IELTS Test Information FAQ

This page contains IELTS FAQ and IELTS test information.  Below are over 100 questions answered about the IELTS test, results, listening, reading, writing and speaking. If you want to find information about the IELTS Test, look below. All information has been up-dated for 2024. Click on red links to access recommended pages.

IELTS Test Information

  1. What does IELTS mean? Answer
    IELTS stands for: International English Language Testing System. This means it is about international English, not just British English.
  2. How many skills are tested in the IELTS test? Answer
    There are 4 skills tested: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  3. Which is best, IDP or British Council? Answer
    See this page for tips and advice about where to take your test: IDP or BC?
  4. What is IELTS UKVI?  Answer
    See this page for information on IELTS UKVI: 
  5. Does the IELTS test accept American English? Answer
    Yes, it does. It is an international test of English. In the speaking test, most examiners speak with an English or Australian accent and you can have a mixed accent. However, for spelling in the writing test, you must choose either US or UK spelling – you can’t mix them.
  6. Which skills do I take on the same day? Answer
    Listening, reading and writing are all taken on the same day. The speaking test can be taken either before, after or on the same day as the other skills.
  7. Is there a break between the reading and writing test? Answer
    No, there is no break between the listening, reading and writing test. They are all taken together and take a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes. So, make sure you eat and drink well before you take your test
  8. Can I use a pen in my IELTS Test? Answer
    You can use a pen or pencil for your IELTS writing test. However, for your listening and reading test, you must use a pencil (don’t forget to take an eraser with you).
  9. How many times can I take my IELTS test? Answer
    You can take it as many times as you want. There is no limit. There is no time limit to wait between tests either.
  10. Can I wear a watch in my IELTS test?Answer
    No, you can’t. You can’t wear a watch in any of the IELTS tests, even the speaking test. There will be a clock on the wall so you can check the time.
  11. What happens if I am colour blind?Answer
    You should contact your IELTS test center before the exam to let them know. They will adapt any colour pages or illustrations for you in the test.
  12. General Training IELTS – what are the differences? Answer
    The GT IELTS test is only different in reading and writing task 1.  However, the question types of the reading test are the same as the Academic test which is why all reading lessons on my site will help you prepare for your GT reading test. The Writing Task 2 is also the same but with slightly easier questions. Even the marking criteria are the same for task 2 so you can benefit from all my WT2 lessons on my site. All students (GT and Academic) take the same speaking and listening test. In the sections below, you will see more tips about the GT test or you can also check this page: GT IELTS Differences.
  13. Can I take IELTS online at home? Answer
    In 2022, IELTS started offering a full IELTS test online. You can take it in your home or at a test center. See this page for details: IELTS Official Online Test Info
  14. What are the advantages to taking online IELTS? Answer
    The results will be available in just 3-6 days. Also, you have the option to take your test at home which gives you a more relaxed atmosphere.
  15. If I take online IELTS, are the writing and speaking tests marked by a computer? Answer
    The speaking and writing sections of IELTS will always be marked by a trained IELTS examiner.
  16. Is the online IELTS test different to the test you take in an IELTS center? Answer
    No. The contents, format, level and marking are all the same. It’s the same test that everyone takes.
  17. How do I take the speaking test online Answer
    This will be done through a video call with an examiner. So, make sure your laptop mic is working and the volume is set properly. 

IELTS Test Changes 

The IELTS test has had only very few minor changes over the years. See below:

  1. In the older IELTS Cambridge test book, you’ll find the listening test has an example answer at the beginning of the audio. This is no longer given.
  2. The IELTS test can now be done on a computer and also done at home if wished. These options may not yet be available in all test centers so check with your local test center what your options are. All full IELTS test have the same format, level and marking – there’s no distinction except those mentioned on this page.
  3. In the paper based test, the order of the sections are: Listening, Reading and then Writing with no break between sections. However, it has been indicated that the order of the sections may vary with the computer test in some centers so please check this with your test center before you take the test.
  4. The timing on the listening test is slightly different if you do the test on the computer. Instead of 10 mins to transfer answers to the answer sheet as in the paper test, you will only get 2 mins to check your answers because your answers are already in the computer and only need checking.

