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IELTS Listening description

Paper element Description
Paper format Four sections, each with ten questions. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in order in the listening. The first two sections deal with situations set in everyday social contexts. There is a conversation between two speakers in Section 1 (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements) and a monologue in Section 2 (for example, a speech about local facilities). The final two sections deal with situations set in educational and training contexts. In Section 3 there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor), and Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject. The recordings are heard once only. They include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand and American.
Timing Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes' transfer time).
No. of questions 40
Task types A variety of questions is used, chosen from the following types: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion.
Answering During the Listening test test takers write their answers on the question paper as they listen and at the end of the test are given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to an answer sheet. Care should be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.
Marks All questions carry 1 mark.

IELTS Listening in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Task type 1 – Multiple choice

Task type and format In this task type, there is a question followed by three possible answers, or the beginning of a sentence followed by three possible sentence endings. Test takers are required to choose the one correct answer A, B or C.
Sometimes test takers are given a longer list of possible answers and told that they have to choose more than one. In this case they should read the question carefully to check how many answers are required.
Task focus This task type is used to test a wide range of skills. It may require the test taker to have a detailed understanding of specific points or an overall understanding of the main points of the listening text.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 2 – Matching

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to match a numbered list of items from the listening text to a set of options on the question paper. The set of options may be criteria of some kind.
Many variations of this task type are possible with regards the type of options to be matched.
Task focus This task type assesses the skill of listening for detail. It assesses whether a test taker can understand information given in a conversation on an everyday topic such as different types of hotel or guest house accommodation. It also assesses the ability to follow a conversation involving interaction between two people. It may also be used to assess test takers’ ability to recognise relationships and connections between facts in the listening text.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 3 – Plan, map, diagram labelling

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to complete labels on a visual. The answers are usually selected from a list on the question paper. The visual may be: a diagram (e.g. a piece of equipment), a set of pictures, a plan (e.g. of a building), a map (e.g. of part of a town).
Task focus This task type assesses the ability to understand, for example, a description of a place, and to relate this to a visual representation. This may include being able to follow language expressing spatial relationships and directions (e.g. straight on/through the far door).
No. of questions Variable

Task type 4 – Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to fill in gaps in an outline of part or of all of the listening text. The outline will focus on the main ideas/facts in the text. It may be: 1) a form: often used to record factual details such as names; 2) a set of notes: used to summarise any type of information using the layout to show how different items relate to one another, 3) a table: used as a way of summarising information which relates to clear categories – e.g. place/time/price, 4) a flow-chart: used to summarise a process which has clear stages, with the direction of the process shown by arrows. Test takers may have to: a) select their answers from a list on the question paper; b) identify the missing words from the recording which fit into the form/notes, etc. In this case, they should keep to the word limit stated in the instructions. Test takers do not have to change the words from the recording in any way. Test takers should read the instructions very carefully as the number of words or numbers they should use to fill the gaps will vary. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’. Test takers are penalised for writing more than the stated number of words, and test takers should check this word limit carefully for each task. Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.
Task focus This task type focuses on the main points which a listener would naturally record in this type of situation.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 5 – Sentence completion

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to read a set of sentences summarising key information from all the listening text or from one part of it. They have to complete a gap in each sentence using information from the listening text. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER’. Test takers are penalised for writing more than the stated number of words. (Test takers should check this word limit carefully for each task: the limit is either ONE, TWO or THREE words). Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.
Task focus This task type focuses on the ability to identify the key information in a listening text. Test takers have to understand functional relationships such as cause and effect.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 6 – Short-answer questions

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to read a question to which they have to write a short answer using information from the listening text. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’. Test takers are penalised for writing more than the stated number of words. (Test takers should check this word limit carefully for each task.) Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. Sometimes test takers are given a question which asks them to list two or three points.
Task focus This task type focuses on the ability to listen for concrete facts – such as places, prices or times – given in the listening text.
No. of questions Variable

IELTS Listening – how it's marked

The Listening test is marked by certificated markers, who are regularly monitored to ensure reliability. After marking at the test centre, all answer sheets are returned to Cambridge English Language Assessment for analysis.

Band score conversion
A Band Score conversion table is produced for each version of the Listening test which translates scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.

One mark is awarded for each correct answer in the 40-item test. A confidential Band Score conversion table is produced for each version of the Listening test, which translates scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands. Care should be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.

