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IELTS Academic

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The IELTS Academic test is designed to assess applicants' English-language skills, especially those skills that are relevant when studying at undergraduate or postgraduate levels. The test features vocabulary that is common within an academic setting and if you represent a professional association you may also want to set entry requirements based on the IELTS Academic test.

The IELTS Academic test is made up of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. You can read more about these sections below. If you are not already receiving IELTS results we can help you. See how to get started with IELTS.


The paper has four parts, with 10 questions in each part. The questions are in the same order as the information in the recording, so the answer to the first question will be before the answer to the second question, and so on.

Parts 1 and 2 deal with everyday, social situations. There is a conversation between two speakers in Part 1 (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements). Only one person speaks in Part 2 (for example, a speech about local facilities).

Parts 3 and 4 deal with educational and training situations. In Part 3 there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor). In Part 4 only one person speaks on an academic subject.

Test takers will hear the recordings once only. Different accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand and North American, are used.


Time allowed: Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes to transfer answers to an answer sheet)

Number of parts: 4

Number of questions: 40

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark. The final score is given as a band score in whole or half bands, e.g. 5.5 or 7.0.

Academic Reading

Texts come from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources, written for a non-specialist audience. All the topics are of general interest to students at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The texts may be written in different styles, for example, narrative, descriptive or discursive/argumentative. At least one text contains detailed logical argument. Texts may also contain diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts use technical vocabulary, then a simple dictionary definition is provided.


Time allowed: 60 minutes (including transfer time)

Number of sections: 3; the total text length is 2150–2750 words

Number of questions: 40

Marking: Each correct answer receives 1 mark. The final score is given as a band score from 1–9 in whole or half bands, e.g. 4 or 6.5.

Academic Writing

There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.

In Task 1, test takers will have to describe some visual information in their own words (a graph, table, chart or diagram). They need to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

In Task 2, they are given a point of view, argument or problem which they need to discuss. They will need to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.

They must write answers using full sentences, and not as notes or bullet points.


Time allowed: 60 minutes

Number of tasks: 2

Marking: Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.


The Speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the test taker and an examiner. The Speaking test is recorded.

There are three parts to the test, and each part follows a specific pattern of tasks in order to test speaking ability in different ways.

In Part 1 test takers will be asked about themselves and about familiar topics, such as home and family, studies or interests.

In Part 2 they are shown a card asking them to talk about a particular topic. After a minute to prepare, they must speak for up to two minutes and then answer general questions on the topic.

In Part 3 further questions will be asked about the topic in more detail.


Time allowed: 11–14 minutes

Number of parts: 3

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Find out more about each question type in the IELTS Academic test.