International English Language Testing System [IELTS Review]

International English Language Testing System [IELTS Review]

Understanding the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one proven step to taking a successful exam, and also securing the higher band score you need for jobs, school admission and other career purposes abroad.

IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, stands as a cornerstone in assessing English language proficiency on a global scale. Recognized and accepted by educational institutions, employers, and immigration authorities worldwide, IELTS plays a pivotal role in evaluating an individual’s ability to communicate effectively in English. The test is designed to measure proficiency across four key language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

You can also check out these related guides on IELTS:

  1. IELTS For Jobs Abroad: Relocating To 10 Best Countries
  2. 17 Countries to Get a Job Without IELTS | Visa With Work Permit
  3. European Countries that Do Not Require IELTS for Jobs

Proceeding with this post, you learn everything you need to know about the various IELTS options, scoring systems and resources you need for registration and IELTS examination. To proceed, let us explore the type of IELTS.

Table of Contents

Two Main Types of IELTS Tests: Academic and General Training:

  1. Academic IELTS:
    • Primarily intended for individuals seeking admission to higher education institutions or professional registration.
    • Academic IELTS assesses a test-taker’s ability to handle academic material, such as complex texts and scholarly articles.
  2. General Training IELTS:
    • Geared towards those aiming for migration to English-speaking countries, as well as individuals seeking employment or training in a non-academic setting.
    • General Training IELTS evaluates practical, everyday language skills necessary for social and workplace environments.

Understanding the distinction between Academic and General Training International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is crucial for test-takers, as it allows them to align their preparation with the specific requirements of their academic or professional goals. Whether pursuing higher education, immigration, or career advancement, IELTS stands as a reliable and widely acknowledged measure of English language proficiency.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Test Format

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is divided into four sections, each designed to assess specific language skills. These sections are Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each:

1. Listening Section:

  • Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Types of Questions:
    • Multiple-choice questions
    • Matching information
    • Diagram labeling
    • Form completion
    • Note completion
  • Description: The Listening section consists of four recorded audio segments, each with a set of questions. Test-takers listen to the recordings and answer questions based on the information they hear.

2. Reading Section:

  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Types of Questions:
    • Multiple-choice questions
    • Matching information
    • True/False/Not Given
    • Matching headings
    • Sentence completion
  • Description: The Reading section evaluates the ability to understand and interpret written information. There are three passages of increasing complexity, and test-takers answer questions based on the content of these passages.

3. Writing Section:

  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Tasks:
    • Task 1 (Academic): Describe a graph, table, chart, or diagram.
    • Task 1 (General Training): Write a letter based on a given situation.
    • Task 2 (Both): Write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem.
  • Description: The Writing section assesses the ability to articulate ideas coherently and present information in a written form. Task 2 is more complex and carries more weight in the scoring.

4. Speaking Section:

  • Duration: 11-14 minutes
  • Sections:
    • Part 1: Introduction and Interview (4-5 minutes)
    • Part 2: Long Turn (3-4 minutes)
    • Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)
  • Description: The Speaking section evaluates the ability to communicate verbally in English. It is a face-to-face interview with an examiner. Part 1 involves general questions about oneself, Part 2 requires speaking on a given topic, and Part 3 involves a more in-depth discussion related to the Part 2 topic.


  • The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are completed in one sitting without breaks.
  • The Speaking section may be scheduled on the same day or within a week before or after the other sections.

Understanding the structure and question types in each section is crucial for effective preparation. Practice tests and familiarity with the test format can significantly contribute to success in the IELTS examination.

Listening Section Breakdown:

The Listening section of the IELTS test is designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to understand spoken English in various contexts. It consists of four recorded audio segments, each with a set of questions. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements:

1. Types of Audio Recordings:

  • Conversation in an everyday context: This could involve discussions between friends, family members, or colleagues.
  • Monologue in a social context: A single speaker providing information in a social setting, such as a speech or a presentation.
  • Conversation in an educational or training context: Dialogues or discussions in an academic or professional setting.
  • Monologue on an academic subject: A single speaker providing information on a specific academic topic.

2. Question Formats:

  • Multiple-choice questions: Test-takers choose the correct answer from a list of options.
  • Matching questions: Matching information from the audio to a set of options or completing a table or diagram.
  • Form completion: Filling in blanks in a form based on the information heard.
  • Note completion: Completing sentences or notes based on the audio content.

