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There are 4 sections in IELTS: Listening, Writing, Speaking & Reading

The duration of IELTS exam is 2 hour 45 minutes.

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IELTS Exam Pattern!!!This is one major concern of applicants who want to appear for IELTS. Anyone who wants to go abroad for studies, work, or stay in an English-speaking country needs to pass this test. IELTS is like a golden ticket that assures the student has a good knowledge of the language and can communicate with the natives of the country.

However, the main obstacle here is the level of complexity of the IELTS test format. Yes, since it is a crucial assessment, clearing it is also not that easy. But it's just IELTS and not rocket science. So, if you have a clear idea about the exam, you might have a chance to pass it with good band scores and fly overseas. But, for that, you need some expert advice. Since the test is really important, you need to know all about it before you get started. So, let's take a quick look at the IELTS paper pattern and its types here.

IELTS Exam Pattern For Academic And General Test

The IELTS Listening and Speaking tests are the same, regardless of whether you choose to sit for the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training test. In both the General Training and the Academic tests, the Speaking and Listening sections are the same. However, the Reading and Writing sections of these tests differ.

  • Part 1: Background
  • Part 2: Topic
  • Part 3: Discussions
  • Part 1: Background
  • Part 2: Topic
  • Part 3: Discussions
11-14 Minutes
LISTENING4 Sections 40 Questions4 Sections 40 Questions30 Minutes
READING3 Passages 40 QuestionsMultiple Texts 40 Questions 60 Minutes
  • Task 1: Describe Data
  • Task 2: Essay
  • Task 1: Write a Letter
  • Task 2: Essay
60 Minutes

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1. Speaking Section (11-14 Minutes)

The IELTS speaking section is a face-to-face interview that is recorded. Thus, the IELTS exam structure for the speaking section is divided into three tasks, each with a specific pattern to judge your speaking ability on different parameters. This is the shortest test in context to time but is considered the toughest. It is a hardly 15-minute session with the interviewer face-to-face.

Format Of Speaking Section

TASK 1: INTRODUCTIONGeneral questions on family, hobbies, friends, work or home.
TASK 2: CUE CARDSpeak about topic on cue card and examiner will ask questions on it.
TASK 3: DISCUSSIONDetailed discussion about the topic in the Task 2.

Types Of Questions

Task 1

  • Can you tell me about your family members?
  • Are you working or still studying?
  • What is your favourite hobby?

Task 2

  • What did you do in your last summer?
  • Describe a person you look up to
  • Explain a Goal that You would Like to Achieve

Task 3

  • How did your summer holiday contribute to making you a better person?
  • From your perspective, is travelling alone or together better?
  • In what way has spending holidays changed in recent years?

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2. Listening Section (30 Minutes)

The next segment of the IELTS paper pattern is listening. This is a 30-minute duration segment. It includes 4 passages of monologues or conversations. This section contains 40 questions. Candidates appearing for this section need to listen to 4 different recordings, which include a conversation between two people in a social context, a monologue in a social context, a conversation between a group on an educational/general topic and a monologue on an educational topic.

Format Of Listening Section

TASK 1: 1ST RECORDINGGeneral conversation between two English speaking persons
TASK 2: 2ND RECORDINGMonologue on any general theme
TASK 3: 3RD RECORDINGConversation between 2 or 3 people on an educational theme
TASK 4: 4TH RECORDINGMonologue on an educational theme

Types Of Questions

  • Multiple Choice: This includes 4 options and a question. The candidate needs to pick the right answer/s from the given options.
  • Matching: In this question, there is a list of options that the candidate must match with the information in the recording.
  • Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling: The question includes a map, plan or diagrams, and the candidate must label them as per the information in the recording.
  • Summary/Note/Table: The questions include incomplete information or gaps. The candidate must fill them out based on the information in the recording.
  • Sentence Completion: This question includes sentences based on important information from the recording. The candidate must complete them to clarify the right point.
  • Short Answer Questions: The candidate must answer the questions in short answers within the provided word limit.

