What is IELTS? Curriculum and Exam Structure

10 mins

One of the most mainly accepted ways to prove English competence is through the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Businesses, colleges, professional organizations, and government bodies accept the qualification as proof of English fluency. But what exactly is the IELTS? And why is it so beneficial?

The aim of the IELTS is explained here, as well as who is qualified to take the qualification, the four portions, and the test and grading systems. We'll also go over various methods for preparing for the IELTS exam.

IELTS: What is it?

A standardized test of English language proficiency is called IELTS (International English Language Testing System). It's a global framework for non-native English speakers. Learners worldwide take the IELTS to apply for employment and universities and migrate to countries where English is the primary language.

In the 1980s, the British Council and Cambridge English Language Assessment developed the concept, and the certification quickly gained popularity. In 1989, the IELTS was introduced, and the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP) joined the founding organizations.

The test has been changed several times, most recently in 1995, 2001, and 2005. Nearly 3.5 million people from over 140 countries take the IELTS every year.

IELTS assesses more than simply a passive command of the English language. The framework is intended to allow students to demonstrate their ability to utilize English in various real-world contexts, such as higher education, job, or daily living.

General Training vs. Academic in the IELTS

Academic and General Training IELTS tests are available. Both exams' hearing and speaking sections are similar; however, the writing and reading components differ depending on the test. The IELTS Reading, Writing, and Listening sections are taken on the same day, with no breaks.

The CANDIDATE, on the other hand, can take the Speaking component a week before or after the other tests. Your testing center has this information exam accessible.

  • The Academic IELTS: For students who desire to study at university or in an academic setting, this course focuses on English hearing, reading, writing, and speaking. This test is taken by many students who want to study abroad in an English-speaking nation.
  • The IELTS General Training course: Also focuses on English hearing, reading, writing, and speaking, but it is more appropriate for students applying to study at the undergraduate level. This test is also taken by anyone looking for work or relocating to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom.
    Before you start studying for the IELTS, you need to determine which framework is most suited to your needs.

What is the IELTS' primary objective?

English abilities are in high demand all around the world. Furthermore, estimates imply that around 1.5 billion individuals worldwide are studying English. The IELTS allows students to demonstrate their English competence fairly and accurately.

According to the British Council, the IELTS is used by over 11,000 organizations worldwide. The qualification shows to colleges, companies, and professional groups worldwide that persons taking the tests have competence in English reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Who qualifies for the IELTS?

The IELTS framework's goal is to offer a fair and accurate evaluation for English learners worldwide. As a result, anybody above 16 can enroll for the IELTS exam.

The IELTS test must be taken in person, although several nations ceased testing during the COVID-19 epidemic. Instead, students might take an online IELTS Indicator exam. While not a substitute for the preliminary test, several universities recognized IELTS Indicator results.

The curriculum of the IELTS

Let us now concentrate our attention on the significant IELTS exam. The IELTS syllabus is divided into four portions encompassing reading, writing, listening, and speaking, providing a comprehensive assessment of the learner's English skills.

The test is unique each time, so it's impossible to predict which topics will be covered. However, common issues across the four segments include education, the environment, society, family, employment, sports, and cuisine.

Because the IELTS is a test of your entire English abilities, it's critical to be prepared to cope with themes you'd meet in everyday life. Let's examine each section individually:


This part is intended to assess your ability to interpret spoken English in various contexts. The listening part assesses your ability to follow ideas, topics, viewpoints, and facts in conversations. The exam consists of a collection of conversations with fluent English speakers that have been recorded. Then, depending on these recordings, you will respond to questions.


You'll have to read several texts for the IELTS reading part and answer questions about them. This part varies somewhat between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training examinations. You will exhibit several abilities on the IELTS reading test, including the ability to identify the significant ideas of a book, distinguish between details, and comprehend suggested meanings and perspectives.


The IELTS writing examination assesses your ability to put your thoughts on paper. Again, the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training differ slightly in this portion. Both, however, will need you to create a suitable answer, organize your thoughts, and employ a range of grammatical points.


The IELTS speaking component will assess your ability to communicate in English. You will have a dialogue with a trained examiner similar to a real-life conversation. You'll have to articulate and analyze your beliefs in this part while using suitable language and grammar to communicate ideas and opinions.

The IELTS exam structure

Understanding the IELTS exam style is crucial since it allows you to plan your approach for the day. Remember that the Academic and General Training examinations differ significantly; the hearing and speaking tests are identical, but the reading and writing tests are not.

Usually, you'll take the hearing, reading, and writing parts simultaneously on the same day. On the other hand, Candidates can take up the speaking component a week before or after the others.

The test has the following components and takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete:

  • IELTS Listening Exam: 30 minutes, 40 questions
  • Sixty minutes, 40 questions on the IELTS Reading Test (Academic or General Training).
  • IELTS Academic or General Training Writing Test - 60 minutes, two questions
  • IELTS Speaking Exam - 11 to 14 minutes, three sections

As previously said, each portion is divided into smaller sections that examine a variety of abilities.

Registration for IELTS

Throughout registration, keep your passport nearby as you'll need it to enter your passport number. In addition, you have to bring your passport to the exam. The IELTS registration process is simple:

  • Visit the official British Council registration website to get started.
  • Create an account with the British Council.
  • Find the closest testing site.
  • IELTS exam registration and payment are both done online.
  • Under-18s must have their parent or legal guardian schedule the exam on their behalf. When you have successfully registered for the IELTS exam, your test center will send you a written confirmation email with the date and time of your IELTS exam.