3. Strategies for Success:

  • Practice Regularly: Regularly expose yourself to a variety of English accents, speeds, and contexts by listening to podcasts, news broadcasts, and recordings in different accents.
  • Develop Predictive Skills: Anticipate the kind of information you might hear based on the context. This can help you stay focused and understand the main ideas.
  • Focus on Keywords: Pay attention to keywords in both the questions and the audio. These keywords can guide you to the relevant information.
  • Underline Key Information: During the 30 seconds provided before each section, quickly read the questions and underline key information. This helps in focusing on what to listen for.
  • Manage Your Time: Be mindful of the time allocated for each section. If you miss an answer, quickly move on to the next one. Don’t let a missed answer affect your performance in subsequent questions.
  • Use Capitalization: Pay attention to capitalization in the instructions and your answers. Some questions may require specific details, such as names or places, to be written in capital letters.

Tips to Improve Listening Skills:

  • Listen to Various Accents: Familiarize yourself with different English accents, including British, American, Australian, and Canadian accents.
  • Watch English Movies and TV Shows: Watching movies or TV shows in English can expose you to conversational English, slang, and various accents.
  • Use Listening Resources: Utilize online platforms that offer practice listening tests or materials designed to enhance listening skills.
  • Practice with a Timer: Simulate test conditions by practicing listening exercises with a timer. This helps improve your ability to manage time effectively during the actual test.
  • Take Notes Effectively: Practice taking concise notes while listening to recordings. This skill can be valuable in capturing key details.

Remember, consistent practice and exposure to diverse listening materials are essential for success in the Listening section of the IELTS test. Incorporate these strategies and tips into your preparation routine to enhance your listening skills and boost your confidence on test day.

Writing Section Overview:

The Writing section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test consists of two tasks for both Academic and General Training modules. Let’s break down each task, followed by tips on structuring essays, developing ideas, and managing time effectively.

1. Task 1: (Academic)

  • Description: In the Academic module, Task 1 requires candidates to describe visual information presented in the form of a graph, table, chart, or diagram. The purpose is to assess the ability to interpret and present data in a written form.
  • Tips:
    • Begin by analyzing the visual information and identifying key trends or patterns.
    • Focus on describing the main features and making comparisons where relevant.
    • Use a range of vocabulary to express variations and trends accurately.

Task 1: (General Training)

  • Description: In the General Training module, Task 1 involves writing a letter based on a given situation. The purpose is to assess the ability to communicate in a practical, everyday context.
  • Tips:
    • Identify the purpose and audience of the letter.
    • Follow the appropriate letter-writing conventions (formal, semi-formal, or informal) based on the context.
    • Address all components of the task, such as opening and closing statements, and any specific points mentioned.

2. Task 2: (Both Academic and General Training)

  • Description: Task 2 requires candidates to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem. The purpose is to assess the ability to present and support opinions, arguments, and ideas in a coherent manner.
  • Tips:
    • Clearly state your position in the introduction and provide a roadmap for the essay.
    • Develop main ideas in separate paragraphs, ensuring each paragraph has a clear focus.
    • Support your ideas with relevant examples and details.
    • Maintain coherence and cohesion by using linking words and phrases.
    • Conclude by summarizing key points and restating your position.

Tips on Structuring Essays, Developing Ideas, and Managing Time:

  1. Understand the Task:
    • Carefully read and understand the task requirements for each essay. Ensure that you address all components mentioned in the prompt.
  2. Plan Your Response:
    • Take a few minutes to brainstorm and outline your ideas before starting to write. This helps in organizing your thoughts and structuring your essay effectively.
  3. Introduction:
    • Craft a concise introduction that introduces the main topic and clearly states your position or purpose.
  4. Body Paragraphs:
    • Dedicate separate paragraphs to each main idea. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence and provide supporting details or examples.
    • Ensure a logical flow between paragraphs.
  5. Vocabulary and Grammar:
    • Use a varied and appropriate range of vocabulary. Avoid repetitive language and demonstrate your ability to express ideas precisely.
    • Pay attention to grammar and sentence structure. Aim for clarity and accuracy.
  6. Conclusion:
    • Summarize key points in the conclusion and restate your position or main argument.
    • Avoid introducing new ideas in the conclusion.
  7. Time Management:
    • Allocate your time wisely between Task 1 and Task 2. Task 2 carries more weight, so plan accordingly.
    • Ensure you have enough time to review and make any necessary corrections.
  8. Practice Regularly:
    • Practice writing essays on a variety of topics to improve your proficiency and develop your own writing style.

