The IELTS Test is in high demand in today’s times as more and more people are setting up their careers abroad. This IELTS Test not only provides you with career opportunities but gives you self assurance along the way. Before you apply for the IELTS general test, it’s always good to look at the IELTS general format so you can prepare beforehand.

IELTS is divided into four major sectors which are Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Both the IELTS general and IELTS academic tests are assessed in the same way exactly.

Structure of the IELTS Reading Test

  • The number of sections– There are three large chunks of text in total. Section 1 consists of 2-3 shorter texts focusing on everyday topics. You will be asked to identify crucial information from newspapers, notices, or advertisements. Section 2 is based on work-related topics such as job listings, contracts, job requirements, etc. Section 3 is focused on the topic of general interest. In this part, the text will be lengthy and intricate.
  • Time– There will be 60 minutes to answer 40 questions. So reading texts quickly and managing time is the key.
  • Assessment criteria– It will be based on how well you can grasp the general idea behind the text, can identify the author’s purpose, tone, views, or attitude.
  • Type of questions– Matching headings/features, completing sentences, diagram labeling, multiple-choice questions.

Structure of the IELTS Writing Test

  • Writing tasks– There are two types of writing tasks. Task 1 involves you writing a letter usually responding to the given situation. Task 2 deals with asking your views, judgments on a specific issue.
  • Time & word limit– For Task 1, you have 20 minutes to write at least 150 words whereas, for Task 2, you have 40 minutes to write at least 250 words.
  • Assessment criteria– You will be judged on coherence, grammatically accuracy, range of vocabulary, and how well you form your arguments or fulfill the purpose of texts.
  • Task types–  For task 1, it is a type of situation such as writing to a college about the scarcity of water. For task 2, it is a letter asking for facts or opinions.

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Composition of IELTS Speaking Test

  • Sections– There are three parts involved in this test. This test has an interviewer sitting across you. The first part is where the candidate gives his introduction. You will be asked generic questions such as hobbies, background, etc. The second part is where you will be given a cue card with a mentioned topic and you will have to form your response around the given topic. The third part is a discussion in which the interviewer asks you further questions from the topic and allows you to answer in more detail.
  • Time– Part 1 is 4-5 minutes long.

Part 2 is 3-4 minutes long.

Part 3 is 4-5 minutes long.

  • Criteria– The examiner criticizes you on how well you can express your ideas at a defined time, speaking smoothly, clear pronunciation, choosing words wisely, and adding suitable details.

Format of IELTS Listening Test

  • Sections– You will be given four recordings and asked to answer the questions. Recording 1 showcases a conversation between two people talking in a normal social setting for example- talking about travel plans. Recording 2 describes a scenario where one person talks in a normal social setting for example- the job of a counselor. Recording 3 highlights two speakers conversing in an educational and training session. Lastly, Recording 4 has one person speaking on an academic subject.
  • Time– You will have 40 minutes to answer 40 questions.
  • Task types– Map labeling, matching questions, multiple-choice questions, short answers.
  • Marking– You will be judged on how well you understand the main idea behind the text, follow a conversation between two people, descriptions/explanations of objects.

How are Your Scores Marked? What’s the Average Bandscale?

The IELTS General Test is marked on a band scale numbered from 0 to 9. The highest you can get is a 9 which means you have achieved a complete understanding of  the English language. An example of how the scores are calculated: Reading 5.8+ Writing 6.0 + Speaking 7+ Listening 6.5 = 25.3/4= 6.3. The average score lies somewhere between 5.5- 7.5 on a band scale. As far as results are concerned, you can see the results after 13 days after your exam.


Now that you have gained a deeper understanding of how the IELTS general format test is conducted, you can prepare yourself further. You need to strengthen your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. For that, you need to take online practice tests available or you can take paid online sessions where you are accompanied by trained tutors if you aim at achieving a decent score on your IELTS test. Best of luck!

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