IELTS Academic Reading description

Paper element Description
Paper format Three reading passages with a variety of questions using a number of task types.
Timing 60 minutes
No. of questions 40
Task types A variety of questions are used, chosen from the following types; multiple choice, identifying information, identifying writer’s views/claims, matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.
Sources Texts are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers and have been written for a non-specialist audience. All the topics are of general interest. They deal with issues which are interesting, recognisably appropriate and accessible to test takers entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. The passages may be written in a variety of styles, for example narrative, descriptive or discursive/argumentative. At least one text contains detailed logical argument. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms then a simple glossary is provided.
Answering Test takers are required to transfer their answers to an answer sheet. Test takers must transfer their answers during the time allowed for the test. No extra time is allowed for transfer. Care should be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.
Marks All questions carry 1 mark.

IELTS Academic Reading in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Task type 1 – Multiple choice

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to choose the best answer from four alternatives A, B, C or D, or the best two answers from five alternatives A, B, C, D or E, or the best three answers from seven alternatives A, B, C, D, E, F or G. Test takers write the letter of the answer they have chosen on the answer sheet. The questions may involve completing a sentence, in which the ‘stem’ gives the first part of a sentence and test takers choose the best way to complete it from the options, or could involve complete questions, with the test takers choosing the option which best answers them. The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be located in the text before the answer to the second question, and so on. This task type may be used with any type of text.
Task focus This task type tests a wide range of reading skills including detailed understanding of specific points or an overall understanding of the main points of the text.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 2 – Identifying information

Task type and format The test takers will be given a number of statements and asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the information in the text?’. Test takers are required to write ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘not given’ in the boxes on their answer sheets. It is important to understand the difference between 'false' and 'not given'. 'False' means that the passage states the opposite of the statement in question; 'not given' means that the statement is neither confirmed nor contradicted by the information in the passage. (Students need to understand that any knowledge they bring with them from outside the passage should not play a part when deciding on their answers.)
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to recognise particular points of information conveyed in the text. It can thus be used with more factual texts.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 3 – Identifying writer’s views/claims

Task type and format The test takers will be given a number of statements and asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer?’. Test takers are required to write ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘not given’ in the boxes on their answer sheet. It is important to understand the difference between 'no' and 'not given'. 'No' means that the views or claims of the writer explicitly disagree with the statement, i.e. the writer somewhere expresses the view or makes a claim which is opposite to the one given in the question; 'not given' means that the view or claim is neither confirmed nor contradicted. (Students needs to understand that any knowledge they bring with them from outside the passage should not play a part when deciding on their answers.)
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to recognise opinions or ideas, and is thus often used with discursive or argumentative texts.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 4 – Matching information

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to locate specific information in the lettered paragraphs/sections of a text, and to write the letters of the correct paragraphs/sections in the boxes on their answer sheet. They may be asked to find: specific details, an example, a reason, a description, a comparison, a summary, an explanation. They will not necessarily need to find information in every paragraph/section of the text, but there may be more than one piece of information that test takers need to locate in a given paragraph/section. When this is the case, they will be told that they can use any letter more than once. This task type can be used with any text as it may test a wide range of reading skills, from locating detail to recognising a summary or definition, etc.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to scan for specific information. Unlike task type 5 (Matching headings), it is concerned with specific information rather than with the main idea.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 5 – Matching headings

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are given a list of headings, usually identified with lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc,). A heading will refer to the main idea of the paragraph or section of the text. Test takers must match the heading to the correct paragraphs or sections, which are marked alphabetically. Test takers write the appropriate Roman numerals in the boxes on their answer sheets. There will always be more headings than there are paragraphs or sections, so that some headings will not be used. It is also possible that some paragraphs or sections may not be included in the task. One or more paragraphs or sections may already be matched with a heading as an example for test takers. This task type is used with texts that contain paragraphs or sections with clearly defined themes.
Task focus This task type tests the test takers’s ability to recognise the main idea or theme in the paragraphs or sections of a text, and to distinguish main ideas from supporting ones.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 6 – Matching features