3. Reading Section (60 Minutes)

Reading is a 60-minute exam that includes 3 main paragraphs of 2150-2750 words in total and 40 questions. This section is different for both the types of the test, that is, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

Candidates appearing for this segment should thoroughly read the passages and the visual content (If any), comprehend the information and transfer the answers based on their understanding. This is to be completed within the provided time. Every right answer gets one mark, and the total score of 40 is converted to an IELTS band score. So, to score well in the test, seeking IELTS coaching from the experts is the smart choice. Furthermore, read ahead to explore the format of each type separately.

Format Of IELTS Academic Reading Section

In IELTS Academic test format, three long paragraphs, which could be factual, descriptive, or analytical, will be given to aspirants. The source of these will be academic books, journals, research work and more.

Format Of IELTS General Training Reading Section

In IELTS general test format, three long paragraphs, which could be factual, descriptive, or analytical, will be given to aspirants. The source of these will be from companies' guidelines, brochures or advertisements and more.

Types Of Questions

  • Matching Headings
  • Matching Features
  • True or False
  • Choose a Title
  • Multiple Choice
  • Short Answers
  • List of Options
  • Sentence Completion
  • Table Completion
  • Summary Completion
  • Completion of Diagrams
  • Matching Sentence Endings
  • Matching Paragraph Information

4. Writing Section (60 Minutes)

This is again a 60-minute exam that includes 2 tasks, 1 on describing any visual element and the second on essay writing. Candidates appearing for this exam are provided 60 minutes, which needs to be divided into 20 for 150 word-description writing and 40 minutes for 250-word essay writing. These two questions are evaluated by certified IELTS examiners who report the scores in IELTS bands. Here is the task description in detail for the IELTS Academic exam.

Format Of IELTS Academic Writing Section

TASK 1: DESCRIBE DATAYou will be given a graph, table, diagram or chart and asked to describe, explain or summarize it in your own words.
TASK 2: WRITE AN ESSAYWrite an essay in response to a specific perspective, issue, or argument and support it with evidences.

Types Of Questions

  • The bar graph illustrates the percentage of people aged 60+ in five countries in 2000 and 2050. Summarize the data and make comparisons where appropriate.
  • Technological advancements are taking place every day, and some people think they are for the betterment of the citizens, but others take them as exploitation of labour. Discuss both perspectives and give your opinion.
  • In many countries, the population is growing, which is a major cause of pollution there. Suggest some ways to control both issues.

Format Of IELTS General Writing Section

TASK 1: WRITE A LETTERWrite a letter on a situation presented either request or to inform.
TASK 2: ESSAYDraft an essay in response to a perspective or argument.

Types Of Questions

  • You are organizing a family event and have to book a venue. Write a letter to the manager to enquire about availability, facilities, menu, prices and more about the place.
  • Some countries are suffering due to the increase in the use of plastic bags, which is a major environmental issue. Discuss the problems associated with plastic bags and suggest possible solutions.
  • Many people prefer to live in big cities, whereas others still enjoy the rural lifestyle. Discuss the perks and cons of both the areas and give your opinion about the same.

Key Points To Remember For IELTS Exam Pattern

There are some points by the study abroad consultants to note about the exam pattern while appearing for the IELTS exam and ensure you do not struggle on the test day. Here are some of them:

  • Reading, listening and writing tasks will be taken on the same day by the candidates without any break in between.
  • IELTS speaking section will be taken any day within 7 days before or after the other sections.
  • In both versions of the IELTS test, the listening and speaking sections are from modules, but the writing and reading section differs.
  • IELTS scores are marked on a scale of 0-9 band, where 0 is for the non-user, and 9 is for the expert user.


The IELTS exam pattern has always been a point of concern for test takers. There are four different sections for which there is a distinct pattern. But when the professionals step in, it is just a simple approach. So, if you have any queries on any segment of this test, feel free to check out this page or reach out to Gradding experts for the best guidance.

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