IELTS Test Information

Get familiar with the IELTS Test Format


There are two types of IELTS tests: IELTS Academic and IELTS General. The Listening and Speaking parts are the same for both tests, the Reading texts for the academic exam are more difficult and Writing task 1 is also different. In the academic version, you need to write a report based on one of the following: a bar chart, a pie chart, a graph, a diagram, a map or a process diagram.

The IELTS general writing task 1 could be one of the following: a letter to a friend, a formal letter to a company or University, a request, an apology, a complaint, making an arrangement or an invitation. Some letters are formal, semi formal or informal.

The speaking section of the test can be taken on a different day or on the same day as the listening, reading and writing. This is the same for both types of test.

IELTS Academic: If you want to study at a University as an undergraduate or postgraduate, or work for a professional company in an English speaking country this is the right test for you.

IELTS General: If you want to live in an English speaking country or do work related training there, then this is the test for you.

Be Realistic.

You really need to be at B2 level on the Common European Framework to get a chance of Band 7 or more. Find your weaknesses and work on those. If someone tries to guarantee that you will get a Band 7 in a week then you should be very careful of that advice.

I recommend that your English studies be about 40% IELTS practice tests and 60% real world English from the media , books, TV , conversation practice, Youtube videos such as TED talks, BBC documentaries, vocabulary and grammar building exercises and so on. Another point to consider is to be exposed to various accents in your Listening homework such as:  Australian, American, Canadian and British. The IELTS test is not just about British English.

Make sure you are well prepared before taking the IELTS exam. There are no special tricks or shortcuts to getting a high score, it takes hard work to get a high band score so it is advised that you prepare for at least 2 to 3 months before taking the IELTS exam.

Get to know the Common European Framework.

The Common European framework is a guide showing the levels of language learners, there are 6 levels. It starts at A1 beginner up to C1 proficient…here is a diagram showing how it relates to IELTS.

Click here to go to for more information on this.


How do I prepare for IELTS?

Some people are not fully prepared or informed about the format or structure of the test, some are not prepared to do the hard work needed to get a high band score. Many also do not know the strategies for the writing task 2 essays. It is very important that you are prepared well in advance. There are no special tricks or shortcuts to getting a high score, it takes hard work to get a high band score.

The writing tasks are usually the hardest. I advise preparing for at least 2 or 3 months before taking the test.

IELTS examiners are marking on four criteria in the writing tasks:  vocabulary, grammar, organisation of the essay, ideas and arguments. So you need academic words and phrases, accurate grammar, good use of collocations, good paragraphing with well developed ideas that state your opinions.

Click here to learn more detail about what is in the IELTS test.

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

IELTS test

IELTS Band scores and marking citeria.

There are four criteria in the IELTS Writing section that you will be marked on.

Writing Task 1

1. Task Achievement
2. Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy
4. Coherance and Cohesion

Writing Task 2

1. Task Response
2. Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy
4. Coherence and Cohesion


1. Fluency and coherence
2. Lexical resource (Vocabulary)
3. Grammatical range and accuracy

The IELTS Band scores are form 1 to 9. Each part of the test gets a band score. the score can be whole like 5.0 or 7.0 etc or there can be .5 scores added such as band 7.5 or 5.5 and so on… the chart below comes from the British council.

© British Council

Overall Band Score.

The Overall Band Score is the average of the four component scores, rounded to the nearest whole or half band. The component scores are weighted equally. Check here at for more detail about overall band score and component band score

Assessment Criteria

Click here for the PDF link showing the assessment criteria for Writing Task 1 IELTS

Clich here for the PDF link showing the assessment criteria for Writing Task 2 IELTS

Click here for the PDF link showing the band description for the Speaking task in IELTS

How long is an IELTS score valid for?

Usually the normal validity period (after which time you should retake the IELTS test) is 2 years.

Check out our Facebook page for updates and articles.

To get updates and newsletters on new blog posts sent by email, subscribe in the box at the top of the page.