Trang chủ‎ > ‎USA‎ > ‎

IELTS Exam Preparation

Useful Links:
IELTS practice test:                       https://www.ielts.org/en-us/usa/ielts-for-test-takers/ielts-practice-test


Test takers who understand the format of IELTS are at an advantage. Make sure you’re familiar with how IELTS testing works.

There are two IELTS tests available, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both tests are graded in exactly the same way. 

You’ll take the first three parts of the test on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.

LISTENING

The IELTS Listening test is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills, including how well you

  • understand main ideas and specific factual information
  • recognise the opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
  • follow the development of an argument
Format

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  • Recording 1: a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 2: a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities
  • Recording 3: a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Recording 4: a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture
TimingThe IELTS Listening test takes approximately 30 minutes, and you are allowed an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers from your question booklet to your answer sheet.
Number of Questions40 questions
Task TypesTwo tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.
MarksEach correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.
Answer sheetDownload the Listening test answer sheet. (329KB)

Take a free listening practice test.


READING

You will need to read quickly and efficiently, and manage your time. You will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions in your IELTS Reading test. The content of the Reading test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

The IELTS Reading test is designed to assess a wide range of reading skills, including how well you

  • read for the general sense of a passage
  • read for the main ideas
  • read for detail
  • understand inferences and implied meaning
  • recognise a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • follow the development of an argument

Academic Reading

FormatThree long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.  They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
Timing 60 minutes including the transfer time
Number of Questions40 questions
Task TypesFill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions
MarksEach correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.
Answer sheetDownload the Reading test answer sheet (97KB)

 General Training Reading

FormatExtracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.
Timing 60 minutes including the transfer time
Number of Questions40 questions
Task TypesFill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions
MarksEach correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.
Answer sheetDownload the Reading test answer sheet (97KB)

Take a free reading practice test.


WRITING

The IELTS Writing test is designed to assess a wide range of writing skills, including how well you

  • write a response appropriately
  • organise ideas
  • use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately

Academic Writing

FormatWrite in a formal style in the IELTS Academic Writing test. In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should find the issues interesting and easy to understand.
Timing The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2. You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.
Number of Questions2 questions
Task TypesTwo tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2
MarksYour Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner. Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test. Scores are reported in whole and half bands

General Training Writing

FormatThe topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest. In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.
Timing The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2. You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.
Number of Questions2 questions
Task TypesTwo tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2
MarksYour Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner. Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test. Scores are reported in whole and half bands

Take a free writing practice test.


SPEAKING

You will talk to a certified examiner in the IELTS Speaking test. The test is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get. A variety of accents may be used, and the test will be recorded.

The content of the IELTS Speaking test is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills.

The examiner will want to see how well you can

  • communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions
  • speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language
  • organise your ideas coherently
  • express and justify your opinions
  • analyse, discuss and speculate about issues

Make sure that you relax and talk fluently. You will need to speak naturally.

Format

Part 1: The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.

Part 2: The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking. The examiner will then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3: The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Timing11-14 minutes
MarksYou will be assessed on your performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners. You will be marked on the four criteria: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, pronunciation. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Take a free speaking practice test.

When you are happy that you understand what you will need to do in each section, try some of our free IELTS practice tests.


IELTS preparation courses

Prepare for your IELTS test with a range of free IELTS study materials and resources from the British Council. Below you will find online courses and face-to-face training.

Road to IELTS logo

Free online resources: Road to IELTS

As one of the British Council’s most popular online preparation courses, Road to IELTS will help you prepare for your test in the best way possible.

Free online course: Understanding IELTS

During our free 6-week IELTS online preparation course, you find out about each section of the IELTS test – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

IELTS students in class

Face to face preparation courses

Take your test with confidence – sign up for an IELTS preparatory course designed by experts at the British Council.


 

Free IELTS practice tests

Prepare for IELTS with our free practice tests and answers. Use these tests to carry out timed practice sessions and develop your test technique. 

We strongly advise test takers to practice IELTS. By taking our free practice tests, you will get to know the test format, experience the types of tasks you will be asked to undertake, test yourself under timed conditions and review your answers and compare them with model answers.

Remember, you will take the Listening, Reading and Writing tests on the same day with no breaks in between, so it’s important to practise under similar conditions.

When taking the tests, remember that each test is presented over a number of web pages. Make sure you answer all the questions and carry out the tasks on each page in the correct order. 

Listening practice tests

The IELTS Listening test will take about 30 minutes, and you will have an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Prepare with our free materials.

