Types of IELTS Exam

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Types of IELTS exam

The International English Language Test System or IELTS is one of the most popular English proficiency tests which assess the candidate’s language proficiency on the basis of receptive and productive skills. While the receptive skills include listening and reading, the productive skills include writing and speaking. Managed by the jointly IDP, British Council, Cambridge, IELTS is taken by those who have English as their second language, but are aspiring to pursue higher education abroad or migrate there permanently. Depending on the reason, there are two types of IELTS exams; General and Academic. This blog will provide a comprehensive understanding of the types of IELTS. 

Main Highlights 

SectionsNumber of QuestionsTime
Listening40 questionsApproximately 30 Minutes (plus 10 minutes transfer time)
Reading40 questions60 Minutes
Writing2 tasks60 Minutes
Speaking3 parts11–14 Minutes

What are the Types of IELTS Exams?

There are basically two types of IELTS exams; Academic and General Training. Both the tests consist of 4 sections, Reading Writing, Listening and Speaking. However, it is important to know that while the pattern of Listening and Speaking are the same for both the tests, the structure of Writing as well as the Reading section varies.

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IELTS Academic

This is one of the main types of IELTS exams. The main aim of the IELTS Academic test is to provide an entry for students who want to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate courses abroad or want to apply for a Tier-4 Visa. The IELTS Academic evaluates your skills and ability to study in an English language environment through essays, reports, audio clips, etc. 

Listening Section

Test ComponentsDetails 
Duration 30 Minutes 
Number of Questions40
Type of questions It includes multiple questions including;

multiple-choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion
Recording 1It will include a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
Recording 2You will hear monologues pertaining to speech about local facilities, social context etc. 
Recording 3You will get to hear a group conversation of 4 people. The conversation is set as per the educational context. 
Recording 4Here  you will get to hear monologues pertaining to university and other academic lectures. 

Speaking Section

Test FormatDetails 
Duration 11–14 minutes
PartsThree parts are there in this type of IELTS exam.
Part 1In this part, you will face questions related to family, studies, home as well as interests.
Part 2You have to frame your answer against a particular question. You have to frame your question around the topic as well. 
Part 3In part 3rd, a comprehensive discussion will be held where abstract issues and ideas will be discussed. 

Writing Section

Test FormatDetails
Duration1 Hour
No. of questions2
TasksTask 1 
Candidates will have to describe visual information represented through graphs, tables, charts, or diagrams in 150 words within 20 minutes.

Task 2
Candidates will have to respond to a point of view, an argument, or a problem in 250 words within 40 minutes.

Reading Section

Test Duration60 Minutes 
Total Questions40 
Format of QuestionsMultiple-choice, identifying/ matching information, matching headings/features/sentence endings, sentence, note, table,  flow-chart, completion, and short-answer questions.

Must Read: IELTS Preparation Tips

Types of IELTS Exam: General Training

This type of IELTS exam evaluates English proficiency of a candidate through various questions and discussions which are asked in relation to workplaces and social context. Let us, through the following tables understand the pattern of IELTS General Training. 

Listening Section

Test FormatDetails
Total Duration Half an Hour 
No of Questions40 
Type of QuestionsYou have to answer multiple-choice based questions. Apart from this, questions will also be asked in the form of matching, plan /map /diagram labelling, summary completion, sentence completion, etc.

Note: To understand the recording part, you can refer to the IELTS Academic Listening section, mentioned in the blog above. 

IELTS General Training Reading

Test Format Details
Total Duration 1 Hour
Type of QuestionsYou have to answer questions based on multiple-choice, identifying information, identifying writer’s views/claims, matching information, headings, features, and sentence endings.
Sentence, summary, note, table, flow-chart, diagram label completion, and short-answer questions are other types. 
No. of questions40

Writing Section

Test formatGeneral Training Writing
Duration 60 minutes
No. of Questions
Task 1Here, a candidate has to write a formal, informal, or a semi-formal letter in a given situation. 
Task 2This section will analyze your critical analysis and comprehension ability based on an argument, around which, you have to frame an essay. 

Speaking Section

When it comes to the Speaking section of different types of IELTS exam, the pattern remains the same. However, we have provided detailed information related to the IELTS General below. 

IELTS Indicator

IELTS Indicator is the safest and fastest way to demonstrate your English language skills from the comfort of your home. It is an online test-launched by the British Council last year during the havoc of COVID-19 to help students apply for educational institutes across the world. Here are some important aspects of the IELTS Indicator to keep in mind-

  • It is held once every week online 
  • IELTS Indicator can be administrated online 
  • It covers the four main skills like the IELTS General- Speaking, Writing, Listening, and Reading
  • It is a timed test that matches the structure of an in-person test. 
  • It is a live, online test with an allocated start time and duration 
  • Listening, Reading, and Writing parts of the test need to be completed in one sitting, while the Speaking test takes place a few days before or after the other sections.         

There are many universities in the UK, Canada, and the USA that accept IELTS indicator, however, it is not a substitute for in-person IELTS tests that is mandatory for migration. It is important to check with the university before applying for the test whether they accept the scores of the IELTS Indicator or not.


How long is IELTS valid for?

It is valid for a period of 2 years.

Which IELTS do I need to take?

If you want to pursue a below degree level course or want to emigrate to the UK and other English speaking countries, the IELTS General Test is quite perfect. On the contrary, if you want to pursue a bachelor’s or master level course or want to start a professional career then IELTS Academic is the type of IELTS exam you need to give.

How many test centres are there in India for IELTS?

There are over 77 IELTS test centres across in India offering both IELTS Academic and General Training tests. IELTS also has IELTS Indicator which allows candidates to take the exam from the comfort of their homes.

Hopefully, with the information provided related to types of IELTS exam, you are now clear which one you should go for! Want to boost your IELTS preparation? Then enroll yourself inLeverage Edu’s Live Online Classes where our experts through one-on-one sessions, well structured study materials, and a wide range of questions will help you ace the exam with flying colours! Hurry up, book your slot now!

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