Types of IELTS Exams

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, exam is categorized into two main types:

IELTS Academic

The exam is taken by students who wish to pursue higher education overseas. The test is specifically designed to examine a student’s capability to understand the English-based medium of instruction and syllabus.

IELTS General

The IELTS General test is taken by individuals planning to work in or migrate to English-speaking countries. The exam judges the candidate’s ability to communicate in everyday situations in the workplace or social settings.

Suggested Read: Understand the difference between IELTS Academic and General Training

What is the Section Order in the IELTS Exam?

The order of the sections for the IELTS exam is listed below:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

There are two IELTS exam options: computer-based and paper-based. For both exam types, writing, reading, and listening examinations must be taken on the same day. IELTS Academic and IELTS General have similar listening and speaking sections, whereas the reading and writing sections are different for both IELTS exam types. 

The Speaking exam for computer-based IELTS is given on the same day as or after your scheduled test. The Speaking exam for Paper-based IELTS can be arranged 7 days before or after your planned IELTS test date.

Section-wise Syllabus for IELTS Academic

The exam consists of four test sections; Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. A scale from 0 to 9 is used to assess the IELTS exam. Each segment is examined based on the fulfilment of specified criteria. Each segment's band score is computed independently, and the total IELTS band score is the average of all sectional bands.

Each exam section has a different format, syllabus, question types, marking criteria, and time duration. In this section, we will discuss the detailed syllabus of the IELTS Academic exam sections separately.

Listening Section

The Listening section presents you with four audio recordings, followed by 10 questions for each recording. In total, the listening section contains 40 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. You must develop active listening skills to hear and grasp the specific information shared in the audio. Different English-native accents, ranging from British to American and Australian English, are used in the recordings. The four different types of recordings played during the Listening test are listed below:

Types of Recordings

  • Recording 1: A friendly interaction between two people in a social setting regularly. Consider a conversation between two people regarding popular spots to visit.
  • Recording 2: A common social context speech. For instance, an opening speech about different nearby amenities.
  • Recording 3: A four-person group conversation in an educational context. A university lecturer, for example, may discuss an assignment with a group of students.
  • Recording 4: A discourse on an academic theme. Suppose a university professor's lecture.

After listening to these recordings, you will be asked several types of questions:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Matching
  • Plan, Map, and Diagram Labeling
  • Form, Note, Table, Flowchart, and Summary Completion
  • Sentence Completion
  • Short-answer Questions

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Reading Section

The IELTS Reading section contains 40 questions to be completed within 60 minutes. The section presents three long passages extracted from books, newspapers, journals, periodicals, and research papers. 13–14 questions are asked after each passage.

Different types of questions asked in the reading test

  • Multiple Choice
  • Identifying Information
  • Identifying the Writer’s Views and Claims
  • Matching Information
  • Matching Headings
  • Matching Features
  • Matching Sentence Endings
  • Sentence Completion
  • Summary, Note, Table, and Flowchart Completion
  • Diagram Label Completion
  • Short-answer Questions

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Writing Section

The writing section includes two types of tasks to be completed within 60 minutes. The writing style of both IELTS Academic Writing Tasks must be formal only. Using casual language or slang might result in a loss of marks. We have discussed both task types below:

Task 1

Writing Task 1 requires you to write a report of 150 words or more within 20 minutes. The most important elements of your IELTS report writing are:

  • Introduction: Alter the task description by employing synonyms, shifting word forms, tenses, and sentence structures. Describe briefly what you observe in the graphic depiction.
  • Overview: Explain the diagram's key features, trends, and changes.
  • Key Features: Highlight significant facts using figures, percentages, and changes in the key elements of graphical representation.

