Houston College of Education Information and Career Counselling

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardized test of language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assesment IELTS is the world’s most popular high-stakes English language test.

It is the test that opens doors to a world of academic and professional opportunity in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the US and many other places around the world where English is the language in the workplace or the classroom.

It is the test for study − thousands of the world’s most reputable universities and colleges will accept your IELTS results as evidence of your English language proficiency. IELTS assesses your proficiency in English language and is graded on a scale of 1 – 9.

IELTS for Studies

IELTS is the most popular language assessment exams and trusted by more than 11,000 institutions worldwide.

IELTS for Migration

Language assessment such as IELTS can be taken to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

IELTS for Work

Organizations around the world rely on language assessment such as IELTS to select the right people.

IELTS test types

IELTS Academic

For the students who are wanting to study in an English language based institution or university. This test measures your capability to study in English, and features the vocabularies familiar to an academic scenario.

IELTS General Training

For those who want to study in English below degree level or want to migrate to countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the UK. This test features everyday language skills required in social or workplace scenarios.

( Both versions provide a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. )

IELTS characteristics

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user. The Academic version is for test takers who want to study at tertiary level in an English-speaking country or seek professional registration. The General Training version is for test takers who want to work, train, study at a secondary school or migrate to an English-speaking country.

The difference between the Academic and General Training versions is the content, context and purpose of the tasks. All other features, such as timing allocation, length of written responses and reporting of scores, are the same.

  • IELTS tests the ability to listen, read, write and speak in English.

  • The speaking module is a key component of IELTS. It is conducted in the form of a one-to-one interview with an examiner. The examiner assesses the test taker as he or she is speaking. The speaking session is also recorded for monitoring and for re-marking in case of an appeal against the score given.

  • IELTS is developed by experts at Cambridge English Language Assesment with input from item writers from around the world. Teams are located in the USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other English-speaking nations.

  • Band scores are used for each language sub-skill (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). The Band Scale ranges from 0 (“Did not attempt the test”) to 9 (“Expert User”).

IELTS Exam Format

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Listening (30 minutes)

In this assessment, candidates will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and will have to write answers to the questions.

Recording 1 — a conversation between two people in everyday context.
Recording 2 — a monologue set in a everyday social context.
Recording 3 — a conversation between 4 people set in an educational or training context.
Recording 4 — a monologue related to academic context.

Timing: 30 minutes

Number of Questions: 40

Task 1 - Multiple Choice Questions
Task 2 - Matching
Task 3 - Plan, Map, Diagram Labelling
Task 4 - Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion
Task 5 - Sentence completion
Task 6 - Short answer questions

Reading (60 minutes)

Paper Format: Three reading passages with a variety of questions using number of task types.
Timing: 60 minutes
Number of Questions: 40

Task 1 - Multiple choice
Task 2 - Identifying information
Task 3 - Identifying writer's views/claims
Task 4 - Matching information
Task 5 - Matching headings
Task 6 - Matching features
Task 7 - Matching Sentence Endings
Task 8 - Sentence Completion
Task 9 - Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion
Task 10 - Diagram label completion
Task 11 - Short answer questions

Writing (60 minutes)

Paper format: There are two writing tasks and both must be completed.
Timing: 60 minutes
Number of Questions: 2

Task 1 - Describing features, charts, diagrams, facts and figures on a related topic.
Task 2 - Write about an academic or semi formal style.

Speaking (11 - 14 minutes)

Part 1 - general questions about yourself, including other general questions such as friends, families, work and interests.

Part 2 - Candidate will be given a card to choose from and can prepare for 2 minutes before the examiner asks questions related to the topic.

Part 3 - Candidate will be asked further questions related to the card chosen and will give opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.


The international English Language Testing System (IELTS™) belongs to the British Council, IELTS Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 84 008 664 766), (wholly owned by IDP Education Ltd) and Cambridge Assessment English (Part of the University of Cambridge). All the contents in this website are for educational purposes for our students.
All copyright of the IELTS exam format, types, etc mentioned above belongs to the IELTS™.

For the latest information on IELTS, please visit the official website: https://ielts.org/