Reading practice tests

You will be allowed 1 hour to complete all 3 sections of the IELTS Academic or General Reading test. Prepare with our free materials.

Writing practice tests

You will be allowed 1 hour to complete two tasks in the IELTS Academic Writing test. Prepare with our free materials.

Speaking practice tests

Prepare for your IELTS Speaking test and familiarise yourself with the structure of the test.

 

Free IELTS mobile apps

Our free IELTS apps allow you to learn English flexibly – wherever you are and whenever you want to prepare.

IELTS Prep App

The easy-to-use IELTS Prep App gives you instant access to free practice tests, grammar tips, exercises, quizzes and more. You'll also find sample questions for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking, as well as vocabulary practice.

You can also track your progress to help you understand the IELTS assessment criteria and to build your confidence for the real test.

Download for: iOS | Android

IELTS Word Power

This app contains more than 100 questions to help you put your vocabulary to the test and improve your English in preparation for IELTS. You can tackle questions from 11 different categories, ranging from work and business, to science and technology.

Download for: iOS | Android

IELTS Word Ready

WORDREADY is an online resource, delivering personalised vocabulary learning to help you prepare for IELTS Academic.

When you book your IELTS test with the British Council, you get WORDREADY for free. Book an IELTS test today.

 

Tips and videos

https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/tips-videos/listening
https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/tips-videos/reading
https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/tips-videos/writing
https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/tips-videos/speaking

Books and study guides

You can benefit from a wide range of IELTS preparation books and materials, created by some of the world’s leading English language specialists.

How To Prepare for IELTS

Available in British Council test centres and selected book stores, this IELTS practice book can be used in class or for home study. It includes a CD-ROM and recording transcript that contains practical preparation exercises to help you study each of the four IELTS skills. 

Official IELTS Practice Materials Volume 1

This book and audio CD contains some sample tests for all modules: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.  Answers and examiners’ comments are also included for extra help.

Buy online 

Official IELTS Practice Materials Volume 2

The second volume of the Official IELTS Practice Materials range contains more helpful sample tests for each of the four IELTS skills. Answers and examiners’ comments are also included, as well as a DVD of a practice listening test and footage of students taking their speaking tests. 

Buy online 

Top Tips for IELTS Academic

If you’re taking the Academic test, then this IELTS practice book is a must-read. It comes with a CD-ROM containing:

  • an interactive practice test
  • sample answers and scores
  • test feedback.

To give you a clearer idea of what you’ll need to do when taking your test, a video of a Speaking test is also included.

Buy online 

Top Tips for IELTS General Training

This guide is really helpful for those of you taking IELTS General Training. It includes important advice for all four parts of the test, as well as a CD-ROM containing: 

  • an interactive practice test
  • sample answers and scores
  • test feedback.

To give you an idea of what to expect on your test day, a video of an example Speaking test is also included.

Buy online 

 

IELTS scoring in detail

The IELTS Academic and General Training test results are reported using the same nine-band scale

The Test Report Form provides your Overall Band Score and band scores for each of the four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

Overall Band Score

The Overall Band Score is the average of the four component scores, rounded to the nearest whole or half band. The component scores are weighted equally.

Some examples:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking Average of four components
(total of the four individual
component scores
divided by four) 
Band score
Test taker A 6.5 6.5 5 7 6.25 6.5
Test taker B 4.0 3.5 4.0 4.0 3.875 4.0
Test taker C 6.5 6.5 5.5 6.0 6.125 6.0

If the average of the four components ends in .25, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next whole band.

Component Band Scores

Listening

The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions. Each correct answer is awarded one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Reading

The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions. Each correct answer is awarded one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

The Academic and General Training Reading tests are graded on the same scale. The distinction between the two tests is one of genre or text type. However, Academic Reading tests may contain texts which feature more difficult vocabulary or greater complexity of style. It is usual that a greater number of questions must be answered correctly on a General Training Reading test to secure a given band score.

The tables below indicate the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in Listening, Academic Reading and General Training Reading.

Listening
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 16
6 23
7 30
8 35
Academic Reading
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 35
General Training Reading
Band score Raw score out of 10
4 15
5 23
6 30
7 34
8 38

Writing

Examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria:

  • Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2)
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The criteria are weighted equally and the score on the task is the average.

Speaking

Examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria:

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

The criteria are weighted equally and the Speaking band score is the average.

Versions of the assessment criteria for Writing and Speaking have been developed to help stakeholders better understand the level of performance required to secure a particular band score: