General IELTS Overview

The IELTS academic and general training tests in English are international exams used to evaluate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills for non-native English speakers, also known as learners of English as a foreign language. The IELTS, which lasts roughly three hours, is very popular with prospective university students as well as applicants for immigration visas. The IELTS English exam is always in the pencil and paper format, and answers are filled in by hand. Every section of the exam has a variety of exercises and question types. Here are the 4 sections you will encounter on the IELTS English language exam:

IELTS Listening Section (25% of your grade)
The IELTS listening section, which is the same for both the academic and general training tests, features four sections of 10 questions each for a total of 40 questions. The practical part of the test is 30 minutes, and students are given 10 minutes at the end to fill out their answer sheets. Each set of questions is based on a recorded listening passage, but beware as this recording will be played only once. Each listening passage is unique in terms of the topic and number of speakers. The first two passages deal with English language topics of general interest, with one conversation and one monologue. The second pair of passages generally deal with more academic subjects, and include a conversation (such as a student discussion) and a monologue (such as a lecture). Test-takers must prepare themselves for several types of questions, such as chart completion, multiple choice, short-answer, sentence completion, filling out a descriptive diagram, classification, and matching.

IELTS Speaking Section (25% of your grade)
The IELTS speaking section is also the exact same thing when it comes to academic and general training. During this part of the IELTS, test-takers will undergo a live interview. Don’t be alarmed, as it will be recorded for later assessment! The speaking paper is split into three parts and goes on for a total of 11-14 minutes, depending on how talkative the candidate is. In part 1 (4-5 minutes), students answer questions regarding personal topics, such as current events, hobbies, or likes/dislikes. During part 2 (3-4 minutes), students are given a card with information on it and are asked to go into detail about the particular topic. Here, the conversation stops and the candidate has one minute to prepare their discussion, and then they are expected to speak for 1 to 2 minutes about it. In part 3 (4-5 minutes), the candidate responds to more in-depth questions that deal with the topics discussed in part 2.

IELTS Reading Section (25% of your grade)
The IELTS academic and general training tests have separate reading papers. The primary difference between the two is the topic of the reading passages. The academic reading paper has three academic texts, while the general training reading section includes 5-6 texts, which are usually shorter and cater to a wider audience. The timing (one hour), number of sections (three), and total questions (40) are the same on both versions, but there are slight differences in structure. Each section of the academic test has roughly 13 questions, but the sections in the general training test have the same number of questions throughout (14 for part 1 and 13 each for parts 2 and 3). The academic reading test has 11 different types of exercises, while the general training test has 12. Unlike the listening exam, candidates do not have extra time to transfer their answers to the answer sheets on this section of the IELTS.

IELTS Writing Section (25% of your grade)
The IELTS writing paper is also unique to one version of the test or the other, although they have a great deal in common. On both versions, students are given one hour to complete two separately timed writing tasks. The first writing task (20 minutes) is worth half as much as the second (40 minutes), and all essays are evaluated according to similar assessment criteria. On both exams, the longer exercise is a “discursive essay” in which students must be able to argue a certain position or present a solution to a given problem. The general training short essay is a letter written in reaction to a given situation, while the academic short essay is a written description of a chart or graph. The recommended length for short essays is 150 words, and 250 words is the suggested length for long essays.

IELTS Section Grading and Scoring
Answers to the questions on the listening and reading passages are objectively either correct or incorrect, and grading is therefore a straightforward matter. All questions have the same value and are equal factors in the section scores. The speaking and writing papers involve the subjective evaluations of IELTS graders, who equally weigh several areas of assessment. Students receive band scores of 0 to 9 for each paper, and half-point scores are possible. All sections contribute equally to the total band score, which is the mean of all four section scores, rounded up or down to the closest half-point.