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to match a set of statements or pieces of information to a list of options. The options are a group of features from the text, and are identified by letters. Test takers may, for example, be required to match different research findings to a list of researchers, or characteristics to age groups, events to historical periods, etc. It is possible that some options will not be used, and that others may be used more than once. The instructions will inform test takers if options may be used more than once.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to recognise relationships and connections between facts in the text and their ability to recognise opinions and theories. It may be used both with texts dealing with factual information as well as opinion-based discursive texts. Test takers need to be able to skim and scan the text in order to locate the required information and to read for detail.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 7 – Matching sentence endings

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are given the first half of a sentence based on the text and choose the best way to complete it from a list of possible options. They will have more options to choose from than there are questions. Test takers must write the letter they have chosen on the answer sheet. The questions are in the same order as the information in the passage: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be found before the answer to the second question, and so on. This task type may be used with any type of text.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to understand the main ideas.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 8 – Sentence completion

Task type and format This task type requires test takers to complete sentences in a given number of words taken from the text. Test takers must write their answers on the answer sheet. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The questions are in the same order as the information in the passage: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be found before the answer to the second question, and so on. This task type may be used with any type of text.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to locate detail/specific information.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 9 – Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

Task type and format With this task type, test takers are given some type of summary of a section of the text, and are required to complete it with information drawn from the text. Note that the summary will usually be of only one part of the passage rather than the whole. The given information may be in the form of: several connected sentences of text (referred to as a summary), several notes (referred to as notes), a table with some of its cells empty or partially empty (referred to as a table), a series of boxes or steps linked by arrows to show a sequence of events, with some of the boxes or steps empty or partially empty (referred to as a flow-chart).
The answers will not necessarily occur in the same order as in the text. However, they will usually come from one section rather than the entire text.
There are two variations of this task type. Test takers may be asked either to select words from the text or to select from a list of answers.
Where words have to be selected from the passage, the instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark.
Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words are not tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.
Where a list of answers is provided, they most frequently consist of a single word.
Because this task type often relates to precise factual information, it is often used with descriptive texts.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to understand details and/or the main ideas of a section of the text. In the variations involving a summary or notes, test takers need to be aware of the type of word(s) that will fit into a given gap (for example, whether a noun is needed, or a verb, etc.).
No. of questions Variable

Task type 10 – Diagram label completion

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to complete labels on a diagram which relates to a description contained in the text. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The answers do not necessarily occur in order in the passage. However, they will usually come from one section rather than the entire text. The diagram may be of some type of machine, or of parts of a building or of any other element that can be represented pictorially. This task type is often used with texts describing processes or with descriptive texts.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to understand a detailed description, and to relate it to information presented in the form of a diagram.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 11 – Short-answer questions

Task type and format This task type requires test takers to answer questions, which usually relate to factual information, about details in the text. Thus it is most likely to be used with a text that contains a lot of factual information and detail.
Test takers must write their answers in words or numbers on the answer sheet. 
Test takers must write their answers using words from the text. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark.
Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words are not tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.
The questions are in the same order as the information in the text.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to locate and understand precise information in the text.
No. of questions Variable

IELTS Academic Reading - How it's marked

The Academic Reading test is marked by certificated markers, who are regularly monitored to ensure reliability. After marking at the test centre, all answer sheets are returned to Cambridge English Language Assessment for analysis.

Band score conversion
A Band Score conversion table is produced for each version of the Academic Reading test which translates scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.

IELTS General Training Reading description

Paper element Description
Paper format There are three sections. Section 1 may contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts. Section 2 comprises two texts. In Section 3 there is one long text.
Timing 60 minutes
No. of questions 40
Task types A variety of questions are used, chosen from the following types: multiple choice, identifying information, identifying writer’s views/claims, matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.
Sources The first section, ‘social survival’, contains texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English with tasks mainly about retrieving and providing general factual information, for example, notices, advertisements and timetables. The second section, ‘Workplace survival’, focuses on the workplace context, for example, job descriptions, contracts and staff development and training materials. The third section, ‘general reading’, involves reading more extended prose with a more complex structure but with the emphasis on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts, in a general context relevant to the wide range of test takers involved, for example, newspapers, magazines and fictional and non-fictional book extracts.
Answering Test takers are required to transfer their answers to an answer sheet. Test takers must transfer their answers during the time allowed for the test. No extra time is allowed for transfer. Care should be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.
Marks All questions carry 1 mark.

