How to prepare for the IELTS test – Understanding the IELTS test format

In this second article in our how to prepare for the IELTS test series we are going to look at the IELTS test format. This article will help you to get a greater understanding of the IELTS test format. We will also look at how the test is conducted.

It is important to get a good understanding of the IELTS test format so you know how to prepare for the test. An in depth understanding of exactly what to expect on test day means you will go into the test with more confidence.

Before you begin studying for the IELTS test you need to choose which version of the IELTS test to take. There are TWO different versions of the test that you could take.

1) IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test is the test that the majority of people take. It is mainly for people who want to study at university.

2) IELTS General training

People who take the IELTS General training test are normally those who want to work in or emigrate to an English speaking country.

If you take either version of the test, the speaking and listening sections of the test are the same. This is regardless of whether you take the IELTS Academic or General training test.

When you do take the test you will take the following three parts all on ONE day. They will be taken in the following order.

1) Listening, first
2) Reading, second
3) Writing, third

The speaking test may be taken on the same day or 7 days before or after you complete the other sections of the test. This will depend on which country you are taking your test in.

Preparing for the test

When you are doing the listening test it is possible that a variety of different accents could be used. This may include people from countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or America. You should get used to a wide range of accents when you are practicing for the IELTS listening test.

For all of your responses during the test it is acceptable to use both British or American grammar, spelling and vocabulary.

During the IELTS Academic test your English language knowledge will be tested using the type of language that will normally be encountered in an academic or higher learning environment.
The specific field of study you are hoping to enter does not matter as each of the different tests you do are able to be completed by everyone.

During the IELTS General Training test your English language knowledge will be tested using the type of language that you would encounter in a normal every day situation.
The tasks you will be asked to complete relate to the kind of interactions that may occur in a workplace or every day social setting.


IELTS test format

Click on the button below to watch our nine part video series called getting started. These videos will help you to get a greater understanding of the IELTS test format. Plus they teach you about the format of each of the different sections of the test.

IELTS test format


Online lessons

To watch lessons on how to complete each of the different sections of the IELTS test, then check out our online course by clicking on the button below.

IELTS Whiz online course

Booking the test

When you are satisfied you understand the IELTS test format and you will be able to reach your target band score, you can book your IELTS test at either the British council or IDP websites using the buttons below.

Book your test - British council
Book your test - IDP


Damon Bailey
Damon Bailey

As one of the co-founders at IELTS Whiz I really love helping students to achieve their education goals and improve their opportunities for the future. I find it really rewarding to have a positive impact on the lives of students and enjoy assisting them on the path towards reaching their dreams.

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