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IELTS General Training test

Test takers listen to four recorded texts and answer the accompanying questions.

A variety of question types are used in order to test a wide range of listening skills. These include the ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, the ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the 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. Test takers write their answers on the question paper as they listen to the recording. Each recording is heard only once.

  • Section 1: A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context, e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency.
  • Section 2: A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
  • Section 3: A conversation set in an educational or training context between two main speakers, e.g. two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor. 
  • Section 4: A monologue set in an educational or training context.

The General Training Reading test contains five or six texts.

Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Section 1 – everyday life

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). Topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country.

Section 2 – work-related issues

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training).

Section 3 – general interest

Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest. A variety of question types are 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, understanding inferences and implied meaning, and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

Writing tasks in the General Training test consist of two tasks that are based on topics of general interest.

In Task 1, test takers are presented with a situation and are asked to write a letter (of at least 150 words) requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

In Task 2, test takers are asked to write an essay (of at least 250 words) 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.

The Speaking component assesses test takers’ use of spoken English, and is delivered in such a way that it does not allow people to rehearse set responses beforehand. Every test is recorded.

  • Part 1: Test takers answer general questions about themselves and a range of familiar topics, such as their home, family, work, studies and interests (4-5 minutes).
  • Part 2: Test takers are given a card which asks them to talk about a particular topic. They will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner may then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test (3-4 minutes).
  • Part 3: Test takers are asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions give the test taker the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues (4-5 minutes).
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