How does the IELTS scoring system work?

Each candidate's performance on the IELTS examinations is evaluated using an overall band score. The possible scores for each exam part are between 1 and 9, with entire and half bands available. You will subsequently be given an overall score based on the average of the four elements.

Below is a breakdown of how each area of the IELTS scores:


For each correct response, one mark is awarded on the 40 questions that make up the test. The IELTS band scale is then applied to the score out of 40.


The test is once again rated out of 40 and transformed into a whole or half band. The Academic and General Training assessments utilize the same scale, albeit the conversion of marks differs slightly.


This component has two tasks, and the IELTS evaluation criteria are utilized to obtain a band score. Each work is graded based on coherence, cohesiveness, vocabulary, grammatical range, and correctness.


Examiners employ assessment criteria to assign a band once again. Fluency and coherence, vocabulary, grammatical range and correctness, and pronunciation are graded.

IELTS: Should I take it?

When determining if the IELTS is suitable for you, several factors must be considered. Whether you must take the exam is the first consideration. The IELTS is a globally recognized credential required for admission to some colleges and some countries' immigration procedures.

You should also think about which exam is ideal for you. Those interested in applying to higher education or registering with a professional organization in another country might consider the IELTS Academic. The IELTS General test should be sufficient if you intend to move or get job experience in an English-speaking nation.

IELTS examination costs

The cost of taking the IELTS is another factor to consider when considering whether to take it. The rates might vary depending on where you are in the world. In the United Kingdom, for example, the test cost is between £170 and £195.

Other examples of how much the IELTS test costs are shown below. The range is generally determined by whether the test is for visas or immigration:

  • AUD 340 in Australia.
  • $309 to $319 CAN in Canada.
  • 13250 to 18500 INR in India.
  • 75,00 to 97,000 NGN in Nigeria.
  • 10680 to 13885 PHP in the Philippines.
  • $215 to USD 295 in The United States.

What exactly are IELTS Cancellation Fees?

  • If you withdraw from the IELTS exam five weeks before the test date, you will be given a refund minus a 25% administrative fee.
  • If you cancel your IELTS exam less than five weeks before the test date, you won't receive a refund.
  • If you don't show up for the exam, you won't get a refund. This is viewed as a cancellation as well.
  • Within five days of the test date, those who can present a medical certificate will be entitled to a refund minus the local administrative cost.

What exactly is the IELTS reschedule fee?

If you need to modify your test day, request a test day transfer five weeks before your previously scheduled test date after subtracting your cancellation/postponement cost.

Additionally, the replacement test date must fall within three months of the original test date. To change the exam date, candidates must pay an administrative fee of INR 3,300, including all taxes.

Scholarships for IELTS

Paying tuition in a foreign currency and high living costs are two of the most significant drawbacks of studying abroad. Many students are forced to settle for alternative possibilities since they cannot travel abroad for various reasons.

However, because there are so many IELTS Scholarships and student loans, students can finally achieve their dreams.

Scholarships and other scholarships and honors are frequently given to eligible students and are available on each college's official website. In addition, financial institutions provide education loans that students can use to fund their studies overseas.


The English as a Foreign Language Test is another frequent English competency test (TOEFL). TOEFL and IELTS have numerous similarities, including that both are internationally recognized and assess reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities.

The critical difference between the TOEFL and IELTS is that the latter does not primarily rely on American English.

On the IELTS, you will most likely hear a variety of English-speaking accents and will have to talk face-to-face with an examiner. Ultimately, the decision between IELTS and TOEFL is personal. It all depends on your chosen format and how you want to use the certification.

IELTS Practice

There are two ways to prepare for the IELTS: independent study and coaching sessions. Your level of comfort and language skill will influence the route you pick. If you speak English well, you don't need to take coaching sessions; you may study for the exam independently. You only need to decide when to start getting ready for the IELTS.

Additionally, self-study is a better option if money is a constraint. To study independently, however, you must access the most recent preparation tips for each IELTS exam part. On the other hand, coaching sessions are a great option if you don't have enough time and need professional guidance for exam preparation. Your attendance at lessons will become a habit, which will help mentors manage your time better.

How to Study for IELTS at Home

You might be wondering how to be ready if you want to take the IELTS exam soon. Fortunately, there are several accessible short tricks and approaches. Below are a few ways you might be eligible for IELTS:

  • Enroll in IELTS ExpertTrack. This course series serves as a comprehensive guide to IELTS preparation, offering tips, tactics, and practice for all four exam parts. The British Council produced it to give you an inside glimpse at the IELTS.
  • Take a look at these example test questions. The official IELTS website provides a variety of sample test questions that will help you determine your present level.
  • Record yourself. Recording and listening to your efforts while going through the speaking portion of the test might be beneficial. You may also utilize recordings to practice specific grammar and vocabulary areas.
  • Raising your IELTS speaking score. This course focuses on the skills and tactics required to do well on the IELTS speaking test.
  • Media may help you learn. Watching English-language television can help you improve your conversational English. Learn English Through TV Drama Series is a program that can help you enhance your abilities while watching a series.
  • Improve your pronunciation. Because there are so many English accents, learning to recognize different pronunciations while focusing on your talents will help you improve your English.


The IELTS is a valuable credential for many English language learners. Whether you wish to immigrate, study, or work abroad, it can show that you are fluent in all facets of the English language.

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