Task 1 is given half the weightage of Task 2. There are four scoring criteria for task 1, each carrying equal emphasis (25% for each criterion):

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

Read More:IELTS Writing Task 1 question types

Task 2

Task 2 of the Academic IELTS requires you to write an essay of 250 words or more within 40 minutes. There are the following seven different types of essays asked in Task 2 of the writing test:

  • Discussion Essay
  • Opinion Essay
  • Multi-part Essay
  • Multi-part and Opinion Essay
  • Positive/Negative Essay
  • Cause/Solution Essay
  • Advantage/Disadvantage Essay

Also Read: Types of Essays for IELTS Writing Exam

The essays can cover a wide range of topics like education, technology, crime, environmental issues, global crises, etc. You must follow a basic essay framework for IELTS essay writing:

  • Introduction (2-3 sentences)
  • Body Paragraph 1 (6–8 sentences)
  • Body Paragraph 2 (6–8 sentences)
  • Conclusion (2-3 sentences)

Suggested Read: Everything You Need to Know IELTS Writing Task 2

Also Read: Types of Essays for IELTS Writing Exam

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Speaking Section

The Speaking test is given through video call or face-to-face with an IELTS examiner. The duration of the exam is 11–14 minutes. The IELTS speaking test comprises three parts, as listed below:

Part 1: Introduction(4-5 minutes)

The examiner will ask you about your family, work, education, personal interests, and hobbies. This is just a preliminary step taken by the examiner to understand you better.

Part 2: Task Card(3-4 minutes)

In the next step, you have to select a task card that specifies your speech topic. You will be given 1-2 minutes to prepare notes on the assigned topic. Then, the examiner will ask you to speak on the given theme for around 1-2 minutes.

Part 3: In-Depth Discussion(4-5 minutes)

The final step in the speaking test is more interactive and involves more intense questions from the examiner. This round requires you to give more detailed answers and checks your knowledge of the matter in discussion. The number of questions asked depends on your discussion with the examiner.

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Tips to Prepare for the IELTS Exam

Preparing for IELTS with the following useful tips will help you crack the IELTS exam with flying colors:

  • Understand the IELTS Test Format Thoroughly
  • Comprehend the Marking Criteria and Band Scores
  • Practice Each Question type
  • Prepare for Each IELTS Section
  • Improve your Vocabulary and Grammar
  • Speak English every day
  • Watch English Media
  • Build a Regular Reading Habit
  • Take Pre-timed Practice Tests

Get a Detailed Study Guide and Tips to Ace Each IELTS Section


The IELTS Academic Syllabus is available on the official website, ielts.org. However, to prepare for the IELTS exam, you might require online or offline coaching.

The IELTS curriculum comprises four sections: writing, listening, speaking, and reading. Each of these sections contains several questions and parts.
The reading section contains three long passages with 13–14 questions in each passage. Writing sections comprise two tasks; Task 1 is report writing, and Task 2 is essay writing. The listening section consists of four audio recordings, followed by 10 questions in each recording. The speaking section contains three parts.

No. IELTS Academic exam questions are not repeated. For the speaking test, you might get previously used topics. But you cannot memorize your speech, as IELTS examiners are trained to identify mugged-up speech, for which you lose marks.

The SAT is a standardized test that examines a student’s English and Mathematics skills. It is required for admission to undergraduate courses in foreign countries, especially the USA.
On the other hand, IELTS is an English-language proficiency test to judge the linguistic skills of a student. Both tests have their significance and are required for studying undergraduate programs in English-speaking countries.

The IELTS test only determines your proficiency level in the English language. It does not declare a test taker based on pass or fail. Even if you have low English proficiency, you can still pass the IELTS exam with your desired band score with practice and determination. The best way to increase your English proficiency is to read English books, newspapers, watch English media, listen to English music, podcasts, and expand your vocabulary.

A dedicated IELTS coaching will help you familiarize yourself with the exam curriculum and guide you through strategies to crack every IELTS section. Career Launcher has online and offline IELTS coaching services that will help you get your dream band score.

The GRE and IELTS are completely different exams. GRE is a standardized test to check your quantitative aptitude, while IELTS is an English language proficiency test. GRE and IELTS have different syllabuses; hence, you will have to prepare for each exam separately.