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IELTS syllabus

The IELTS assesses a person’s English skills in four different areas - Writing, Reading, Speaking, and Listening. The syllabus is different for IELTS Academic and General Training tests. However, the Speaking and Listening sections remain the same for both tests.

Overview of IELTS Structure

The following table presents an overview of the IELTS syllabus. The Writing and Reading sections differ for IELTS Academic and General Training tests, whereas the Listening and Speaking sections remain the same for both tests

IELTS Test component Duration Questions
Writing 60 minutes Two essays
Reading 60 minutes Three sections , 40 questions
Listening 30 minutes Four sections, 40 questions
Speaking 11 - 14 minutes A conversation with three parts

Here is the detailed syllabus and exam pattern of the IELTS:

IELTS exam pattern

According to the latest IELTS exam pattern 2023, the Listening, Reading, and Writing tests are conducted in a single day, and the speaking module can be taken on the same day or within seven days prior to or after the test, depending on your choice.

Exam name Duration Conducting body Scope pattern
IELTS Academic 2 hours 45 minutes IDP 0-9bands
IELTS General training 2 hours 45 minutes IDP 0-9bands

IELTS Academic

1. Writing section

Duration: 60 minutes

The IELTS Academic Writing section consists of two tasks - first, the test taker has to interpret the data, diagrams, etc., given and explain the information. Secondly, the test taker has to write a formal essay as a response to a problem, point of view, or argument

Structure for task 1:: You need to describe, summarise, or explain visual information, such as a graph, table, chart, or diagram that is presented to you. It can also be a flowchart, an event, etc., where you need to write an essay as your response.

Eg: You should spend at least 20 minutes on this task.

The chart below shows the number of men and women in further education in the UK in three periods and whether they were studying full-time or part-time. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. (Minimum 150 words)

Syllabus for task 2:You need to write an essay as your response to a point of view, argument, or problem in a formal and academic style. You must support your arguments with examples, data, etc

Eg You should spend at least 20 minutes on this task

The graph below shows radio and television audiences throughout the day in 1992. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. (Minimum 150 words)

2. Reading section

Duration: 60 minutes

In the Reading section, there will be three lengthy paragraphs of different styles - descriptive, factual, discursive, and analytical. The texts will be taken from authentic academic journals, magazines, or newspapers.

Syllabus:The IELTS Academic syllabus is taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers, and they are authentic. These texts will be appropriate for students and professionals

Eg: This is an extract from an Academic Reading passage on the development of rockets. The text preceding this extract explored the slow development of the rocket and explained the principle of propulsion.

Questions 7 – 10 (Based on the paragraph)

Look at the following items (Questions 7-10) and the list of groups below.

Match each item with the group which first invented or used them.

Write the correct letter A-E in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

3. Speaking section

Duration: 11 - 14 minutes

The speaking section assesses the speaking skills of test takers in an English-speaking society. The first part of the test will be questions about the test takers, their families, their backgrounds, interests, etc. In the next part, the test taker will speak on a particular topic and is bound to answer the questions that follow.

Syllabus:The syllabus for the IELTS speaking section can be divided into three parts.

Part 1:You will face questions on general and familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies, and your interests, among others. Part 1 is typically 4 -5 minutes long.

Eg:: Part 1 – Introduction and interview: Examiner Frame

[This part of the test begins with the examiner introducing himself or herself and checking the candidate’s identification. It then continues as an interview.]

Let’s talk about your hometown or village.

  1. What kind of place is it?
  2. What’s the most interesting part of your town/village?
  3. What kind of jobs do the people in your town/village do?
  4. Would you say it’s a good place to live? (Why?)
  5. Let’s move on to talk about accommodation

  6. Tell me about the kind of accommodation you live in?
  7. How long have you lived there?
  8. What do you like about living there?
  9. What sort of accommodation would you most like to live in?

Part 2:You will choose a random topic and have to talk about it for 2 minutes. There will be 1 minute to prepare, and, after the speech, the examiner will ask some questions regarding what you have said. This session lasts for 3 - 5 minutes

Eg:Part 2 – Individual Long Turn: Candidate Task Card

Describe something you own which is very important to you

You should say:

where you got it from

how long you have had it

what you use it for

Part 3: The third session is a continuation of part 2. Here, you can discuss abstract ideas and concepts. The session lasts for 4 - 5 minutes.

