Understanding the IELTS syllabus is essential for achieving top results. This guide provides expert insights into its components, format, techniques, and resources to pass the test.
IELTS Syllabus and Test Versions
The IELTS exam has two versions: Academic and General Training.
Academic is for those who wish to pursue higher education in an English-speaking country. General Training is for those wanting to work or migrate to such countries. The IELTS syllabus encompasses four main sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
IELTS Test Syllabus Overview
|Test Component||Academic IELTS||General Training IELTS||Time Allotted|
|Listening||4 sections, 40 questions||4 sections, 40 questions||30 minutes|
|Reading||3 passages, 40 questions||Multiple texts, 40 questions||60 minutes|
|Writing||Task 1: Describe data; Task 2: Essay||Task 1: Write a letter; Task 2: Essay||60 minutes|
|Speaking||Part 1: Background; Part 2: Topic; Part 3: Discussion||Part 1: Background; Part 2: Topic; Part 3: Discussion||11-14 minutes|
IELTS Listening Syllabus
Listening consists of 40 questions across four sections. Candidates have 30 minutes to complete the whole test, with some time added at the end to complete their answers. The recordings may feature conversations, monologues, or discussions. The context will either be Academic or Social.
|Section||Type of Recording||Number of Questions||Key Aspects|
|1||Conversation (two speakers)||10||Social context; everyday topics|
|2||Monologue (one speaker)||10||Social context; everyday topics|
|3||Conversation (up to four speakers)||10||Academic context; educational or training-related topics|
|4||Monologue (one speaker)||10||Academic context; lecture or talk on an academic subject|
IELTS Reading Syllabus
In the Reading section, test takers must answer 40 questions based on three or more passages for the Academic IELTS and several shorter texts or excerpts for the General Training IELTS. Candidates have 60 minutes to complete this part of the test. The passages can span various subjects, such as science, history, culture, or environmental issues.
|Academic IELTS||General Training IELTS|
|Passages||3 passages from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers||Section 1: 2-3 short texts; Section 2: 2 texts; Section 3: 1 long text|
|Time||60 minutes||60 minutes|
|Questions||40 questions total||40 questions total|
|Types||Multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary/note/table/flow-chart completion, diagram labeling, short-answer questions||Multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary/note/table/flow-chart completion, diagram labeling, short-answer questions|
|Topics||Wide-ranging subjects, such as science, history, culture, or environmental issues||Section 1: Everyday social context; Section 2: Workplace context; Section 3: General reading texts|
|Skills||Reading comprehension, skimming, scanning, identifying main ideas, understanding specific details, recognizing opinions and attitudes, inferring, and summarizing||Reading comprehension, skimming, scanning, identifying main ideas, understanding specific details, recognizing opinions and attitudes, inferring, and summarizing|
IELTS Speaking Syllabus
The Speaking section is an 11-14 minute face-to-face interview, split into three parts. Part 1 involves answering general questions about the candidate’s everyday life, such as background, interests, and experiences. Part 2 requires the candidate to speak on a topic for up to 2 minutes. Part 3 is an abstract discussion about topics introduced in Part 2.
|Part||Task Description||Time Allotted||Key Aspects|
|1||Answer general questions about your background, interests, and experiences||4-5 minutes||Fluency, accuracy, vocabulary, and pronunciation|
|2||Speak on a given topic for 1-2 minutes (prepare for 1 minute with a prompt card)||3-4 minutes||Fluency, accuracy, vocabulary, pronunciation, and ability to organize thoughts and ideas|
|3||Two-way discussion based on the topic in Part 2; the examiner will ask further questions related to the topic||4-5 minutes||Fluency, accuracy, vocabulary, pronunciation, and ability to express and justify opinions|
IELTS Writing Syllabus
The Writing section requires the completion of two tasks within 60 minutes. For the Academic IELTS, Task 1 involves describing a graph, table, chart, or diagram, while Task 2 is an essay addressing a specific topic. For the General Training IELTS, Task 1 requires writing a letter, and Task 2 is also an essay on a given topic.
|Task||Academic IELTS||General Training IELTS||Time Allotted||Key Aspects|
|1||Describe a graph, table, chart, or diagram||Write a letter (formal or informal)||20 minutes||Clarity, coherence, grammar, vocabulary, and appropriate tone|
|2||Write an essay on a given topic||Write an essay on a given topic||40 minutes||Clarity, coherence, grammar, vocabulary, and ability to address the topic and support arguments|
Strategies for IELTS Success
- Understand the test format: A thorough understanding of the IELTS syllabus and format will enable you to navigate the test more effectively, improving your performance.
- Use a Reliable Course: Our free IELTS Fundamentals Course teaches you everything you need to know.
- Practice: Regularly taking full-length practice tests simulates the actual test environment and helps you gauge your progress. You will find free, reliable tests here.
- Master Time Management: Develop efficient time management skills to tackle each section of the IELTS exam within the allotted time frame.
- Strengthen Your Vocabulary: An extensive vocabulary will significantly improve your comprehension and response abilities in the Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking sections.
- Enhance Your Grammar and Punctuation: Solid grammar and punctuation skills are essential for accurately conveying your ideas in the Writing section and comprehending complex texts in the Reading section.
- Receive Feedback: Whenever possible, practice with an ex-examiner who can offer valuable feedback and guidance on your performance. Check out our Essay Correction Service.