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IELTS General Training

The ideal test to assess English language ability for those migrating to work in a country where English is spoken, or for study below degree level.

The IELTS General Training test is designed to help you assess applicants who want to migrate to a country where English is spoken, (e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK) or if you are selecting candidates who wish to train or study at below degree level.

In IELTS, there are four papers: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The Speaking and Listening tests are the same in both the Academic and the General Training tests, but the Reading and Writing tests are different.


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.

General Training Reading

There are three sections of increasing difficulty.

The texts in Section 1 deal with everyday topics, and they are the sort of texts that a person would need to be able to understand when living in a country where English is spoken. Test takers will need to pick out important information, e.g. from notices, advertisements and timetables.

The texts in Section 2 focus on work topics, for example, job descriptions, contracts, staff development and training materials.

The text in Section 3 deals with a topic of general interest. The style of writing in Section 3 is generally descriptive (containing detailed information) and instructive (telling you how to do something). The Section 3 text is longer and more complex than the texts in Sections 1 and 2. Section 3 texts are taken from newspapers, magazines, books and online resources.


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. 3 or 8.5.

General Training Writing

There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.

In Task 1, test takers have to respond to a situation by writing a letter, for example, asking for information or explaining a situation. 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 need to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.

Test takers must write answers using full sentences, 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 the test taker 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 General Training Test.