IELTS General Training Reading in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Task type 1 – Multiple choice

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to choose the best answer from four alternatives A, B, C or D, or the best two answers from five alternatives A, B, C, D or E, or the best three answers from seven alternatives A, B, C, D, E, F or G. Test takers write the letter of the answer they have chosen on the answer sheet. The questions may involve completing a sentence, in which the ‘stem’ gives the first part of a sentence and test takers choose the best way to complete it from the options, or could involve complete questions, with the test takers choosing the option which best answers them. The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be located in the text before the answer to the second question, and so on. This task type may be used with any type of text.
Task focus This task type tests a wide range of reading skills including detailed understanding of specific points or an overall understanding of the main points of the text.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 2 – Identifying information

Task type and format The test taker will be given a number of statements and asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the information in the text?’. Test takers are required to write ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘not given’ in the boxes on their answer sheets. The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be located in the text before the answer to the second question and so on. It is important to understand the difference between 'false' and 'not given'. 'False' means that the passage states the opposite of the statement in question; 'not given' means that the statement is neither confirmed nor contradicted by the information in the passage. (Students need to understand that any knowledge they bring with them from outside the passage should not play a part when deciding on their answers.)
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers' ability to recognise particular points of information conveyed in the text. It can thus be used with more factual texts.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 3 – Identifying writer’s views/claims

Task type and format The test taker will be given a number of statements and asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer?’. Test takers are required to write ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘not given’ in the boxes on their answer sheet. The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be located in the text before the answer to the second question, and so on. It is important to understand the difference between 'no' and 'not given'. 'No' means that the views or claims of the writer explicitly disagree with the statement, i.e. the writer somewhere expresses the view or makes a claim which is opposite to the one given in the question; 'not given' means that the view or claim is neither confirmed nor contradicted. (Students need to understand that any knowledge they bring with them from outside the passage should not play a part when deciding on their answers.)
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to recognise opinions or ideas, and is thus often used with discursive or argumentative texts.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 4 – Matching information

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to locate specific information in the lettered paragraphs/sections of a text, and to write the letters of the correct paragraphs/sections in the boxes on their answer sheet. They may be asked to find; specific details, an example, a reason, a description, a comparison, a summary, an explanation. They will not necessarily need to find information in every paragraph/section of the text, but there may be more than one piece of information that test takers need to locate in a given paragraph/section. When this is the case, they will be told that they can use any letter more than once. The questions do not follow the same order as the information in the text. This task type can be used with any text as it may test a wide range of reading skills, from locating detail to recognising a summary or definition, etc.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to scan for specific information. Unlike task type 5 (Matching headings), it is concerned with specific information rather than with the main idea.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 5 – Matching headings

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are given a list of headings, usually identified with lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.). A heading will refer to the main idea of the paragraph or section of the text. Test takers must match the heading to the correct paragraphs or sections, which are marked alphabetically. Test takers write the appropriate Roman numerals in the boxes on their answer sheets. There will always be more headings than there are paragraphs or sections, so that some headings will not be used. It is also possible that some paragraphs or sections may not be included in the task. One or more paragraphs or sections may already be matched with a heading as an example for test takers. No heading may be used more than once. This task type is used with texts that contain paragraphs or sections with clearly defined themes.
Task focus This task type tests the test takers’s ability to recognise the main idea or theme in the paragraphs or sections of a text, and to distinguish main ideas from supporting ones.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 6 – Matching features

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to match a set of statements or pieces of information to a list of options. The options are a group of features from the text, and are identified by letters. Test takers may, for example, be required to match different characteristics to age groups or events to historical periods, etc. It is possible that some options will not be used, and that others may be used more than once. The instructions will inform test takers if options may be used more than once. The questions do not follow the same order as the information in the text.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers' ability to recognise relationships and connections between facts in the text and their ability to recognise opinions and theories. It may be used both with texts dealing with factual information, description or narrative. Test takers need to be able to skim and scan the text in order to locate the required information and to read for detail.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 7 – Matching sentence endings

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are given the first half of a sentence based on the text and choose the best way to complete it from a list of possible options. They will have more options to choose from than there are questions. Test takers must write the letter they have chosen on the answer sheet. The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be found before the answer to the second question, and so on. This task type may be used with any type of text.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to understand the main ideas.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 8 – Sentence completion

Task type and format This task type requires test takers to complete sentences in a given number of words taken from the text. Test takers must write their answers on the answer sheet. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The questions are in the same order as the information in the passage: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be found before the answer to the second question, and so on. This task type may be used with any type of text.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to locate detail/specific information.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 9 – Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

