Section-wise IELTS Exam Pattern

The IELTS Academic modules include listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The entire exam is timed for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Each section of the exam must be completed within the given time frame. We will cover section-wise IELTS exam pattern for 2023 in this section.

IELTS Academic Listening Pattern

The IELTS listening section contains four audio recordings of conversations between individuals with varied English accents. Each audio recording includes a set of 10 questions. The accents could be in American, Australian, Canadian, or British English. The main motive behind the listening test is to determine how well you understand different English accents.

Number of Questions 40
Total Marks 40 Marks
Duration 30 min.

Paper-Based Test: 10 minutes extra for transferring the answers

Computer Delivered Test: 2 minutes extra

Negative Marking No
Sections 4 (Recording 1, Recording 2, Recording 3, Recording 4)

There are four different types of audio recordings that you will listen to only once in your listening test:

Recordings Description Audio Type
Recording 1 A casual chat between two persons in a social setting. For example, two individuals discussing popular spots to visit. Casual
Recording 2 A speech delivered in a broad social situation. For instance, an introduction speech about different local amenities. Social
Recording 3 A group discussion between four individuals in an educational setting. For example, a university lecturer may discuss an assignment with a group of students. Educational
Recording 4 An oration on an academic subject. For instance, consider a lesson recitation delivered by a university professor. Academic

Marking Scheme

Test takers get one mark for each correct answer. The total marks obtained out of 40 are then converted to the equivalent band scores for the listening section.

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IELTS Academic Reading Pattern

There are 40 questions total in the IELTS Academic Reading exam, and you have 60 minutes to answer each of them. The reading section tests three core reading skills:

  • Scanning: Looking for specific information.
  • Skimming: Understanding the broad meaning of the passage.
  • Reading for Depth: Encapsulating the essence of the writer’s purpose, claims, arguments, and viewpoints.
Number of Questions 40
Total Marks 40 Marks
Duration 60 minutes
Negative Marking No
Sections 3 long passages

The IELTS Academic Reading section includes three long texts extracted from books, journals, magazines, research papers, etc. You can expect different types of passages, like Descriptive, Factual, Discursive, and Analytical. Each passage text comes with a series of 13-14 questions.

Marking Scheme

Test takers get one mark for each correct answer. The total marks obtained out of 40 are then converted to the equivalent band scores for the reading section.

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IELTS Academic Writing Pattern

The IELTS Academic Writing exam contains two tasks to be completed within 60 minutes.

Number of Questions 2
Total Marks Task 2 carries 66.67% of the total marks of the writing section
Duration 60 minutes (Task 1: 20 minutes + Task 2: 40 minutes)
Negative Marking No
Sections 2 (Task 1: Report Writing, Task 2: Essay Writing)
Word Count Task 1: 150 words or more

Task 2: 250 words or more

The writing section contains two types of tasks:

Task 1 Format

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 uses graphic components, including maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, procedures, and tables to portray information. Participants in the test must submit a report on the graphical depiction in 150 words or more. Test takers have 20 minutes to finish Academic Writing Task 1 of the exam.

Suggested Read: IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

Task 2 Format

You must create an essay on the given topic for Task 2 of the IELTS writing test. A 250-word IELTS essay must be written in 40 minutes.

Two times as many points are awarded for writing Task 2 as Task 1. Therefore, to successfully execute this task, the highest level of precision and efficiency is needed. Academic or broad subjects or arguments are provided to test-takers.

Marking Scheme

The writing exam is evaluated based on the following scoring criteria:

  • Task Achievement / Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Must Read: Everything You Need to Know About IELTS Academic Writing Task 2

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IELTS Academic Speaking Pattern

Speaking test is conducted with a certified IELTS examiner after or before the scheduled IELTS test. It is more like an interview with a native English speaker. You will be assigned a topic and speak at length on it. Based on the conversation, the examiner will ask you a couple of questions.

Number of Questions Not Fixed- Depends upon the conversation
Total Marks 0-9 band
Duration 11-14 minutes
Negative Marking No
Sections 3 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

The IELTS exam pattern for academic speaking tests includes three parts, as explained in the table below:

Exam Sections Format Time Duration
Part 1: Introduction Basic introduction about your:
  • Family,
  • Job,
  • Education,
  • Personal interests,
  • Hobbies.
4-5 minutes
Part 2: Task Card
  • Select the task card that outlines your speech topic.
  • Prepare notes for the speech for 1-2 minutes.
  • Speak on the selected topic for 1-2 minutes.
3-4 minutes
Part 3: In-Depth Discussion
  • Detailed interactive session with the examiner.
  • Provide more extensive responses and showcase your understanding of the topic.
4-5 minutes

Marking Scheme

There are four criteria for evaluating the speaking section:

  • Fluency and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

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How is the IELTS Exam Conducted in India?

The IELTS exam is administered in collaboration with the British Council, Cambridge Assessment English, and IDP Education. In India, the IELTS test is conducted online in the comfort of your home or at designated test centres.

Modes of IELTS Academic Exam

There are two main modes of assessment for the IELTS Academic exam, as mentioned below:

Paper-Based IELTS (Offline Mode)

The paper-based IELTS exam is administered in the classic pen-and-paper format. In this exam format, you will be given question-and-answer papers for the listening, reading, and writing parts.