Remember, effective time management, clear organization, and thoughtful development of ideas are crucial for success in the Writing section of the IELTS test. Consistent practice and adherence to the specific requirements of each task will contribute to better performance on test day.

Speaking Section Overview:

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Speaking section is a face-to-face interview with an examiner, designed to assess a candidate’s ability to communicate verbally in English. The section is divided into three parts: Introduction and Interview, Long Turn, and Discussion.

1. Introduction and Interview (Part 1):

  • Duration: 4-5 minutes
  • Description: The examiner introduces themselves, checks the candidate’s identity, and engages in a brief warm-up conversation. This part typically involves questions about familiar topics such as hobbies, studies, work, or daily life.
  • Advice:
    • Be prepared to discuss common personal topics.
    • Respond naturally, providing detailed answers where possible.
    • Use this part to establish a comfortable rapport with the examiner.

2. Long Turn (Part 2):

  • Duration: 3-4 minutes
  • Description: Candidates receive a task card with a specific topic and prompts. They have one minute to prepare notes and then speak for 1-2 minutes on the topic. Afterward, the examiner may ask one or two follow-up questions.
  • Advice:
    • Use the one-minute preparation time wisely to jot down key points.
    • Speak fluently and coherently, addressing all aspects of the task.
    • Use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures to express ideas.

3. Discussion (Part 3):

  • Duration: 4-5 minutes
  • Description: The examiner leads a more in-depth discussion on the topic introduced in Part 2. This part explores the candidate’s ability to engage in extended discourse, express opinions, and provide detailed responses.
  • Advice:
    • Develop responses with supporting details and examples.
    • Express opinions clearly, but also consider alternative perspectives.
    • Maintain fluency and coherence during more complex discussions.

Advice on Fluency, Coherence, Pronunciation, and Vocabulary:

  1. Fluency:
    • Speak at a natural pace, avoiding rushed or hesitant speech.
    • Use filler words (such as “well,” “you know”) sparingly.
    • Practice speaking on various topics to enhance overall fluency.
  2. Coherence:
    • Organize your responses logically with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
    • Use cohesive devices (linking words and phrases) to connect ideas within sentences and paragraphs.
    • Avoid abrupt transitions between ideas.
  3. Pronunciation:
    • Pronounce words clearly and accurately.
    • Pay attention to word stress and intonation.
    • Practice pronunciation by listening to native speakers and mimicking their speech patterns.
  4. Vocabulary:
    • Demonstrate a range of vocabulary to express ideas precisely.
    • Use synonyms and varied language to avoid repetition.
    • Practice incorporating academic and topic-specific vocabulary.

Additional Tips:

  • Eye Contact and Body Language:
    • Maintain eye contact with the examiner.
    • Use appropriate gestures and body language to enhance communication.
  • Be Responsive:
    • Listen carefully to the examiner’s questions and respond appropriately.
    • If uncertain about a question, seek clarification rather than providing an unclear answer.
  • Expand on Responses:
    • Whenever possible, elaborate on your responses with additional information.
    • Provide examples and anecdotes to support your points.
  • Stay Calm and Confident:
    • Take a deep breath if you feel nervous.
    • Remember that the examiner is there to assess your English proficiency, not to intimidate you.

Practicing speaking English regularly, engaging in mock interviews, and receiving feedback from native speakers or language tutors can significantly contribute to improvement in the Speaking section. Strive for clear, confident communication across all three parts of the interview.

IELTS Scoring System:

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band representing a level of proficiency in English. The four individual band scores correspond to the four test sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Additionally, there is an overall band score that is an average of the four individual scores.

1. Individual Band Scores:

  • Each of the four sections (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) is scored on a scale from 0 to 9.
  • The band scores reflect a test-taker’s ability in each specific skill area.

2. Overall Band Score:

  • The overall band score is the average of the four individual band scores.
  • It is rounded to the nearest half or whole band.