Task type and format With this task type, test takers are given some type of summary of a section of the text, and are required to complete it with information drawn from the text. Note that the summary will usually be of only one part of the passage rather than the whole. The given information may be in the form of; several connected sentences of text (referred to as a summary), several notes (referred to as notes), a table with some of its cells empty or partially empty (referred to as a table), a series of boxes or steps linked by arrows to show a sequence of events, with some of the boxes or steps empty or partially empty (referred to as a flow-chart). The answers will not necessarily occur in the same order as in the text. However, they will usually come from one section rather than the entire text. There are two variations of this task type. Test takers may be asked either to select words from the text or to select from a list of answers. Where words have to be selected from the passage, the instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words are not tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. Where a list of answers is provided, they most frequently consist of a single word, There are always more words or phrases in the box than there are gaps to fill. Because this task type often relates to precise factual information, it is often used with descriptive texts.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to understand details and/or the main ideas of a section of the text. In the variations involving a summary or notes, test takers need to be aware of the type of word(s) that will fit into a given gap (for example, whether a noun is needed, or a verb, etc.).
No. of questions Variable

Task type 10 – Diagram label completion

Task type and format In this task type, test takers are required to complete labels on a diagram which relates to a description contained in the text. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The answers do not necessarily occur in order in the passage. However, they will usually come from one section rather than the entire text. The diagram may be of some type of machine, or of parts of a building or of any other element that can be represented pictorially. This task type is often used with texts describing processes or with descriptive texts.
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to understand a detailed description, and to relate it to information presented in the form of a diagram.
No. of questions Variable

Task type 11 – Short-answer questions

Task type and format
This task type requires test takers to answer questions, which usually relate to factual information, about details in the text. Thus it is most likely to be used with a text that contains a lot of factual information and detail. Test takers must write their answers in words or numbers on the answer sheet. Test takers must write their answers using words from the text. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words are not tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question in this group will be located in the test before the answer to the second question, and so on. 
Task focus This task type assesses the test takers’s ability to locate and understand precise information in the text.
No. of questions Variable

IELTS General Training Reading - How it's marked

The General Training Reading test is marked by certificated markers, who are regularly monitored to ensure reliability. After marking at the test centre, all answer sheets are returned to Cambridge English Language Assessment for analysis.

Band score conversion
A band score conversion table is produced for each version of the General Training Reading test which translates scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.

IELTS Academic Writing description

Paper element Description
Paper format There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.
Timing 60 minutes
No. of questions 2
Task types In Task 1 test takers are asked to describe some visual information (graph/table/chart/diagram), and to present the description in their own words. They need to write 150 words in about 20 minutes. In Task 2 test takers are presented with a point of view or argument or problem. They need to write 250 words in about 40 minutes.
Answering Answers must be given on the answer sheet and must be written in full. Notes or bullet points in whole or in part are not acceptable as answers. Test takers may write on the question paper but this cannot be taken from the examination room and will not be seen by the examiner.

IELTS Academic Writing in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Task 1

Task type and format In Writing Task 1, test takers may be asked to describe facts or figures presented in one or more graphs, charts or tables on a related topic; or they may be given a diagram of a machine, a device or a process and asked to explain how it works. Test takers should make sure to include the most important and the most relevant points in the diagram. Some minor points or details may be left out.
They should write in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style.
Test takers should spend no more than 20 minutes on this task. They are asked to write at least 150 words and will be penalised if their answer is too short. While test takers will not be penalised for writing more than 150 words, they should remember that a longer Task 1 answer may mean that they have less time to spend on Task 2, which contributes twice as much to the Writing band score. 
Test takers should also note that they will be penalised for irrelevance if the response is off-topic or is not written as full, connected text (e.g. using bullet points in any part of the response, or note form, etc.). They will be severely penalised if their writing is plagiarised (i.e. copied from another source). 
Test takers must write their answers on the answer booklet.
Task focus This task assesses the test takers’s ability to identify the most important and relevant information and trends in a graph, chart, table or diagram, and to give a well-organised overview of it using language accurately in an academic register or style.
No. of questions 1

