IELTS Exam Pattern – Detailed Guide

Apr 03,2023

IELTS Exam Pattern

International English language Testing System or IELTS is a popular name among aspirants wishing to study or migrate abroad. In fact, many of them must be planning to take the IELTS Exam in 2022 with the purpose of attaining their study abroad or immigration goals. It is difficult to achieve your desired score in the IELTS exam unless you properly comprehend the IELTS exam pattern. In this blog, we have covered and described the IELTS Exam Pattern to assist you in this regard. Hope you find it helpful.

Versions of the IELTS Test

The IELTS exam is available in two versions – IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic. The two IELTS exam versions serve different purposes and are taken by different groups of people with different goals.

Students from non-native English-speaking countries can Take IELTS Academic to apply for undergraduate and postgraduate courses at international universities. People who wish to immigrate to an English-speaking country, on the other hand, can go for IELTS General. IELTS General Training can also be taken by the candidates who want to move to an abroad country to complete work-related training.

Components of the IELTS Exam Pattern

The IELTS exam pattern is designed and implemented by two professional bodies – the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the British Council. The test checks a candidate’s English Language Proficiency level and includes four main sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

The IELTS exam’s listening, reading, and writing components are completed on the same day, while the speaking component is scheduled separately. The two-hour and 45-minute test can be performed in either paper-based or computer-based mode. The table below shows the duration, number, and Types of Various IELTS Exam Questions.

ComponentTimeNumber of QuestionsType of Questions
Listening         40 minutes40MCQ, matching, labelling plan/map/diagram, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion
Reading60 minutes      40MCQ, identifying information, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching information/headings/features/sentence endings, sentence/summary/note/table/flow-chart/diagram label completion, short-answer questions
Writing60 minutes2Describe graph/table/chart/diagram, essay-writing and letter-writing
Speaking11-14 minutes3Questions on general topics, speaking on a specific topic, questions on the specific topic
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IELTS Listening Test

The listening component takes about 30 minutes to complete and is the same for both the General and Academic versions of the IELTS exam. There are 4 parts in this section. A total of 40 questions must be answered by the test taker. The candidate is given four recordings to listen to and answer questions on. The candidates are allowed to note down the important points while listening. Every recording is only played once. The different listening items include

  • A conversation between two individuals in an everyday social context.
  • A monologue or a speech.
  • A conversation between two or among four people in an academic setting.
  • A monologue on an academic subject, in other words, a lecture.

IELTS Reading Test

The 60 minutes IELTS Reading Test is a collection of 40 questions. Several different question types are presented in front of the test-taker to test his reading abilities thoroughly. The pattern for IELTS Academic Reading and IELTS General reading is different.

IELTS Academic Reading

Candidates are given three large paragraphs that could be factual, descriptive, or analytical. Newspapers, books, journals, research papers, and other sources are generally used to create paragraphs.

IELTS General Reading

Candidates are given three paragraphs that are taken from company guidelines, advertisements, brochures, and other materials.

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IELTS Writing Test

The IELTS writing test requires test takers to complete two writing tasks in a span of 60 minutes. Different versions of the IELTS exam have different IELTS Writing Test Formats.

IELTS Academic Writing

The two tasks and topics covered in IELTS Academic Writing are appropriate for students seeking to pursue an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a foreign country. The first task involves presenting the test-taker with a table, graph, chart, or diagram and asking them to explain it. The second task requires the test-taker to compose an essay on a topic that can be an argument, a point of view, or a problem. Candidates must stick to the word restrictions of 150 words for the first task and 250 words for the second task while completing the tasks.

IELTS General Writing

The IELTS General writing test also has two tasks, however, the types of tasks may be different from IELTS Academic. The first task requires candidates to compose a letter or explanation in response to a scenario given. While drafting the letter, candidates can use a formal, semi-formal, or personalized writing style. Candidates have to compose an essay about an argument, point of view, or problem in the second task.

IELTS Speaking Test

The speaking component, as the name implies, evaluates the candidate’s English speaking abilities. The format of IELTS speaking is the same for both versions of the test. The 11 to 14-minute test is a face-to-face interview designed to assess the Spoken English Proficiency of the candidates. The test is divided into three sections.

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Part 1

The candidate is required to introduce himself. The details that can be enclosed in the explanation include his family background, hobbies, academic background, and so on. The task must be completed in 4 to 5 minutes.

Part 2

The candidate is handed a flashcard that has a topic written on it. The candidate must talk for two to three minutes on the same after thinking for a while and structuring his thoughts.

Part 3

Part 3 is devoted to a more in-depth discussion. The conversation topic is the same as in part 2. The discussion may be based on the candidate’s speech as well as their understanding of the topic. The task is 4 to 5 minutes long.


A huge number of colleges, organizations, and other bodies all across the world trust and accept IELTS. Each segment of the IELTS exam assesses an applicant’s competence on a variety of factors to ensure that the individual is well-suited to study or migrate abroad from a language standpoint. Understanding the IELTS Exam Pattern is imperative before attempting to achieve the desired score.

Feel free to Contact our IELTS Experts for further information and assistance on the IELTS Exam Pattern and preparation.

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Written By

Kirati Shah

Kirati Shah is a certified IELTS/TOEFL/PTE Trainer with 10 years of experience. She is on a mission to provide good quality lessons about IELTS and PTE through blogs and videos that can help students get their desired score and achieve their dream to migrate/study abroad.


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