Give us feedbackX

Which IELTS test is right for me?

COVID-19: Information for our global test taker community

The IELTS Partners are committed to protecting the health of the test takers, while also trying to minimise disruption to life-changing opportunities for international higher education and migration.

Changes to test day operations

In locations where it is permitted and safe to do so, IELTS testing is going ahead, with additional precautions in place to help protect the health of test takers and staff.

In particular, test takers are not to attend an IELTS test if they have been in contact with anybody suspected to have been exposed to novel coronavirus (Covid-19), or who have a cough, fever or are showing signs of being short of breath. Additional requirements may apply depending on the region where you are taking the test. Test takers may contact the teams to discuss options for transferring to a later date or refunds.

In some locations, IELTS testing is suspended in line with official requirements of healthcare authorities.

In these locations, detailed plans are put in place to ensure that test takers are able to take their tests as soon as possible once the official restrictions are removed.

Additional health and safety precautions on test day, including wearing a mask

The health of our test takers and staff is the key priority.

If you have been in contact with a person suspected to have been exposed to novel coronavirus, or if you are unwell, have a cough or fever, or are showing signs of being short of breath, please contact your test centre to reschedule your test or to arrange a refund.

Test takers are requested to follow official advice, including required self-isolation or quarantine restrictions in the country where they are taking the test.

Wearing a mask

As a precautionary health measure, until further notice, test takers, centre staff and examiners may wear a face mask covering their mouth and nose during the test.

Test takers are welcome to bring their own mask. Please be aware that you may be requested to uncover your face temporarily for some security checks.

The IELTS Partners are also looking into various solutions to support test takers, including:

  • Increased test session availability in regions impacted by suspensions as soon as we can restart testing. In particular, capability to double the paper-based test taker capacity in China as soon as we restart testing.

  • Supporting test takers with free preparation materials in readiness for their test.

  • Computer-delivered IELTS test sessions increased in frequency in affected areas, up to three times per day, seven days per week.

  • Larger test venues will be used to accommodate increased volumes of paper-based test takers.

  • More flexible use of Speaking examiners from around the world to ensure test takers can complete their Speaking tests as quickly as possible.

Ensuring quality of language testing during this situation IELTS is the gold standard of English language testing and we know the importance of students having the correct level of English to excel in their chosen course, and for them to get the maximum out of their social interactions on campus.

This depends on robust security measures to prevent malpractice and fraudulent behaviour. These measures support genuine test takers and protect the interests of the organizations who rely on the integrity of English language test results.

IELTS test info

There are two types of the IELTS test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.

This approach is widely supported by the institutions that recognise IELTS.

IELTS General Training

The IELTS General Training test is for those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training programs. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and . The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.


Test format

The IELTS test assesses your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking – in less than three hours.

There are two types of IELTS: Academic and General Training. Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test centre will advise.

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Test format – Listening

30 minutes

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  • Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.

  • Recording 2 - a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

  • Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

  • Recording 4 - a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.

Test format – Reading

60 minutes

The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS Academic test - this includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

Test format – Reading

60 minutes

The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS General Training test - this includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

Test format – Academic Writing

60 minutes

Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for, test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. There are two tasks:

  • Task 1 - you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

  • Task 2 - you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

Test format – Speaking

11–14 minutes

The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

  • Part 1 - the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

  • Part 2 - you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 - you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Receive regular updates, discounts, study guides and more

By clicking “Subscribe”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related emails.