Computer Delivered IELTS

See the following link page to read about the pros and cons of doing the IELTS test by computer. Click here: Computer Based IELTS Advice

Test Results Information

  1. How is IELTS scored? Where can I find out about band scores?  Answer
  2. How long does it take for my test results to arrive? Answer
    Your results will be posted to you 13 days after you have taken your test. It is possible to get your results by sms or online at some test centers. Contact them to find out. However, there are times when results are delayed longer than 13 days – see question number 5 below.
  3. How long are my IELTS results valid? Answer
    Your IELTS results are valid for 2 years.
  4. Can I get my IELTS test remarked? Answers
    Yes, you can. You must pay to do this so check with your local test centre for the price. If your results change and your band score goes up, you will get your money refunded. You have 6 weeks after taking your test to get your test remarked. Your test will be remarked by a different examiner. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the results of your remark to arrive. Alternatively, you could take your test again. See this page to read about a successful remark and read the comments on that page too for other great results: IELTS Remark Story.
  5. If I take IELTS twice, which result can I use? Answers
    You can use the test in which you scored the highest as long as the result is still valid (which means as long as it is not more than two years old).
  6. My IELTS results have not arrived and it is longer than 13 days late? Why has this happened? Answer

IELTS Listening Test Information

  1. How many sections are there? Answer
    There are 4 sections in the IELTS listening test. Section 1 and 2 are based on social situations while sections 3 and 4 are academic.
  2. Does everyone take the same test or is there a separate GT and separate Academic Listening test? Answer
    There is only one listening test for everyone. The same test, same marking. GT & Academic candidates take the same listening test and the same speaking test.
  3. How many questions are there? Answer
    There are a total of 40 questions in the listening test. 10 questions in each section. You get one point for each question you answer correctly.
  4. How long is the listening test? Answer
    The IELTS listening test lasts for 40 minutes. You listen to the recording and answer the questions for 30 minutes. After that you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. However, for the computer based test, you only have 2 mins to check your answers.
  5. How many times will I be able to listen to the recording? Answer
    You only get a chance to listen once to the recording. So make sure you prepare the questions well and that you concentrate by listen out for keywords and paraphrases.
  6. What is the listening answer sheet? Answer
    The listening answer sheet is for the paper based IELTS listening test. You will be given a question paper and an answer sheet. You write all your answers on the question paper. At the end of the listening test, you’ll be given 10 mins to transfer those answers to the answer sheet. You should practice transferring your answers to the answer sheet at home before you take the test. However, for the computer test, the method is different. See the question and answer below to learn.
  7. What about transferring answers in the computer test? Answer
    In the computer test, you put your answers directly into the computer as you listen. This is different to the paper test where you put your answers on the question paper and then get 10 mins to transfer your answer to the answer sheet at the end of the recording of the listening test. For the computer test, your answers are already in the computer by the time the recording actually finishes so you only get 2 mins extra to check and review your final answers after the full recording has finished. This is actually the only difference between the listening paper and computer tests.
  8. How do I put my answers in to the computer for the listening test? Answer
    As you listen and read the question, you select the answer on the screen. You will need to type the word into the screen, or drag the answer from one location to another, or click an option. You can practice putting your answers into the computer screen on this Official IELTS website page: BC IELTS Computer Listening Practice. Please note, it isn’t a full practice test, just a chance to see how you put your answers into the computer.
  9. Can I prepare for the computer based listening test using paper listening tests, such as in the IELTS Cambridge Test books? Answer
    Yes, definitely. It’s the same test whether you write your answers on paper or on a computer screen. The test isn’t a different test – it’s the exact same test. As long as you do know how to put answers into the computer using the link I’ve given in the answer above, you can use all the paper tests as your preparation.
  10. How can I find my score for listening? Answer
    Here is a list of points for band scores 6-8 (visit the Band Scores page for all scores)
    • band score 6 = 23 correct answers out of 40
    • band score 7 = 30 correct answers out of 40
    • band score 8 = 35 correct answers out of 40
  11. Do I lose a point if my answer is wrong? Answer
    No, you don’t lose a point for a wrong answer. So, never leave an empty space on your answer sheet – always have a guess. If your answer is wrong, it just means you don’t gain a point. There are no minus points in IELTS.
  12. Do the answers come in order? Answer
    The answers follow the order of the questions. This means the answer for question 1 will come before the answer for question 2 and so on. However, multiple choice options will not appear in order. For example, option A might come after option C.
  13. Will I have time to read the questions before I listen? Answer
    Yes. The audio will let you know how many questions are coming and give you time to read them. Go to the BC IELTS website and try a free test. This way you will get used to how long you have to prepare the questions. You will need to work on your speed reading skills.
  14. Can I write on the listening question paper? Answer
    Yes, you can. You can make notes, underline words and write on any part of the question paper. Only your answer sheet will be marked. In fact, it is very useful to make notes on your question paper and can help you locate answers. For the computer based test, you can highlight words on the screen.
  15. Can I have extra paper for making notes? Answer
    No, you should use the question paper to write on while you listen.
  16. Will I see the transcript? Answer
    No, you won’t. You will hear the audio without the transcript. On my website, you only provide the transcript with the answers, not with the questions. This is so that you can listen and check your answers while reading the transcript – it’s a great way to improve your English and pronunciation.
  17. Are capital letters important? Answer
