IELTS Paper Pattern

Published On: 24 Mar 2012

 | Last Updated On: 16 Nov 2012

The International English Languages Testing System (IELTS) is widely recognized as a reliable means of assessing whether candidates are ready to study or train in the medium of English. IELTS is owned by three partners, The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, the British Council and IDP Education Australia (through its subsidiary company IELTS Australia Pty Limited). The main purpose of this book of Practice Tests is to give future IELTS candidates an idea of whether their English is at the required level. Further information on IELTS can be found in the IELTS Handbook available free of charge from IELTS centers.

What is the Test Format?

IELTS consists of six modules. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules. There is a choice of Reading and Writing Modules according to whether a candidate is taking the Academic or General Training version of the test.

Academic – For candidates taking the test entry to undergraduate or postgraduate studies or for professional reasons.

General Training – For candidates taking the test for entry to vocational or training programmes not at degree level, for admission to secondary schools and for immigration purposes.

The test modules are taken in the following order.

Listing

4 sections, 40 items

30 minutes

Academic Reading

3 sections, 40 items

60 minutes

General Training Reading

3 sections, 40 items

60 minutes

Academic Writing

2 tasks

60 minutes

General Training Writing

2 tasks

60 minutes

Speaking

10 to 15 minutes (11 to 14 minutes from July 2001)

Total test time

2 hours 44 minutes

Listening -

This is in four sections, each with 10 questions. The first two sections are concerned with social needs. There is a conversation between two speakers and then a monologue. The final two sections are concerned with situations related to educational or training contexts. There is a conversation between up to four people and then a monologue.

A variety of question types is used, including: multiple choice, short-answer questions, sentence completion, notes/chart/table completion, labelling a diagram, classification, matching.

Candidates hear the recording once only and answer the questions as they listen. Ten minutes are allowed at the end to transfer answers to the answer sheet.

Academic Reading -

There are three reading passages, of increasing difficulty, on topics of general interest and candidates have to answer 40 questions. The passages are taken from magazines, journals, books and newspapers. At least one text contains detailed logical argument.

A variety of question types is used, including: multiple choice, short-answer questions, sentence completion, notes/chart/table completion, labelling a diagram, classification, matching lists/phrases, choosing suitable paragraph headings from a list, identification of writer’s views/attitudes – yes, no, not given.

General Training Reading -

Candidates have to answer 40 questions. There are three sections of increasing difficulty, containing texts taken from notices, advertisements, leaflets, newspapers, instruction manuals, books and magazines. The first section contains texts relevant to basic linguistic survival in English, with tasks mainly concerned with providing factual information. The second section focuses on the training context and involves texts of more complex language.

The third section involves reading more extended texts, with a more complex structure, but with the emphasis on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts.

A variety of question types is used, including: multiple choice, short-answer questions, sentence completion, notes/chart/table completion, labelling a diagram, classification, matching lists/phrases, choosing suitable paragraph headings from a list, identification of writer’s views/attitudes – yes, no, not given, or true, false, not given.

Academic Writing -

There are two tasks and it is suggested that candidates spend about 20 minutes on Task 1, which requires them to write at least 150 words and 40 minutes on Task 2 – 250 words. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.

In Task 1 candidates are asked to look at a diagram or table and to present the information in their own words. They are assessed on their ability to organise, present and possibly compare data, describe the stages of a process, describe an object or event, explain how something works.

In Task 2 candidates are presented with a point of view, argument or problem. They are assessed on their ability to present a solution to the problem, present and justify an opinion, compare and contrast evidence and opinions, evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or arguments.

Candidates are also judged on their ability to write in an appropriate style.

General Training Writing -

There are two tasks and it is suggested that candidates spend about 20 minutes on Task 1, which requires them to write at least 150 words and 40 minutes on Task 2 – 250 words. The assessment of Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1.

In Task 1 candidates are asked to respond to a given problem with a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. They are assessed on their ability to engage in personal correspondence, elicit and provide general factual information, express needs, wants, likes and dislikes, express opinions, complaints, etc.

In Task 2 candidates are presented with a point of view, argument or problem. They are assessed on their ability to provide general factual information, outline a problem and present a solution, present and justify an opinion, evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or arguments.

Candidates are also judged on their ability to write in an appropriate style.

Speaking -

(A revised Speaking Module will be operational from July 2001.)

This consists of a conversation between the candidate and an examiner and takes between 10 and 15 minutes. There are five sections:

  1. Introduction - The examiner and candidate introduce themselves and the candidate is encouraged to talk briefly about their life, home, work and interests.
  2. Extended discourse - The candidate is encouraged to speak at length about some familiar topic of general interest or of relevance to their culture, place of living or country of origin. This will involve explanation, description or narration.
  3. Elicitation - The candidate is given a task card with some information on it and is encouraged to take the initiative and ask questions either to elicit information or to solve a problem.
  4. Speculation and Attitudes - The candidate is encouraged to talk about their future plans and proposed course of study. Alternatively the examiner may choose to return to a topic raised earlier.
  5. Conclusion - The interview is concluded. Candidates are assessed on their ability to communicate effectively with native speakers of English. The assessment takes into account evidence of communicative strategies and appropriate use of grammar and vocabulary.

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