IELTS Syllabus 2021

IELTS Syllabus

Considered as an entry ticket to study abroad, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an English language proficiency exam for candidates who do not have English as their first language but are willing to attain overseas education. The test consists of 4 sections namely Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. While the listening and the speaking sections remain the same for all, the reading and writing sections are different for the General Training and Academic papers. In this blog, we will provide you with a detailed IELTS syllabus to make your preparation easy. 

What is IELTS?

IELTS Syllabus & Exam Pattern 2021

There are two types of IELTS exams, i.e. IELTS Academic and IELTS General. The syllabus for these remains the same and only differs slightly. Before elaborating the IELTS syllabus, let’s take a look at the exam pattern as well as the maximum duration allotted to each section:

Section Number of Questions Duration Content Marks
Listening 4 Recordings
40 Questions
30 Minutes+10 minutes transfer time Four recorded monologues
and conversations
1 mark per question
Reading 40 60 minutes 3 Passages (can be descriptive,
analytical, factual or discursive)
1 mark per question
Writing 2 60 minutes Writing task (minimum 150 words)

Essay (minimum 250 words)

Each task is assessed independently. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.
Speaking 3 11-14 minutes 3 parts;

Part 1: Q&A
Part 2: Speaking in detail on a familiar topic
Part 3: Structure Discussion

IELTS Reading Section

This section comprises three general texts on the topics relevant for the candidates who want to study undergraduate and postgraduate courses, work, or migrate to counties abroad.

  • The reading modules contain three sections with 40 questions which are majorly MCQs.
  • Identifying data for short answer questions, sentence or summary completion,  identifying writer’s attitudes/views and matching list or phrases are some of the areas where the skills of candidates are examined.
  • Students will be provided 30 minutes and 10 minutes of transfer time to solve the section. Tabulated below are the major differences between the IELTS syllabus of the 2 types of Reading sections: 
IELTS Reading: Academic vs General
IELTS Syllabus-Academic IELTS Syllabus- General Training 
Three long paragraphs are given which could be factual, descriptive or analytical.

The probable source of the paragraphs are
newspapers, books, journals, research works,
etc. and aim to examine the English skills of
working professionals or students.

Three paragraphs are similar in
structure to the academic section
and can be extracted from the company
guidelines, advertisements, brochures, etc.     
How to Get a High Band Score in IELTS Reading?

IELTS Writing Section

In this section, the candidates will be evaluated on their skills to fluently write a general report or a short essay.

  • There are only two questions in the portion of the IELTS exam. In the first question, the candidates will be provided with a diagram, data, or a table and then they have to represent the information in their own words. The word limit of this question is 150 words.
  • In the second question, candidates are provided with an argument, or point of view problems. The objective is to assess the candidate on the opinion, justifications, ideas, and evidence they provide for the answer. In total, the candidates will be provided 60 minutes to solve this section.
IELTS Writing: Academic vs General
IELTS Syllabus-Academic IELTS Syllabus- General Training 
Number of Questions: 2

Candidate has to recapitulate and
define the provided diagram or data within
150 words essay based on the definition of 1st answer inclusive of the examples

Number of Questions: 2

Candidates have to write a letter as per the
given situation. It can be personal, formal,
semi-formal depending upon the questions.
The applicant will also be required to write an essay to support the letter, citing the relevant instances (if any)   

IELTS Listening Section

This section of the IELTS exam is divided into four parts where the candidates will be provided with audio clips. While the first would be about social needs, the other two would be related to situations regarding education. The audio clips could either be a dialogue or a monologue that will run for a duration of around three minutes and will be played once only. Based on these clips, short-answers, note completion, MCQ and many other types of questions will be asked. The IELTS syllabus of this section consists of-

  • Audio 1- Dialogue based on social contexts
  • Audio 2- Monologue about the everyday social issues
  • Audio 3- Conversation between 4 people regarding education   
  • Audio 4- Monologue on an academic subject
Top 11 IELTS Listening Tips to Get 8+ Band Score

IELTS Speaking Section

Conducted as an interview, this section examines the general communication skills of the candidates. It would ultimately lead to complete analysis of whether the candidate can speak proficiently in English or not. A three-tier process, this section of the IELTS syllabus will start with a short introduction, individual long-run, and a final in-depth discussion. Listed below are the components assessed in this section: 

Part 1 (Introduction Followed by an interview)

In this task, the candidates have to introduce themselves talking about their family, hobbies, interests, educational background, etc in about 4-5 minutes.