    No. Capital letters are not important. They won’t affect your score. The recommendation to use capital letters was because in the paper based test, writing in capitals makes it easier for the person marking. Some candidates have very bad handwriting so answers in reading and listening were better written in capitals. For the computer based test, this isn’t an issue. See this page: Capital Letters in IELTS Answers 
  18. Should I use a pen or pencil? Answer
    For your listening and reading test, you must use a pencil. so don’t forget to take an eraser with you. However, for writing you can choose either pen or pencil.
  19. Do questions come in order? Answer
    Yes. IELTS Listening questions come in order.
  20. In multiple choice questions, can I write words or do the answers need to be letters?? Answer
    It is very important that if the instructions ask you to choose a letter, then your answer must be a letter not words. Read the instructions very carefully so you don’t lose points.
  21. How can I improve my multiple choice listening?Answer
    Watch this video lesson, by clicking on the link, to get tips and practice for multiple choice questions in listening
  22. What accents will there be in the listening test? Answer
    IELTS is an international English language test so you might hear a variety of different accents in the recording. You should practice listening to different accents before your test.
  23. Is spelling important? Answer
    Yes, it is. If the answer is spelled incorrectly, it will be marked wrong.
  24. How can I improve my listening?  Answer
    You can improve by doing IELTS listening practice exercises: IELTS Listening Page. And you can develop by listening to a range of accents and topics. If you visit my “Useful Websites” page, you will see links to BBC news and other useful sites for listening. But remember that these sites will improve your listening ability but you will still need to work on listening skills for your IELTS test in order to listening for specific information and answers to questions.
  25. How can I improve section 4 of the listening test?Answer
    1) Section 4 is a lecture so that means it will be structured. The information will follow a normal pattern which you must try to follow. The speaker will move from point to point. Check your questions to see if they are a new point or examples etc. See the order of information in the questions. 2) You must build speed at preparing the questions for section 4. You must be able to read and prepare all questions in the time given. This is skill you must practice. Immediately underline key words which will help you follow the information coming. You should practice this skill again and again to improve. Always underline or circle the words which will help you locate your place in the listening. 3) Always keep your eye on more than one question at once. If you are listening for question 34, then you must also have your eye on question 35. When I say “keep your eye on” , I mean keep your mind open for the key words in the next question(s). 4) Some key words will be repeated but that doesn’t mean other key words will be. You must learn to identify which are useful key words and which are not. Any word that can’t be paraphrased will be useful to help you find your place in the talk. So, academic words, names, dates etc are all useful and can help you. 5) Listen for signposts. These are words which indicate when the speaker is repeating information, when the speaker is moving on to another point in the talk or just giving examples and details. Signposts are similar to linking devices “Another point to consider is…” or “if we look at the aspect of …”. Pay attention to these words.
  26. What does “two words and/or number” mean? Answer
    It means you can write two words with a number (for example “26 local men”) or you can just have a number. You can also have one word with a number. But you can’t have more than two words with a number. This is explained very clearly in the 25 essential tips video for listening:
  27. Should I use “the” or “a” with my answer? Answer
    If you are completing a sentence then you must make sure the sentence is grammatically correct when you fill in the answer. That means you might need to use articles (a / the). However, if you are only writing notes, forms or completing a table, diagram or flowchart, you won’t need to think about grammar.
  28. How can I write the time? 9am or 9.00am or 9:30am? Answer
    IELTS accept all forms of written time: 9AM, 9am, 9:00AM, 9.00AM & 9.00am.
  29. How can I write a date? 25th march or 25 march?Answer
    IELTS accept both. We never write the word “of”
  30. If the questions require two letters, how do I write the answer: 11. AD / 12.AD OR 11.A  /12.D Answer
    If there are two questions and you must choose only two letters, then you must write one letter for each answer. If you write 11.AD and 12.AD, then you have written four letters. When you write only two letters, one for each question, you can write them in any order.
  31. If I write Northroad instead of North Road, is the answer correct? Answer
    No, it is wrong. If the answer contains two separate words, then they must be written separately. This is testing your spelling of compound nouns. 
  32. What do brackets means in the answer key of books?For example, (a) reception (room).Answer
    See this page to learn about why books use brackets to explain the answers: IELTS Listening Answers in Brackets
  33. Can I use brackets for my answers, for example, school(s)? Answer
    No, you can’t. IELTS candidates must choose one answer only. They cannot use brackets in their answers. See the above question for the relevant link.
  34. Can I paraphrase my answer, for example,” educate” instead of “teach”? Or can I write a similar word, such as “colour” instead of “colouring”? Answer
    No, you can’t. Either your answer is 100% correct or it is wrong. The word you write must be the precise word that you hear in the recording. You can’t alter the word or paraphrase the word.
  35. Can I write “6” instead of the word “6”? Answer
    Yes. As you are marked on spelling, it is best to write numbers as digits. The instructions will always allow for this.
  36. Does a date of birth, such as 11/08/1998 count as one number? Answer
    Yes. These are not three independent numbers. They are three connected numbers, making one number.
  37. Does the house number “Flat 36B” count as one word and one number? Does the letter B make it another word? Answer
    Flat 36B counts as one word and one number. In English, house numbers might contain letters, such as house 36, house 36A and house 36B. These letters are part of the number.
  38. What happens when I get two answers right out of three in a multiple choice list selection question? Answer
    Firstly, you need to look and see if the three answers you are asked to choose are for three question. For example, for questions 11, 12 and 13 choose three letters from a list. In this case, each letter that is correct is considered an answer for one question. Each question that is answered correctly is one point. So, in this case, you’ve got two questions right and one wrong. However, if you are asked to select three letters for one single question (which I have never seen in the test), then you would need all letters right for that one question. All you need to remember is each question you answer correctly counts for one mark.

