The IELTS exam is of two types- Academic and General. The General test is for candidates who want to migrate or work abroad. Academic tests are for candidates who want to pursue their higher education abroad. The IELTS Academic assessments are similar to General assessments. While the listening and speaking sections are the same for both the assessments, the reading and writing sections differ in the subject matter depending on the exam you chose.

In this article, you can find information related to the IELTS Academic test syllabus, the exam pattern, the fee, and the validity of the test. Read till the end to make sure you don’t miss out on any important information.

IELTS Academic Exam Pattern

The Academic test syllabus can be divided into four major sections consisting of listening, reading, writing, and speaking. While the listening, reading, and writing sections are completed within the same day, the speaking section can take place a week before or after the exam. The total duration for the examination is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

To understand the test pattern clearly, here is a breakdown of every exam.

1. Listening

The IELTS Academic listening assessment format is as follows. The paper is divided into four parts. Each part contains 10 questions related to the audio file played. In the first two parts, some situations discuss situations in a social context while the rest two parts discuss educational or training-related contexts. The duration of the test is 30 minutes, and an additional 10 minutes is allocated as transfer time.

The first part is a conversation between two speakers. The second part is a monologue, such as a speech. The third part is a conversation between two speakers in an academic context while the fourth part is a monologue on academics.

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Things to Keep in Mind

  • The audio files for all the parts are played just once.
  • The audio files may contain a range of accents such as British, American, Canadian, and New Zealand.
  • The task types can be chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/ map/ diagram labeling, form/ note/ table/ flow-chart/ summary completion, sentence completion.
  • Each question carries one mark.
  • The candidates are supposed to write their answers on the question paper and then transfer them to the answer sheet within the 10 minutes allotted to them in the end.
  • The answer sheets are marked by certified markers, followed by analysis under the Cambridge Assessment English.
  • The assessment from each part of the listening test is conversed through a score out of 40. These scores are further analyzed into a 9-band scale.
  • Spelling and grammar mistakes in the exam are penalized.

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2. Academic Reading

Similar to the listening test, the reading section consists of 40 questions. There are three reading passages provided that evaluate the reading skills of the candidate. It analyses skills such as reading for gist, reading for the main idea, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical arguments, and recognizing the author’s opinions, attitudes, purpose.

The three passages provided are taken from newspapers, journals, books, and magazines. They may be descriptive, analytical, discursive, or factual. The duration of the exam is 60 minutes.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • At least one of the three passages contain a logical argument.
  • The passages may contain non-verbal cues such as diagrams, images, or graphs.
  • There are 40 questions in the section and each question carries one mark.
  • The candidates are supposed to write their answers on the question paper and then transfer the answers in the answer sheet within the allotted time. There is no extra transfer time given.
  • The questions given for the reading passages may vary. These include multiple-choice questions, identifying information, matching information, identifying the writer’s view or opinions, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, and short answer completion.
  • The Academic reading assessment is marked by certified markers, followed by analysis through Cambridge Assessment English.

Academic Writing

The Academic writing exam includes topics of general interests, suitable for candidates applying for Undergraduate and Masters programs, or seeking professional registration.

There are two writing tasks, both of which must be completed to qualify the exam.

Academic Writing Task 1

The candidates are required to describe, summarise, or explain some visual information in their own words. The information may be in the form of diagrams, graphs, tables, or charts. The task might also include describing certain processes of the information provided or describing objects. The task duration is 20 minutes and the candidates are supposed to write about 150 words within the duration.

Academic Writing Task 2

The candidates are supposed to write an essay responding to a point of view, argument, or problem. The duration of the test is 40 minutes within which the candidates have to write 250 words.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • The answers should be written using formal language.
  • The answers should be written in the form of essays using paragraphs. The answers should not be in the form of bullet points or notes.
  • The candidates may write notes or points on the question paper but the final answers should be in the answer sheets only. While presenting to the examiner, notes written on the question paper should not be used.
  • The task responses are assessed based on the coherence and cohesion of the answers, lexical resources, and grammatical range and accuracy, depending on the level of both the tasks.
  • The answers should be connected to the topic. If the answers go off-topic, there will be a penalty.
  • In the case of plagiarism, there will be severe penalties.
  • The answers should be based on the specific topics provided and not generalized.
  • The answers are analyzed by IELTS examiners.

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IELTS Academic Speaking

The speaking section of the test assesses the spoken English of the student. The exam is divided into three parts. The total duration ranges from 11-15 minutes.

The exam includes an interview of the candidate by the examiner.

  • For the first part of the test, the candidate is supposed to speak about themselves and their personal lives such as their family, educational background, interests, and professional achievements.
  • In the second part, the candidate will be provided a card with a topic that they would have to speak on for two minutes. The candidates get a minute to prepare for the same. Once they have finished speaking, the candidates would have to answer a question or two by the examiner on the topic.
  • In the third part of the test, the topic from the second part is further explored. The candidate would be given the space to discuss the issues and similar ideas. This may take 5 minutes of the total duration.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Part 1 of the exam lasts for 4-5 minutes. It is meant to assess the candidate’s ability to communicate about personal information and opinions.
  • Part 2 of the test takes about 3-4 minutes. The candidate’s ability to speak on a given topic, structure a conversation, and the language is assessed in this part.
  • Part 3 of the test is used by the examiner to test the candidate’s ability to express and justify opinions, and their manner of speculating on different issues.
  • The test is marked by the IELTS examiners.
  • The speaking test is recorded.
  • The test focuses on the candidate’s spoken English on issues such as fluency, grammar, pronunciation, coherence, and vocabulary.

IELTS Academic Fees and IELTS Academic Validity

The IELTS exam fee for the General and Academic exam is the same, that is, INR 14,000. The same fee is applicable for a computer-based as well.

The IELTS Academic and General test scores are valid for 2 years from the date of receiving the scores. You can read more about test validity here.


Now that you are familiar with the IELTS Academic exam syllabus, you should be able to focus on brushing up your skills for the IELTS exam preparation. The Academic syllabus for the exam is similar to that of a General exam syllabus.

You can find some help in the form of an IELTS Academic guide via our mentors who conduct one-on-one sessions. To speed up on your IELTS exam preparation for better results, click here.

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