What is the IELTS Exam Pattern?

The IELTS exam is an English language proficiency exam that is accepted worldwide by various universities and immigration authorities for work and study purposes. It is jointly hosted by the British Council and IDP Education. Students’ language capabilities are assessed and they are awarded band scores which correlate to a certain level of language proficiency. These scores range from 0 to 9. If you have been asked to take an IELTS exam for any of the above purposes, then you might probably also be overwhelmed by the large number of decisions that need to be made regarding your IELTS preparation. However, the first step towards achieving your IELTS goals always begins with understanding what to expect. In this article, we will take a look at the IELTS exam pattern

The IELTS exam consists of four sections, listening, reading, writing and speaking. The first three sections last for about 2 hours and 40, while the last speaking section lasts for about 11 to 13 minutes. The test format is the same in any country that offers the IELTS test, including Singapore. The IELTS testing format is as follows:


The Listening Component of the exam tests your listening comprehension skills. You will have to answer different types of questions based on four different recordings. The recordings include a variety of Native English accents as well a different type of situations.

The Listening test lasts for 30 to 40 minutes. It consists of 40 questions, each worth one mark each and there are 4 parts, having 10 questions each.

Reading  (Academic and General Training)

The Reading Component of the exam tests your reading skills. You will have to answer different question types based on different reading texts/passages. The texts are all authentic and taken from trustworthy sources. The texts encountered in the IELTS exams are chosen to reflect the type of content you might naturally come across as a student or resident of an English-speaking country

The reading task is one hour long. It has three parts for both the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training modules. There are a total of 40 questions, and you will have 20 min to answer each task with no extra time for transferring answers

Writing (Academic and General Training)

The IELTS writing test is usually considered the most difficult part of the IELTS test. It consists of two tasks. For the Academic Module, test takers have one hour to write a report for task 1 and an essay for task 2.  For the General Training Test, students have to write a letter of 150 words for task 1 and an essay of 250 words for task 2.


The IELTS Speaking test consists of three parts. and lasts for about 11 – 13 minutes. Just the candidate and the examiner are present during the interview. It’s important to note that there are no separate marks for each part, and you will be graded as a whole based on your performance for the entire test. The speaking test is the same for both the Academic Module and the General Training module. There is also no difference between the paper-based and the computer-based tests.

In Part 1 of the speaking test the examiner will ask questions based on personal information and everyday topics, such as your hometown, the area you live in, travelling

In Part 2 you will be given a task card, with a topic and questions related to the topic. You will be required to talk continuously for about 2 minutes on the topic mentioned in the cue card.

In Part 3 the examiner will take into account the topic in the previous Part 2 and you will be asked to answer more abstract and general questions related to that topic.

Now that you are aware of the IELTS test pattern, you can officially begin your exam preparation. The easiest way to do this is to take guidance from an experienced IELTS professional, who can guide on exactly what the IELTS examiners are looking out for during each part of the test.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.