What is IELTS?

IELTS is an English language test for study, migration or work. Over three million people take this test every year. IELTS is accepted by more than 11,000 employers, universities,
schools and immigration bodies around the world.

IELTS is one of the most recognised English language tests around the world. The IELTS Academic test is generally the most recommended if you want to study an undergraduate or postgraduate course at many universities in the UK, Ireland, Canada, the USA and Australia. 

It is also the only English language certificate accepted for professional bodies such as the College of Nursing, General Medical Council.

There are two types of IELTS: Academic and General Training. IELTS Academic can be taken in a test centre on paper or on computer. IELTS General Training can only be taken in a test centre on paper or on computer. 

For Academic and General Training you take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. We will advise you on the best test to take, depending on you objective.
The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

The Speaking test, however, may be scheduled up to a week before or after the other tests. If you booked IELTS Online, your Speaking test will usually take place before your other tests. The total test time is 2 hours  and 45 minutes.

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions. Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.

Recording 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture. 

Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.

Test format – Reading (60 minutes)
The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS Academic test – this includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

IELTS Academic Reading 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 question types are used,   chosen   from   the following; multiple choice, identifying information, identifying the 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   and short-answer questions.

Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for, test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. 

There are two tasks: 

Task 1 – you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and
explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded. 

Part 1 – the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

Part 2 – you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic. Part 3 – you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose. 

IELTS General Training test – this includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter
on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

IELTS General Training Reading 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

Topics are of general interest. There are two tasks:

Task 1 – you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal
in style.

Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.