Task 2

Task type and format In Writing Task 2, test takers are given a topic to write about. Answers should be a discursive consideration of the relevant issues. Test takers should make sure that they read the task carefully and provide a full and relevant response. For example, if the topic is a particular aspect of computers, they should focus on this aspect in their response. They should not simply write about computers in general.
They should write in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style. 
Test takers should spend no more than 40 minutes on this task. They are asked to write at least 250 words and will be penalised if their answer is too short. While test takers will not be penalised for writing more than 250 words, if they write a very long answer they may not have time for checking and correcting at the end and some ideas may not be directly relevant to the question. They may also produce handwriting which is unclear.
Task 2 contributes twice as much to the final Writing band score as Task 1. Therefore, test takers who fail to attempt to answer this task will greatly reduce their chance of achieving a good band.
Test takers should also note that they will be penalised for irrelevance if the response is off-topic or is not written as full, connected text (e.g. using bullet points in any part of the response, or note form, etc.). They will be severely penalised if their writing is plagiarised (i.e. copied from another source). Finally, test takers should make sure that they do not copy directly from the question paper because this will not be assessed. 
Test takers must write their answers on the answer booklet.
Task focus This task assesses the test takers’s ability to present a clear, relevant, well-organised argument, giving evidence or examples to support their ideas, and to use language accurately.
No. of questions 1

IELTS Academic Writing - How it's marked

Marking and assessment

Each task is assessed independently. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.

Writing responses are assessed by certificated IELTS examiners. All IELTS examiners hold relevant teaching qualifications and are recruited as examiners by the test centres and approved by British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands. Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe written performance at the nine IELTS bands. Public versions of these descriptors are available on the How IELTS is scored page. The descriptors apply to both the Academic and General Training Modules and are based on the following criteria.

Task 1 responses are assessed on:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Task 2 responses are assessed on:

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Task 1

Task achievement
This criterion assesses how appropriately, accurately and relevantly the response fulfils the requirements set out in the task, using the minimum of 150 words. Academic Writing Task 1 is a writing task which has a defined input and a largely predictable output. It is basically an information-transfer task which relates narrowly to the factual content of an input diagram and not to speculated explanations that lie outside the given data. 

Coherence and cohesion
This criterion is concerned with the overall clarity and fluency of the message: how the response organises and links information, ideas and language. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas through logical sequencing. Cohesion refers to the varied and appropriate use of cohesive devices (for example, logical connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) to assist in making the conceptual and referential relationships between and within sentences clear.

Lexical resource
This criterion refers to the range of vocabulary the test takers have used and the accuracy and appropriacy of that use in terms of the specific task.

Grammatical range and accuracy
This criterion refers to the range and accurate use of the test takers' grammatical resource as manifested in their test takers's writing at the sentence level.

Task 2

Task response
In both Academic and General Training Modules Task 2 requires the test takers to formulate and develop a position in relation to a given prompt in the form of a question or statement. Ideas should be supported by evidence, and examples may be drawn from the test takers’ own experience. Responses must be at least 250 words in length. Scripts under the required minimum word limit will be penalised.

Coherence and cohesion
This criterion is concerned with the overall clarity and fluency of the message: how the response organises and links information, ideas and language. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas through logical sequencing. Cohesion refers to the varied and appropriate use of cohesive devices (for example, logical connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) to assist in making the conceptual and referential relationships between and within sentences clear.

Lexical resource
This criterion refers to the range of vocabulary the test takers have used and the accuracy and appropriacy of that use in terms of the specific task.

Grammatical range and accuracy
This criterion refers to the range and accurate use of the test takers' grammatical resource as manifested in their test takers’s writing at the sentence level.

IELTS General Training Writing description

Paper element Description
Paper format There are two Writing tasks to complete.
Timing 60 minutes
No. of questions 2
Task types In Task 1, test takers are asked to respond to a situation, by writing a letter for example, requesting information or explaining a situation.
In Task 2, test takers write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.
Answering Answers must be given on the answer booklet and must be written in full. Notes or bullet points in whole or in part are not acceptable as answers. Test takers may write on the question paper but this cannot be taken from the examination room and will not be seen by the examiner.

