The IELTS test is used to assess the abilities of the student like listening, reading, writing and speaking in less than three hours of time. It is a widely accepted test and has two types one is the IELTS Academic and the other is IELTS General training. The listening and speaking sections of both the tests are the same but the subject matter of the reading and writing components differ depending on the type of test you appear for. The listening reading and writing are completed on the same day without any breaks in between them. However, the speaking component can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests which will be informed to you by your test center. The duration of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The test format of all the four sections is described as below.
The listening section is for 30 minutes and you have to listen to four recordings of native English speakers after which you need to write your answers to a series of questions. In the first recording, you have to listen to a conversation between two people which is set in an everyday social context. In the second one, there will be a monologue which will be set in an everyday social context like a speech about local facilities. The third recording will be a conversation between up to four people in a training or educational contexts like maybe a tutor and a student discussing an assignment. In the fourth recording, you have to listen to a monologue which will be given on an academic subject like a university lecture.
The evaluators look for the evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and the detailed information along with the attitudes and opinions of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and how well can you follow the development of ideas.
The reading section consists of 60 minutes and has 40 questions which test a wide range of reading skills. You will be expected to read for gist, for main ideas, for details, for skimming, understanding the logical argument and understanding the opinion, attitude, and purpose of the writer.
In the IELTS Academic test of IELTS there will be three long texts which will have descriptive, factual discursive and analytical texts. These would be taken from books, magazines, journals and newspapers. The IELTS General Training test has extracts from books, newspapers, magazines, notices, company handbooks, advertisements, and guidelines. These are the materials which you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English speaking environment.
The writing section is for 60 minutes and the topics for the same of general interest and suitable for the test takers entering the undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking the professional registration.
IELTS Academic Test:
In the first task you will be given a graph, chart, table or diagram and you will be asked to describe, explain or summarize the information in your own words. You might have to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process or describe an event. In the second task, you will be asked to write an essay responding to a point of view, an argument or a problem. Both the responses should be in a formal style.
IELTS General Training:
In the first task you will be given a situation and you will have to write a letter requesting the information or explaining the situation. The letter can be personal, formal or semi-formal in style. In the second task you will have to write an essay responding to a point of view, problem or an argument. The essay can be personal.
The speaking section is of 11-14 minutes and it is used to assess the use of spoken English. In the first part, the examiner will ask you the general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics such as family, work, home, studies and other interests. This lasts for 4 to 5 minutes. In the second part, you are given a card which asks you to talk about a given topic. You have to speak for two minutes before which you are given a one minute time to prepare. You are then asked one or two questions on the same topic. The third part includes further questions about the topic in part 2 in which you get to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This again lasts for four to five minutes.