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Syllabus for IELTS

The IELTS Syllabus is prescribed by its administrators namely British Council, IDP and Cambridge ESOL Examinations for both the formats, i.e. IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The IELTS examination consists of listening, reading, writing and speaking sections. According to the IELTS Syllabus, the listening and speaking sections would be the same for all the test-takers, however, for the Academic and General Training test modules you might find some differences in the reading and writing modules.

Exam Pattern of IELTS

In order to help you prepare well for the IELTS examination, it is important for you to know the IELTS Exam Pattern well in advance.

Exam NameTotal DurationSectionalDurationConducting BodiesScoring Pattern
IELTS2h 45min60 min40 min60 min11-14 min
British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL).
Band scale (0-9)

The listening, reading and writing tests are conducted on the same day, while you might have to take the speaking module on the same day itself or you might need to take it within seven days prior to the listening, reading and writing test.  You must ensure that you are able to take the test on your given test date. You should also consider that each college/ university has its own deadline to receive the IELTS scores, therefore you must calculate the time period before choosing your test date.

IELTS Exam Syllabus

Let us take a look at the IELTS Syllabus section-wise. In order to understand each component better, below is a detailed explanation.

IELTS Test Component

1. Listening (Same for Academic and General Training)

It includes four sections, 40 items

One is a conversation between two individuals

Second is a monologue/speech

The third section is a conversation among a maximum of four people set in an academic setting

The final one is a monologue on an academic subject

Please note that each section is heard only once.

2. Reading (Different for Academic and General Training)

It includes three sections, 40 items

You need to read the text passages and answer questions in multiple-choice, sentence completion, summary writing, matching information, short-answers

Each passage consists of 13-14 questions

The reading module has in total of 40 questions

Reading passages and questions are different in Academic and General Training IELTS

a) Reading-IELTS Academic

The syllabus includes three long texts

Subject matter 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 are selected for a non-specialist audience

Appropriate for candidates entering university courses or seeking professional registration abroad.

b) Reading- IELTS General Training

Requires candidates to read extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines.

These are materials one is likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

3. Writing (Different for Academic and General Training)

It includes two tasks

Topics are of general interest and suitable for candidates planning undergraduate and postgraduate studies abroad or seeking professional registration.

In Task 1 academic, you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. For Task 1 general, you will be told to write a formal or informal letter with a particular prompt and points to write about;.

In Task 2 (both general and academic), you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The task 2 essays are largely similar for the general and academic modules, but the topics for the general module are generally on simpler and easier to write concepts.

4. Speaking (Same for Academic and General Training)

Three-part one-on-one conversation

The test will be recorded for evaluation purposes and will consist of three parts that simulate a face-to-face oral interview with an examiner.

The Speaking component assesses the candidates’ use of spoken English; takes between 11 to 14 minutes to complete.

The entire speaking test is recorded by the examiner.

In Part I, you will be asked questions about oneself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests.

Part I is for about four and five minutes.

In Part II, you will be given a card asking you to talk about a particular topic. You will be given one minute to prepare before speaking.

In Part III, the questions you will be asked will be connected to the Part II topics.

As per the IELTS guidelines, there are no eligibility criteria for IELTS. It tests you on the basis of four skill sets which we have discussed above. You must note that the selection process through IELTS differs from institution to institution. However, it is suggested that you keep yourself updated of the selection procedure of the college/university you are applying to.

You should check out this article, if you want to take the IELTS exam.


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