Scoring Interpretation:

1. Universities:
  • Academic IELTS: Many universities around the world use IELTS scores as part of their admission criteria for international students.
  • Minimum Requirements: Universities often set minimum IELTS score requirements for entry into specific programs.
  • Varied Requirements: Different programs within a university may have different IELTS score requirements, depending on the language demands of the course.
2. Employers:
  • Professional Recognition: Some employers, especially those in English-speaking countries, may consider IELTS scores as part of the hiring process.
  • Language Proficiency: Employers may use IELTS scores to assess a candidate’s English language proficiency, particularly in roles requiring effective communication skills.
3. Immigration Authorities:
  • General Training IELTS: Immigration authorities often require IELTS scores for visa applications, particularly for General Training IELTS.
  • Minimum Thresholds: Different countries may have specific IELTS score requirements for visa categories, with minimum thresholds for each section and overall.
4. Score Comparison:
  • Comparison Across Tests: IELTS scores are comparable across different test administrations, ensuring consistency.
  • CEFR Alignment: IELTS scores are mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels, providing a broader understanding of language proficiency.
5. Interpretation of Band Scores:
  • Band 9 (Expert User): Fully operational command of the language.
  • Band 8 (Very Good User): Very effective command with occasional inaccuracies.
  • Band 7 (Good User): Good operational command with occasional inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
  • Band 6 (Competent User): Effective command in familiar situations but with frequent misunderstandings.
  • Band 5 (Modest User): Partial command with many errors and misunderstandings.
  • Band 4 (Limited User): Basic competence, likely to make many mistakes.
  • Band 3 (Extremely Limited User): Conveys and understands only general meaning.
  • Band 2 (Intermittent User): Limited effectiveness, frequent breakdowns.
  • Band 1 (Non-User): Essentially non-existent command.

Understanding the specific score requirements for your intended purpose (such as university admission, employment, or immigration) is crucial. It’s advisable to check the score prerequisites set by the respective institutions or authorities and aim to meet or exceed those requirements.

IELTS Preparation Tips:

Getting ready for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test requires a strategic and consistent approach. Here are some general tips to help you maximize your preparation and increase your chances of success:

1. Understand the Test Format:

  • Familiarize yourself with the format of each section (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) and the types of questions you’ll encounter.

2. Create a Study Schedule:

  • Develop a realistic study schedule that covers all four sections of the test. Allocate specific time slots for each skill area, ensuring a balanced approach to preparation.

3. Practice Regularly:

  • Consistency is key. Practice all sections of the test regularly to build your skills and confidence. Aim for daily or weekly practice sessions.

4. Take Practice Tests:

  • Regularly take full-length practice tests under simulated exam conditions. This helps you get used to the time constraints and enhances your test-taking endurance.

5. Identify Weaknesses:

  • Analyze your performance in practice tests to identify specific areas of weakness. Focus on improving these areas through targeted practice.

6. Enhance Time Management:

  • Develop effective time management skills for each section. Practice allocating your time wisely during the test to ensure you can complete all questions.

7. Improve Reading Skills:

  • Develop efficient reading strategies for the Reading section. Practice skimming and scanning to quickly locate information within passages.

8. Enhance Vocabulary:

  • Build and expand your vocabulary. Focus on academic and topic-specific words relevant to the IELTS test. Use flashcards, vocabulary lists, and context-based learning.

9. Work on Writing Skills:

  • Practice writing essays and reports regularly. Pay attention to the organization, coherence, and clarity of your writing. Seek feedback to identify areas for improvement.

10. Develop Listening Skills:

  • Listen to a variety of English materials, such as podcasts, lectures, and news broadcasts. Train your ears to understand different accents and practice note-taking.

11. Practice Speaking English:

  • Engage in regular spoken English practice. Speak with native speakers, language exchange partners, or language tutors to improve fluency and pronunciation.

12. Simulate Speaking Tests:

  • Practice the Speaking section with a partner or record yourself responding to sample questions. Focus on clarity, coherence, and effective communication.

13. Seek Feedback:

  • Share your practice essays, reports, and speaking responses with teachers, tutors, or language exchange partners. Constructive feedback can provide valuable insights.

14. Familiarize Yourself with Test Conditions:

  • Simulate exam conditions during your practice sessions. This includes using a timer, sitting in a quiet environment, and avoiding distractions.

15. Stay Calm and Confident:

  • Manage test anxiety by adopting relaxation techniques and maintaining a positive mindset. Confidence plays a significant role in test success.

16. Review Test Strategies:

  • Familiarize yourself with test strategies for each section, including effective guessing techniques and approaches to complex questions.

17. Stay Updated:

  • Keep yourself informed about any updates or changes to the IELTS test. Check the official IELTS website for the latest information.

Take note: Preparation is a gradual process, and improvement comes with consistent effort and dedication. Use a variety of resources, seek support when needed, and stay focused on your goals throughout your IELTS preparation journey.

FAQ on International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Here are some of the questions scholars and skilled workers are asking about the English Language Testing System IELTS, and some of the things you may need to know as you strive for an honorable career abroad.

