About the Test
The IELTS is a paper-based test and has four sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. There are two versions of the IELTS test, the general and the academic. The academic version is the one required by universities.
The listening section has four sections, approximately 40 questions and takes about 30 minutes, plus ten minutes for answer transfer time. Each section increases in difficulty and may be a dialogue or a monologue. The answers for each question must be answered while listening. There are a variety of question types such as multiple choice, fill in the blanks, and sentence completion. The test takers write their answers on an answer sheet.
The reading section has three sections of about 800 words each, approximately 40 questions and takes 60 minutes. There is an increase in difficulty in each section. There are a variety of question types. For example, in addition to multiple choice questions, there are also fill-in-the-blanks and summary questions. Test takers write their answers on an answer sheet.
The writing section requires the test taker to complete two tasks. In the first, the test taker summarizes information presented; for example, a graph or a chart. In the second task, the test taker responds to an essay prompt. The writing section takes 60 minutes. The writing tasks are written by hand.
The speaking section has three sections. The test taker speaks to an examiner. The speaking section starts with the general introduction section. In the next section, the test taker responds to a cue card. In the last section, the examiner asks more demanding questions related to the cue card. The section takes about 15 minutes.
Timing & Scoring
IELTS is scored with band scores. 1 is the lowest and 9 is the highest. Each of the four sections receives a band score. Band scores are given in half bands or whole bands. The total band score is calculated by averaging the band scores of the four sections. Listening 1- 9, Reading 1-9, Writing 1-9, Speaking 1-9. The average of all four sections is used to find the total band score 1-9.
2 hours, 45 minutes
Before taking the test, you must first register and pay within three days. To learn how to register locally, contact your local test center, which can be found online: www.ielts.org/test_center_search/search_results.aspx. Print out the IELTS Application Form, which you can find online (www.ielts.org), or ask your test center for a copy. Complete and sign the form. You will need two passport-sized photographs that are less than six months old. Sign the back of each. You will also need a photocopy of your current passport, which must be valid. Once you have registered, you will receive confirmation of the date, time and exact location from your test center. However, your Speaking Test may be up to one week before or after that test date.
Rescheduling or Canceling
You may postpone or cancel an application for a test. Contact your local test center for specific details. In order to cancel a test, you must complete the Refund Form and email it to the IELTS team of the British Council, which can be reached online: www.ielts.britishcouncil.org. If you choose to cancel within five weeks of the test, you will still need to pay the full test fee unless you have a serious medical reason.
On Test day
Remember to bring the same passport or national identity card that you entered on the IELTS Application Form. Be sure to eat a hearty and protein-rich meal before the test. You will not be able to eat during the test. Make sure you feel calm, clear-headed, and confident. Arrive early, preferably 30 minutes early, to feel calm and comfortable. The test is taken with a pencil, so bring extras, in case you will need them. However, some test sites only accept pencils that they have provided. You may be asked to have a photograph taken at your test site. This photograph will be attached to your Test Report Form. You will need to put away your bags and personal items. Test sites generally lock up all personal items. No food is permitted, though your test site may allow you to bring a bottle of water.
During the test
No speaking to other test takers
No destruction of test center equipment
No eating or drinking
Using the telephone is not permitted.
Using electronic devices, such as calculators, watches or cameras, is not permitted.
You will only be allowed to bring pens, pencils and erasers into the examination room. But remember to record your answers in pencil.
After the test
Stay in your seat until officially allowed to exit the room. Then, you may access your personal bags and items.
After your test date, your Test Report Form will be posted in thirteen calendar days. You will be able to access the form from your test center. You will only receive one copy, although some centers provide SMS alerts or online results services.
Customer Support Centers for IELTS Test Takers
British Council Customer Services, UK:
58 Whitworth Street
Manchester M1 6BB