The IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is a series of tests tailored to assess the English language ability of a student. It is managed and run by both Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia. As one of the most acknowledged English language tests out there, it’s no wonder that UK universities use it as a benchmark to judge the English speaking ability of an applicant, and it will have to be taken if you are applying for an academic course at a university in the UK. The test comes in two formats, the General Training test and the Academic test.

The actual IELTS test itself is made up of four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The four parts will be covered in more detail below. The entire exam lasts around two hours and forty-five minutes.
Listening
The Listening Test is divided into four parts, with a total of 40 questions. It takes 30 minutes.
In this thirty minute section, you will have to listen to a range of monologues and conversations in different accents from around the world. As you progress through the section, the difficulty will start to increase. You will have the final 10 minutes to complete the answer sheet.

Speaking
The Speaking Test is divided into three parts, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes.
The speaking test is divided into 3 sections. The first section is devoted to introducing yourself, and talking about topics that are familiar to you, for example home, family, or what you do in your free time.
The first section will usually last 4-5 minutes.
The second section consists of the test taker receiving a task card with a particular topic. They will have a minute to write notes on it, then will be expected to talk about the topic for 2 minutes.
The third and final section will involve a discussion between the test taker and the examiner, usually on questions related to the previous topic in Section 2.
Examiners at this point will try and determine the linguistic ceiling of the candidate.

Reading
The Reading Test is available in two different formats: the Academic Test or the General Training Test. It takes 60 minutes.
In this section applicants will have an hour to complete 3 sections, which will test your ability to read, and assess your logical thinking, vocabulary, and comprehension.
The sections get increasingly difficult as you progress.

Writing
The Writing Test comprises two parts: Task 1 and Task 2. It takes 60 minutes.
The writing exam is divided into two sections.
The first section, which is 20 minutes long, is based around writing a 150 word paragraph describing a table or diagram.
The second section, which is 40 minutes long, is focused on writing an argumentative piece on a topic, about 250 words long.
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