IELTS General Training Writing in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Task 1

Task type and format In Writing Task 1, test takers are presented with a situation and required to write a personal response in the form of an informal, semi-formal or formal letter of at least 150 words. They are told what kind of information (in the form of three bullet points) they must include in their response.
Test takers may be required to request or give information and/or explain a situation. To do this, they may need to do some of the following: ask for and/or provide general factual information, express needs, wants, likes or dislikes, express opinions or complaints, make requests or make suggestions/recommendations.
The situations they are asked to write about are common, everyday ones such as: writing to a college accommodation officer about problems with accommodation, writing to a new employer about time management problems they are having, writing to a local newspaper about a plan to develop a local airport, writing to a renting agency to sort out problems with the heating system in their house.
The style of writing that test takers use depends who they are asked to write to (i.e. the audience) and how well they are supposed to know them. They need to write in a style that is appropriate for their audience and that will help them to achieve their purpose for writing, e.g. writing to a friend (informal) or writing to a manager (semi-formal or formal). 
Test takers should spend no more than 20 minutes on this task. They are asked to write at least 150 words and will be penalised if their answer is too short. While test takers will not be penalised for writing more than 150 words, they should remember that a longer Task 1 answer may mean that they have less time to spend on Task 2, which contributes twice as much to the Writing band score.
Test takers should also note that they will be penalised for irrelevance if the response is off-topic or is not written as full, connected text (e.g. using bullet points in any part of the response, or note form, etc.). They will be severely penalised if their writing is plagiarised (i.e. copied from another source). 
Test takers do not need to include any addresses at the head of their letters.
Test takers must write their answers on the answer booklet provided.
Task focus This task assesses the test takers' ability to follow English letter-writing conventions (i.e. what order to put information in, what style to use, how to start and finish a letter), to use language accurately and appropriately and to organise and link information coherently and cohesively.
No. of questions 1

Task 2

Task type and format In Writing Task 2, test takers are asked to write a semi-formal/neutral discursive essay of at least 250 words.
The task instructions give information about a point of view, argument or problem. The instructions then tell test takers how to discuss this, which may involve providing general factual information, outlining and/or presenting a solution, justifying an opinion, evaluating evidence and ideas.
Test takers need to write about general interest topics, such as: whether children’s leisure activities should be educational, why families are not so close as they used to be and how they could be brought closer, how environmental problems can be solved, who should pay for the care of old people, whether smoking should be banned in public places. 
Test takers should make sure that they complete the task carefully and provide a full and relevant response. They should organise their ideas clearly and make sure to support their argument with relevant examples (including from their own experience where relevant) or evidence. For this task, test takers need to be able to communicate more abstract and complex ideas and use a range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Task 2 contributes twice as much to the final Writing band score as Task 1. Therefore, test takers who fail to attempt to answer this task will greatly reduce their chance of achieving a good score.
Test takers are asked to write at least 250 words and will be penalised if their answer is too short. Test takers should spend no more than 40 minutes on this task.
Test takers should also note that they will be penalised for irrelevance if the response is off-topic or is not written as full, connected text (e.g. using bullet points in any part of the response, or note form, etc.). They will be severely penalised if their writing is plagiarised (i.e. copied from another source).
Test takers must write their answers on the answer booklet provided.
Task focus This task assesses the test takers' ability to follow English discursive writing conventions (i.e. what order to put information in, what style to use, how to start and finish discursive writing, how to paragraph), to organise and link information coherently and cohesively and to use language accurately and appropriately.
No. of questions 1

IELTS General Training Writing - How it's marked

Marking and assessment

Each task is assessed independently. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.

Writing responses are assessed by certificated IELTS examiners. All IELTS examiners hold relevant teaching qualifications and are recruited as examiners by the test centres and approved by British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands. Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe written performance at the nine IELTS bands. Public versions of these descriptors are available on the How IELTS is scored page. The descriptors apply to both the Academic and General Training Modules and are based on the following criteria.

Task 1 responses are assessed on:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Task 2 responses are assessed on:

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Task 1

Task achievement
This criterion assesses how appropriately, accurately and relevantly the response fulfils the requirements set out in the task, using the minimum of 150 words. General Training Writing Task 1 is a writing task with a largely predictable output in that each task sets out the context and purpose of the letter and the functions the test taker should cover in order to achieve this purpose.

Coherence and cohesion
This criterion is concerned with the overall clarity and fluency of the message: how the response organises and links information, ideas and language. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas through logical sequencing. Cohesion refers to the varied and appropriate use of cohesive devices (for example, logical connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) to assist in making the conceptual and referential relationships between and within sentences clear.

