Both the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training have four components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The Listening and Speaking components are the same for both versions of the IELTS. The Reading and Writing components are the ones that are different.
You will have to take the Listening, Reading, and Writing components all on the same day – with no break in between the components. Depending on the test center, the Speaking component will need to be taken on the same day after a break or on another day which could be up to seven days before or after the day of the other three components.
This component consists of four sections which are presented in order of increasing difficulty. There are ten questions in each section which amount to 40 questions in all for the Listening component. The questions are of six different types: Multiple choice, Matching, Plan/map/diagram labelling, Form/note/table/flow chart/summary completion, Sentence completion, and Short-answer questions.
The first two sections (1 and 2) are about everyday, social situations and the next two (3 and 4) are about educational and training situations.
To answer section 1 you have to listen to a conversation between two speakers. For section 2, you have to listen to one person speaking. For section 3, you have to listen to a conversation between two main speakers with occasional comments by a third speaker. For section 4, you have to listen to only one person speak on an academic subject.
You will be able to hear each recording only once. The voices in the recordings have different accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, and North American.
This component consists of 40 questions which test reading skills such as reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, and recognising the opinions, attitudes, and purpose of the writers.
IELTS Academic – This requires you to answer questions after reading three long texts taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The type of content in each of the texts could be descriptive and factual or discursive and analytical.
IELTS General Training – This requires you to read excerpts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines.
This component requires you to complete two tasks.
You will need to write your responses to both the tasks in a formal style.
Task 1 – You will be given a graph, table, chart, or diagram. You then have to describe, summarize or explain the given visual information in your own words. The information that you have to describe and explain could be data, the stages of a process, how something works, an event, or just an object.
Task 2 – You have to respond in essay form to a given point of view, argument, or problem.
IELTS General Training
Task 1 – You will be given a situation and you have to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can use a personal, semi-formal, or formal style of writing.
Task 2 – You have to respond in essay form to a given point of view, argument, or problem. You can use a personal or semi-formal style of writing.
This component evaluates your use of spoken English. It has three sections – each of which is recorded in case re-evaluation is necessary in the future.
Section 1 – You will have to answer questions asked by an examiner about familiar topics such as home, family, work, studies, and interests. This section will take between four and five minutes.
Section 2 – You will have to speak for two minutes about a topic which will be given to you on a card. You will be given a minute to prepare. You will have to answer one or two questions asked by the examiner about the same topic.
Section 3 – You have to answer further questions on the same topic in section 2. The questions require you to respond by discussing more abstract ideas and issues. This section will take between four and five minutes.