Part 2 (Long Turn)

In this part of IELTS speaking, the candidates will be provided with a flashcard with a topic written on it. They can take a few minutes to think, familiarize themselves with the topic given, and then speak on it for 2-3 minutes. Afterwards, the interviewer might also some questions to evaluate the candidate’s understanding of the topic.

Part 3 (Discussion)

There would be a detailed discussion on the topic given in Part 2 and the candidate’s speech as well as comprehension. You will get the chance to delve deeper into the topic and cover it in an elaborated manner. This task generally encompasses the duration of 5-6 minutes.

You can practice some sample test questions from the official website here

IELTS Syllabus PDF

To assist you with the entire syllabus, we have attached the PDF.

IELTS Syllabus in Detail

Now that you are familiar with the standard IELTS syllabus, let us now check out some details of it as per particular sections-


  • Recording 1 –  A conversation (Two people set in an everyday social context)
  • Recording 2 – A monologue (An everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local government)
  • Recording 3 – A conversation (Set between up to four people in an educational or training context)
  • Recording 4 – A monologue (On an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture)


  • Task 1 – General questions about yourself on familiar topics, such as family, work, studies, home, and interests. Duration of his part is between 4-5 minutes
  • Part 2  – You will pick a card with a topic and you will talk about it. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. This will be followed by 2-3 questions by the examiner on the same topic.
  • Part 3 – More questions will be asked to you on the same topic as in task 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. The duration of this task is the same as the 1st one.

Reading (Academic and General Training)

  • Task Type 1 – Multiple Choice: The questions will involve completing a sentence by choosing the right option.
  • Task Type 2 – Identifying Information: You will be required to answer the question in ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘not given’. 
  • Task Type 3 – Identifying Writer’s Views/Claims: You will have to answer the questions in ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘not given’. 
  • Task Type 4 – Matching Information: You will be asked to find specific details in the form of an example, reason, description, comparison, summary and explanation. 

Writing (Academic)

  • Task 1: You will be required to describe facts or figures presented in one or more graphs, charts or tables on a related topic; or they may be given a diagram of a machine, a device or a process and asked to explain how it works. 
  • Task 2: You will be given a topic to write about an academic or semi-formal/neutral style.

Writing (General Training)

  • 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.


Are there any pass marks for IELTS?

There are no pass marks, however, scores of all the 4 sections are calculated on 9 band range (0-9).

What is the syllabus of IELTS?

IELTS syllabus contains a total of four sections, i.e. Reading, Speaking, Writing and Listening. For the two types of IELTS tests, i.e. Academic and General, the sections of Reading and Writing are different while the Listening and Speaking sections remain the same for these two versions.

How can I prepare for the IELTS exam?

While preparing for the IELTS, you need to keep the following pointers in mind:

1. Familiarize yourself with the exam pattern of the IELTS test you are planning to take. Along with this, understand the type of questions as well as tasks you might get under each section of the IELTS syllabus.

2. While working on each section of the IELTS exam, make sure that you are practicing through sample tests and mock tests to analyse what you have learned.

3. The official website has various IELTS practice materials for aspirants to practice in order to comprehend the format as well as the syllabus of IELTS.

4. You can also opt for online preparation course and prepare for IELTS with the help of exam experts.

5. Once you find yourself geared up for IELTS, carry out the registration process at the earliest by visiting the official website.

What is the eligibility for IELTS exam?

The basic IELTS eligibility requirements are:

1. The candidate must have a non-expired and valid passport.
2. The minimum age limit for IELTS is 16 years.
3. An individual is eligible for IELTS if you are planning to migrate or study in Canada, Australia, USA or New Zealand.

How many times can I take IELTS?

There is no certain limit to taking IELTS. But British Council has specified 48 days in a year for IELTS General while 24 dates for IELTS academic exam. The specific date will usually differ depending upon your nearest test centre.

We hope that with this blog, you are now all clear about the IELTS syllabus. If you are preparing for the IELTS exam but are not sure about how to get started with it then the experts at Leverage Edu will lend you a helping hand. You can enrol for IELTS coaching in Delhi, Rohini, Bangalore, and Noida where the highly experienced mentors will help you prepare for the exam. Apart from the above-mentioned locations, you can also enrol in our classes held at the West Delhi and Gurgaon centres. 

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