Lexical resource
This criterion refers to the range of vocabulary the test takers have used and the accuracy and appropriacy of that use in terms of the specific task.

Grammatical range and accuracy
This criterion refers to the range and accurate use of the test takers' grammatical resource as manifested in their test takers’s writing at the sentence level.

Task 2

Task response
In both Academic and General Training Modules Task 2 requires the test takers to formulate and develop a position in relation to a given prompt in the form of a question or statement. Ideas should be supported by evidence, and examples may be drawn from the test takers’ own experience. Responses must be at least 250 words in length. Scripts under the required minimum word limit will be penalised.

The other three assessment criteria (Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy) are the same for Task 1 and Task 2.

IELTS Speaking description

Paper element Description
Paper format The Speaking test consists of an oral interview between the test takers' and an examiner. All Speaking tests are recorded.
Timing 11–14 minutes
Task types There are three parts to the test and each part fulfils a specific function in terms of interaction pattern, task input and test takers output.

IELTS Speaking in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Part 1 – Introduction and interview

Task type and format In this part, the examiner introduces him/herself and checks the test takers' identity. Then the examiner asks the test takers general questions on some familiar topics such as home, family, work, studies, interests. To ensure consistency, questions are taken from a scripted examiner frame.
Part 1 lasts for 4–5 minutes.
Task focus This part of the test focuses on the test takers' ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences or situations by answering a range of questions.
No. of questions Variable

Part 2 – Long turn

Task type and format Part 2 is the individual long turn. The examiner gives the test takers a task card which asks the test takers to talk about a particular topic, includes points to cover in their talk and instructs the test takers to explain one aspect of the topic. Test takers are given 1 minute to prepare their talk, and are given a pencil and paper to make notes.
Using the points on the task card effectively, and making notes during the preparation time, will help the test takers think of appropriate things to say, structure their talk, and keep talking for 2 minutes.
The examiner asks the test takers to talk for 1 to 2 minutes, stops the test takers after 2 minutes, and asks one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 2 lasts 3–4 minutes, including the preparation time.
Task focus This part of the test focuses on the test takers' ability to speak at length on a given topic (without further prompts from the examiner), using appropriate language and organising their ideas coherently. It is likely that the test takers will need to draw on their own experience to complete the long turn.
No. of questions Variable

Part 3 – Discussion

Task type and format In Part 3, the examiner and the test takers discuss issues related to the topic in Part 2 in a more general and abstract way and – where appropriate – in greater depth.
Part 3 lasts 4–5 minutes.
Task focus This part of the test focuses on the test takers' ability to express and justify opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate about issues.
No. of questions Variable

IELTS Speaking - How it's marked

Marking and assessment
Speaking performances are assessed by certificated IELTS examiners. All IELTS examiners hold relevant teaching qualifications and are recruited as examiners by the test centres and approved by British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands. Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe spoken performance at the nine IELTS bands. Public versions of these descriptors are available on the How IELTS is scored page.

Fluency and coherence
This criterion refers to the ability to talk with normal levels of continuity, rate and effort and to link ideas and language together to form coherent, connected speech. The key indicators of fluency are speech rate and speech continuity. The key indicators of coherence are logical sequencing of sentences, clear marking of stages in a discussion, narration or argument, and the use of cohesive devices (e.g. connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) within and between sentences.

Lexical resource
This criterion refers to the range of vocabulary the test takers can use and the precision with which meanings and attitudes can be expressed. The key indicators are the variety of words used, the adequacy and appropriacy of the words used and the ability to circumlocute (get round a vocabulary gap by using other words) with or without noticeable hesitation.

Grammatical range and accuracy
This criterion refers to the range and the accurate and appropriate use of the test takers' grammatical resource. The key indicators of grammatical range are the length and complexity of the spoken sentences, the appropriate use of subordinate clauses, and the range of sentence structures, especially to move elements around for information focus. The key indicators of grammatical accuracy are the number of grammatical errors in a given amount of speech and the communicative effect of error.

Pronunciation
This criterion refers to the ability to produce comprehensible speech to fulfil the Speaking test requirements. The key indicators will be the amount of strain caused to the listener, the amount of the speech which is unintelligible and the noticeability of L1 influence.

Listening

Academic Reading

General Training Reading

Academic Writing

General Training Writing

Speaking