Can Academic IELTS be used for work?

Yes, Academic IELTS can be beneficial for individuals seeking employment in specific professional fields. While Academic IELTS is primarily designed for those pursuing higher education, it is also recognized and accepted by various professional bodies, immigration authorities, and government agencies. This recognition makes Academic IELTS a relevant and valuable qualification for certain job requirements.

Who should take Academic IELTS for work purposes?

Here are the category of candidates who will mostly benefit from taking International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic):

  1. Professionals in Specialized Fields:
    • Academic IELTS may be suitable for individuals working in professions that demand a higher level of language proficiency, such as doctors, engineers, or researchers.
  2. International Job Opportunities:
    • Individuals seeking employment in English-speaking countries may find Academic IELTS beneficial, especially if their desired positions involve complex communication and interaction at a professional level.

Winning Resources for English Language Testing System

To take IELTS on a single sitting and score higher, you may not just need the website for registration. There are numerous resources available to aid in IELTS preparation. Here are recommendations across various formats:


  1. “Cambridge IELTS Series” by Cambridge University Press:
    • This series includes authentic IELTS practice tests with answers. It’s an excellent resource for getting a feel of the actual exam.
  2. “Official IELTS Practice Materials” by Cambridge University Press:
    • These materials are produced by the IELTS partners and provide additional practice tests, sample answers, and examiner comments.
  3. “Barron’s IELTS Superpack” by Lin Lougheed:
    • This comprehensive pack includes books for all four sections of the IELTS test, offering practice tests, strategies, and skill-building exercises.
  4. “Collins Vocabulary for IELTS” by Anneli Williams:
    • Focuses on enhancing vocabulary specifically for the IELTS exam. It includes exercises and practice tests.

Online Courses:

  1. IELTS Liz (
    • Liz is an experienced IELTS teacher, and her website offers free tips, practice exercises, and video lessons.
  2. IELTS Simon (
    • Simon provides valuable insights and strategies for IELTS preparation through his video lessons, blog, and practice materials.
  3. IELTS Ryan (
    • Ryan’s website offers free video lessons and tips for IELTS preparation, covering all sections of the test.
  4. IELTS Liz on YouTube:
    • Liz’s YouTube channel features video lessons on various aspects of the IELTS test, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening.

Mobile Apps:

  1. IELTS Liz App:
    • Liz offers a mobile app with practice materials, lessons, and tips for all sections of the IELTS test.
  2. IELTS Ryan App:
    • Ryan’s app provides access to video lessons, practice tests, and study resources for IELTS preparation.

Additional Resources:

  1. British Council’s IELTS Website (
    • The official IELTS website offers a variety of free resources, including sample test questions, practice tests, and preparation tips.
  2. Road to IELTS (
    • This online preparation course, offered by the British Council, provides interactive activities, practice tests, and advice for all IELTS test sections.
  3. IELTS Podcast by Ben Worthington:
    • Ben’s IELTS podcast covers a range of topics related to the IELTS test, offering insights and strategies for effective preparation.
  4. Magoosh IELTS Blog (
    • Magoosh’s blog includes a wealth of free articles, tips, and practice materials for IELTS preparation.

It is also important to complement your chosen resources with consistent practice and regular self-assessment. Utilize a mix of materials to cover all aspects of the test and adapt your study plan to your specific needs and weaknesses.

Final Thoughts on International English Language Testing System

In conclusion, preparing for the IELTS test requires a multifaceted approach that incorporates a variety of resources and strategies. From comprehensive books that provide authentic practice tests to online platforms offering interactive lessons and tips, a diverse range of materials is available to cater to different learning styles.

Additionally, mobile apps and dedicated websites from reputable sources like the British Council and individual educators offer flexibility for on-the-go learning. Crucial to success is the consistent and structured practice of all four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Regular self-assessment, feedback from teachers or peers, and simulated exam conditions help build both proficiency and confidence.

Moreover, understanding the scoring system and interpreting scores in the context of academic, professional, or immigration requirements is essential for setting realistic goals and expectations.

Ultimately, a combination of quality resources, diligent practice, and a positive mindset will empower candidates to navigate the challenges of the International English Language Testing System test successfully.

Whether aiming for admission to universities, pursuing career opportunities, or embarking on international travel, a well-rounded and disciplined approach to IELTS preparation can pave the way for achieving desired band scores and unlocking future opportunities.

Scroll to Top