Eg:Part 3 – Two-way Discussion: Examiner Frame

  1. What kind of things give status to people in your country?
  2. Have things changed since your parents’ time?
  3. Finally, let’s talk about the role of advertising.

  4. Do you think advertising influences what people buy?
4. Listening section

Duration: 30 minutes

The test taker will be presented with four recorded speeches by native speakers, including monologues and conversations. After the records are played, a set of questions (around 40) will be asked to assess the test taker’s interpretation of the records. The records are played only once, meaning that the test taker must pay attention to the clip while it is played.

Syllabus The listening section will be having multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labeling, form/note/table/flowchart/summary completion, and sentence completion tasks. You need to listen carefully and take notes.

  • Section 1:It will be a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context, such as a conversation in an accommodation agency
  • Section 2:Section 2 will be a monologue set in an everyday social context, like a speech about local facilities.
  • Section 3: The third section will be a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, such as a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Section 4:The last section will be a monologue on an academic subject, like a university lecture

Eg: Question 1-8

Compelete the form below

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer.

Part 1

Question 9 and 10

Choose the correct letter,A B or C.

9 Type of insurance chosen

A Economy

B Standard

C Premium

10 Customer wants goods delivered to

A port

B home

C depot

PART 2

Questions 11 – 16

Answer the questions below

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer

What TWO factors can make social contact in a foreign country difficult?
  • 11 ...............................
  • 12 ...............................

Which types of community group does the speaker give examples of?

  • 13 ..................................
  • 14 ..................................

In which TWO places can information about community activities be found?

  • 15 ..................................
  • 16 ..................................

IELTS General Training

1. Writing section

Duration: 60 minutes

The Writing section in IELTS General Training analyzes the test taker’s ability to communicate in everyday situations effectively. The first task will be to write a letter to explain a situation in a personal, semi-formal, or formal style. The second task will be to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem.

In general, writing in IELTS General Training can be a bit personal and less academic than in IELTS Academic.

Syllabus for task 1: You need to write a letter requesting information or explaining a given situation, which can be personal, semi-formal, or formal in tone.

Eg:You should spend 20 minutes on this task

You live in a room in college which you share with another student. However, there are many problems with this arrangement and you find it very difficult to work.

Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. In the letter

  • describe the situation
  • explain your problems and why it is difficult to work
  • say what kind of accommodation you would prefer (Minimum 150 words)

Syllabus for task 2:: You need to write an essay as a response to a point of view, argument, or problem, which can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay. You must support your arguments with relevant examples.

EgYou should spend at least 40 minutes on this task

Write about the following topic:

In Britain, when someone gets old they often go to live in a home with other old people where there are nurses to look after them. Sometimes the government has to pay for this care

Who do you think should pay for this care, the government or the family?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or Experience. (Minimum 250 words)

2. Reading section

Duration: 60 minutes

SyllabusYou will be given extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines that one can encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

Eg : Topic: Robots at work
Complete the flow-chart below
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

3. Speaking section

The speaking section for IELTS General Training is the same as that of IELTS Academic.

4. Listening section

The listening section for IELTS General Training is the same as that of IELTS Academic

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FAQs icon

Frequently Asked Questions

How to crack the IELTS test in a single attempt?

You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly. Make a systematic study plan and do more mock tests to crack the IELTS test in a single attempt.

What is the difference between the syllabus of IELTS and other tests like TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo?

Basically, all English language proficiency exams test your skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening English. The major difference between the syllabus of IELTS and other entrance tests such as TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo is the tasks asked in each section. Also, the time allotted for each section vary.

Where can I find the preparatory material for the IELTS?

You can find numerous sites for IELTS preparatory material. However, we suggest you refer to the IELTS websiteIELTS website for IELTS sample questions and other helpful resources.

What is the recent update in the IELTS syllabus?

There is no recent update in the IELTS syllabus, and it remains unchanged as in the past for test takers.

Can I cover the IELTS syllabus within 3 months?

The time required to cover the IELTS syllabus is up to your abilities and learning capacities. For an average learner with standard English skills, 3 months can be enough to cover the IELTS syllabus. However, it depends on your English skills and self-confidence to determine the preparation time.