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IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training?

Each organisation sets their own IELTS requirements. Check with the organisations you wish to apply to before you book your test.

Test format

The IELTS test assesses your abilities in all four skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking – in under three hours.

IELTS is available in two test formats: Academic or General Training. There are four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. The distinction between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training lies in the subject matter of the Reading and Writing components.

Listening, Reading and Writing must be completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. The order in which these tests are taken may vary.

The Speaking test will either be after a break on the same day as the other three tests, or up to a week before or after the other tests. This will depend on your test centre.

Test format – Listening

30 minutes

You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by a range of native speakers, and write your answers to a series of questions.

These include questions that test your ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, ability to understand the purpose of an utterance and the ability to follow the development of ideas.

A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used and each section is heard only once.

Section 1
A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.

Section 2
A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Section 3
A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

Section 4
A monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Learn more about what's in the IELTS Listening test

Test format – Academic Reading 

60 minutes

The Reading component consists of 40 questions. A variety of question types is used in order to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The Academic version includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. The texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. These have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

Learn more about what's in the IELTS Academic Reading test

Test format – General Training Reading

60 minutes

The Reading component consists of 40 questions. A variety of question types is used in order to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The General Training version requires test takers to read extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

Learn more about what's in the IELTS General Training Reading test

Test format – Academic Writing

60 minutes

The Writing component of IELTS Academic includes two tasks. Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Task 1
You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

Learn more about what's in the IELTS Academic Writing test

Test format – General Training Writing

60 minutes

The Writing component of IELTS General Training includes two tasks which are based on topics of general interest.

Task 1
You will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

Task 2
You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay.

Learn more about what's in the IELTS General Training Writing test

Test format – Speaking 

1114 minutes

The Speaking component assesses your use of spoken English, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is recorded. The Speaking component is delivered in such a way that it does not allow people to rehearse set responses beforehand.

Part 1
The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

Part 2
You will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have 1 minute to prepare before speaking for up to 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.

Part 3
You will be asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

Learn more about what's in the IELTS Speaking test

Listening

Academic Reading

General Training Reading

Academic Writing

General Training Writing

Speaking