You must complete each exam section within the stipulated time. You will get an extra 10 minutes to transfer your listening section responses onto the answer sheet. The speaking test is usually conducted face-to-face with a certified IELTS examiner.

Computer-Based IELTS (Online Mode)

The Computer-based IELTS exam is conducted on computer systems at official IELTS test centers. Test takers type their answers on the computer screens allotted to them at the test center. You will get an extra 2 minutes to organise your answers for the listening test. The speaking examination is given in front of a trained IELTS examiner.

Which IELTS test is better? Paper-based or computer-based?

The choice between taking a paper-based or computurized IELTS exam will depend on your comfort level using computers or sticking to the conventional pen-paper format. Both exam modes have their pros and cons. You must consider the following parameters before selecting your IELTS test mode:

  • Test Format

    Computer-based IELTS: You must complete the exam's Listening, Reading, and Writing sections through a computer. The Speaking test is held before or after you have attempted all the remaining exam sections on the same day.

    Paper-based IELTS: You must give the test's Listening, Reading, and Writing sections using pen and paper format. The Speaking exam is conducted 7 days before or after your scheduled test.

  • Declaration of Results

    Computer-based IELTS: You can get your results as quickly as 3 to 5 days from the exam date.

    Paper-based IELTS: Results are declared after 13 days from your test date.

  • Availability of Exam Dates:

    Computer-based IELTS: You can take your exam on any day of the week, with an availability of 3 time slots each day. The exam is held every day, except for a few national holidays and holidays as the test facility decides.

    Paper-based IELTS: You can take your exam only on 48 fixed dates in a year, with only one time slot available in a single day. The exam is usually held on Thursdays or Saturdays.

  • Word Count Calculation:

    Computer-based IELTS: The computer automatically calculates the words in your answer. Hence, you can expect better accuracy and save time to count words yourself.

    Paper-based IELTS: You will have to calculate the word count of all your answers manually. The word-counting process is time-consuming and might lead to counting errors.

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The IELTS exam format comprises listening, reading, writing, and speaking sections and must be completed within 2 hours and 45 minutes. Each section has a different time duration and several questions to be answered:

  • Reading: 60 minutes(40 questions)
  • Writing: 60 minutes(2 questions)
  • Listening: 30 minutes(40 questions)
  • Speaking: 11-14 minutes(Variable)

The online IELTS test pattern is similar to the paper-based exam. You are required to take listening, reading and writing sections on the same day. The Speaking test is given by video call or in person with an IELTS examiner.

No. The exam pattern for IELTS does not change. IELTS has four main components: listening, reading, writing, and speaking- all of which are compulsory to attempt. However, a new change has been introduced in 2023 called “One-Skill Retake”. With this feature, you can re-attempt one of the sections if you do not score well in that section. However, this feature is only available in Australia.

There are two types of writing tasks in the IELTS exam. Task 2 of the IELTS General and Academic examinations involve essay writing. Task 1 for IELTS Academic is report writing, and IELTS General includes letter writing.

The difficulty level of the IELTS exam can vary from person to person. Well, it depends on your preparation. If you are well-versed with all the question types asked in all exam sections, you can easily qualify IELTS exam with flying colors.

The capitalization of a word does not matter on the IELTS listening exam as long as the pronunciation is clear and the term is written correctly. The listening test focuses on comprehending spoken English rather than word capitalization.

IELTS is optional for studying in English-speaking countries. Other English proficiency tests like PTE Academic, TOEFL, or Cambridge English Exam are also accepted by famous study abroad destinations. So, you can opt for either English proficiency test other than the IELTS exam.

Writing, reading, hearing, and speaking all bear the same weight, 25% of the test. However, in the writing test, Task 2 is valued at 66.7%, and Task 1 is worth 33.3% of the total writing score. All sections of the IELTS exam are evaluated on a band scale of 0-9. First, the band scores are calculated for each section, and then an average of individual band scores equals the overall band score.

The Listening and Speaking sections of IELTS remain the same across both IELTS Academic and General exam types.

The IELTS exam has four components or modules: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

Four sections, each with ten questions in the Listening test, are to be answered within 30 minutes. The answers to the questions are arranged so that they appear in the same sequence as they do in the audio. The listening exam is worth 40 marks. The marks obtained out of 40 are converted into equivalent band scores.

The IELTS Academic Reading section contains three long texts, each accompanied by 13-14 questions. The Academic Reading section includes different types of passages extracted from books, journals, magazines, research papers, etc. You must complete 40 questions within 60 minutes in the IELTS Academic Reading test.

The writing section is a bit tricky because you must generate unique ideas and structure them coherently and cohesively. Moreover, the marking pattern in writing remains unclear to many students. Test takers are scored based on four criteria: Task Achievement / Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Before enrolling in an IELTS preparation course, B1 students should take a General English course. Consider taking an IELTS preparation course if your IELTS score is B2 or higher to ensure it accurately represents your competence level.

An IELTS course can help people whose English ability is considered below average since it is designed to assess a person's level of English language proficiency. It is crucial to remember that the IELTS is a difficult test that needs much planning and study. Spending some time honing your English will be good before taking the IELTS. To better prepare for the test, conducting research and choosing a course designed especially for those with little English proficiency may also be beneficial.