IELTS Exam Syllabus



IELTS Exam Syllabus 2021

The IELTS exam is conducted and administered by the British Council, IDP and Cambridge ESOL Examinations for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training formats of the Exam. The IELTS is an English Language Proficiency exam that tests the English language ability of people who intend to study or work where English is the language of communication. The exam is a test of the IELTS Listening, IELTS Reading, IELTS Writing and IELTS Speaking skills of the exam taker.

It is to be noted that the Listening and Speaking sections would be the same for IELTS academic and IELTS General Training modules, however, Reading and Writing are different in structure for IELTS Academic and General Training Modules.


Exam Pattern of IELTS 2021

The IELTS exam has two test-taking variants from which the students can choose depending on their comfortability. As a student, it is important to know the IELTS exam syllabus and IELTS exam pattern of each variant to help one prepare better.


Exam Variant Total Duration Listening Reading Writing Speaking Conducting Bodies Score Pattern & Range
Paper-Based IELTS Test 174 minutes 30 + 10 = 40 (Answer Transfer Time) 60 60 11 to 14 British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). 0 – 9 Bands with a possibility of 0.5 band intervals.
Computer-Based IELTS Test 164 30 60 60 11 to 14


IELTS Test Component

1. IELTS Academic and General Listening

General Rules and Guidelines

  • At the end, Candidates will be given 10 minutes to copy the answers onto the answer sheet (Only in the case of the Paper-Based IELTS test)
  • Spelling is important –can use both British and American spelling but should stick to one type.
  • The answer sheet has two sides One for the Listening test / One for the Reading test
  • 04 Sections / 40 Questions

IELTS Listening Components

  • Section 2: Monologue (A talk by a single speaker based on a non-academic situation, e.g. in a film, play etc.)
  • Section 3: Conversation (Four Speakers -based on academic topics or course-related situations)
  • Section 4: Academic Lecture (Monologue)


2. IELTS Reading (Different for Academic and General Training Modules)

General Rules and Guideline

  • All candidates are required to read three texts of between 2,150-2,750 words
  • The texts and questions increase in difficulty
  • All answers should be recorded on the answer sheet within 60 minutes. (ZERO score)
  • Each question is worth one mark
  • No penalty for wrong answers
  • Spelling is important – can use both British and American spelling
  • No Transfer time is Given

IELTS Reading Components

  • Texts are taken from books, magazines, journals, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines.
  • All written for a non-specialist audience
  • At least one of the text contains a detailed argument
  • 3 sections
  • Text range from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical
  • May contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams
  • Length and Difficulty level of reading passages increase with each passage.
  •  Passages are different and shorter for General Training IELTS
  • Questions Vary from Summary Completion, Matching Heading to Paragraphs, Yes/ no /not given, True/ False/ Not Given, Multiple Choice questions, Table completion, Matching Information, Sentence completion and short Answers.

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3. Writing (Different for Academic and General Training Modules)

General Rules and Guideline 

  • Allocate about 20 minutes Task 1
  • Allocate about 40 minutes Task 2
  • Task 2 is worth more marks

IELTS Writing Components 

  • Task 1 (IELTS ACADEMIC) Presents a table, graph, chart or diagram. The candidate must describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, describe an event or an object. (150 words approx.)
  • Task 1 (IELTS GENERAL TRAINING) Presents a letter to be written. The content required in the letter can be either
  1. Informal (To a friend, family member etc.)
  2. Semi-Formal (To a colleague, teacher etc.)
  3. Formal (Professional announcements, Letters of recommendation etc.)
  • Task 2 (Same for IELTS ACADEMIC and GENERAL TRAINING IELTS) Write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem (250 words approx.)


4. IELTS Speaking (Same for Academic and General Training)

General Rules and Guidelines

  • When the student enters the exam room:
  • Smile and act confident
  • Look at the examiner in the eyes
  • Confidently introduce oneself
  • Eliminate nervous gestures
  • Wear smart clothing
  • Speak clearly
  • Project your voice
  •  Avoid repeating phrases
  • Always say more than Yes or No
  • Time: 11 – 14 minutes
  • All Speaking tests are recorded

IELTS Speaking Components

  • Part 1 (Introduction): This section of the test lasts 4-5 minutes and in it the student may need to give longer answers to questions to ensure they show their best ability. Part 1 will see the examiner ask questions that will require the exam taker to talk about themselves, about their likes and dislikes etc.
  • Part 2 (Individual Talk): The Candidate is given a verbal prompt on a card and is asked to talk on a particular topic. 1 minute preparation time before being asked to speak at length for up to 2 minutes. The examiner then asks 1 or 2 rounding-off questions.
  • Part 3 (Discussion Topics): The examiner and candidate engage in a discussion of more abstract issues and concepts which are linked to the topic in Part 2. The discussion lasts between 4 and 5 minutes. The examiner will ask questions that will reveal the Opinions and views of the test taker. Answers In part 3 will be longer and more detailed than in part 1.

As per the IELTS exam guidelines, there are no eligibility criteria for IELTS. It tests you on the basis of four skill sets which we have discussed above.

The minimum IELTS exam requirement for admission/ migration to a country where English is the medium of communication is dependent on the institution and program of study being chosen for study abroad, aspirants. In the case of migration, the IELTS exam requirement is set out by the immigration laws of the destination country.

It is suggested that IELTS aspirants keep themselves updated on the selection procedures of the college/university/ Country being applied to.

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There are two methods for preparing for IELTS: self-study and IELTS coaching classes. Which path you take is determined on your level of language proficiency and comfort. You do not need to attend coaching classes if you are already fluent in English; you can prepare for the exam on your own. You only need to determine when you should begin preparing for IELTS.

If you choose self-study to prepare for your IELTS exam, you must study from the top IELTS preparation books and resources that are widely available. Because you will be working alone, you should ensure that you are adequately prepared for the preparation step.

You can also choose to enrol in IELTS preparation classes.

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What is the best way to prepare for the IELTS test?

An IELTS aspirants can prepare for the exam through self-study or by attending a coaching institute. Those who wish to prepare themselves will find a wide range of books and websites to prepare from. Students who need help can search for a reputed coaching institute and enrol for IELTS coaching classes.

How can I choose date for IELTS exam?

For the Paper based Test 

The IELTS has about 48 fixed dates in a year – 4 test dates in a month. Tests are held on Saturdays and Thursdays.

For the Computer delivered Test 

Up to 7 days a week, 3 times a day. To find out test dates in your area, visit IELTS official website or contact your nearest test centre.

How soon can a candidate resit the IELTS test?

Candidates can attempt the IELTS test again anytime. There is no fixed time an IELTS student has to wait before giving the test again.

If a candidate misses the exam because of a genuine medical condition?

Ideally a candidate will receive zero refund if the test is missed or if the candidate is absent on the test day. However, if the absenteeism is due to a genuine medical condition, the student can apply for a refund with all medical documents within 5 days of the exam date. If a refund is sanctioned, it will be less 25% as costs deducted for administrative fees.

How can I postpone or cancel my IELTS test?

A Candidate can cancel or postpone the IELTS exam personally or through email. Cancellation or postponement cannot be done telephonically. If a candidate postpones or cancels their application more than 5 weeks before the test date, they will receive a refund with less 25% of the administrative fee. Candidates cancelling the exam less than 5 weeks before the exam will not be entitled to any refund.
Non Attendance in the exam will attract zero refund.