Click here: IELTS Listening Exercises & Tips

Reading and Listening

  1. If I use all capital letters in listening, do I need to do the same for reading? Answer
    No. For each part of the test, you decide if you want to use capital letters or lower case. This means you can use all capitals for listening and lower case for reading.

IELTS Reading Test Information

  1. How long is the IELTS reading test? Answer
    The reading test is 1 hour in length and it comes directly after your listening test. There is no extra time given to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
  2. How many reading passages are there? Answer
    There are three reading passages for the academic paper and the general training paper. 
  3. Does everyone take the same reading test? Answer
    No, there are two different tests for IELTS reading. One is the academic paper and one is the general training paper. Before your test you will decide which IELTS test you will take and this will affect both your reading and writing papers. If you don’t know which one you are taking, please follow the link to the IELTS British Council page for information.
  4. What kind of reading passages are there for the academic paper? Answer
    Each passage in the academic reading paper is long. The passages are usually taken from books, magazine and newspapers (they are authentic passages). They can often contain complicated language, academic vocabulary and sometimes diagrams, maps or some kind of illustration.
  5. What kind of passages are there for the general training paper? Answer
    The GT reading paper has three passages, each one getting more difficult. The first one is relevant to everyday English life and could be factual information about a school course or some kind of service, such as a hotel. The second one focuses on work issues, such as training courses at work, resources at work, application procedures or about pay schemes.  The last reading passage is longer and is the most difficult. This is based on a topic of general interest.
  6. How many questions are there? Answer
    There are 40 questions in total for your reading test. 
  7. How are the scores calculated? Answer
    You get one point for each correct answer. You do not lose points for an incorrect answer. The academic and general training papers have different scoring. Please visit the Band Scores page for a list of the scores.
  8. Do I lose a point if my answer is wrong? Answer
    No, you don’t lose a point for a wrong answer. So, never leave an empty space on your answer sheet – always have a guess.
  9. Do I have time to transfer my answers at the end of the reading test? Answer
    No, there is no extra time for transferring answers. You must write your answers directly on to your answer sheet during the 1 hour.
  10. How long should I spend on each passage? Answer
    It is recommended that you spend 20 minutes on each passage. I agree with this completely. Make sure you keep your eyes on the clock to make sure you manage your time effectively. Don’t leave yourself too little time for passage 3.
  11. What types of questions will I get in IELTS reading? Answer
    There are many different types of questions and you must practice all of them. Here’s a link to a page with a list of IELTS reading question types and tips on how to deal with them. It is an essential page to read in your preparation for IELTS reading.
  12. Can I write on the reading question paper? Answer
    Yes, you can. You can make notes, underline words and write on any part of the question paper. Only your answer sheet will be marked. In fact, it is very useful to make notes on your question paper and can help you locate answers.
  13. Can I write all my answers in capital letters on my reading answer sheet? Answer
    Yes, you can. