, table, chart, or diagram, and explaining it in your own words. This task measures your skill in identifying key information and trends from visuals.

Task 2: Requires writing an essay in reaction to a perspective, argument, or issue. This task judges your ability to construct a coherent, relevant, and structured argument, supported by evidence or examples.

Duration: 60 minutes total (20 minutes for Task 1, 40 minutes for Task 2)

Word Count: Maximum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2

General Training Writing: Also contains two tasks.

Task 1: Involves writing a letter to either request information or explain a situation. This task evaluates your capability in personal communication, expressing and supporting opinions, contrasting evidence, and conveying emotions.

Task 2: Similar to the second task in Academic Writing, it requires writing an essay based on a given point of view, argument, or issue.

Duration: 60 minutes total (20 minutes for Task 1, 40 minutes for Task 2)

Word Count: Maximum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2.

IELTS Speaking Section

The Speaking section assesses your ability to communicate clearly in English.

Both the Academic and General Training versions of the test share the same structure, divided into three parts:

Part 1: Opening and Interview (duration: 4-5 minutes): Initially, the examiner introduces themselves, followed by your introduction and confirmation of identity. This part involves questions about familiar subjects like your home, family, profession, educational background, and personal interests.

Part 2: Extended Response (duration: 3-4 minutes): In this part, you'll be given a task card instructing you to speak on a specific topic. You'll have a minute for preparation and note-taking, after which you're expected to talk for 1-2 minutes. Subsequently, the examiner might ask one or two supplementary questions on the same topic.

Part 3: In-depth Discussion (duration: 4-5 minutes): Here, the examiner poses additional questions related to the topic from part 2. This section evaluates your skills in justifying your views, analyzing and discussing topics, and hypothesizing about various subjects.

Given the IELTS test's worldwide importance, thorough preparation is crucial for examinees. This involves more than just learning English; it encompasses familiarization with the test's format and developing effective test-taking strategies. Utilizing available resources, including practice materials, specialist-led training sessions, and support tools, can significantly boost your readiness and confidence for the test.

Given its global significance, it is imperative for test-takers to prepare diligently for the IELTS test. Preparation is not limited to just understanding the English language but also mastering the test format and honing test-taking strategies. Leveraging available resources such as practice materials, expert-led masterclass sessions, and support tools can greatly enhance one's preparedness and confidence on test day. 

As with any examination, thorough preparation and practice are key to achieving a desirable score and, ultimately, realising one's academic, professional, or migration aspirations. Get in touch with our academic counsellors at AECC to get exclusive insights on IELTS test preparation tips.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the structure of the IELTS exam?
The IELTS exam consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

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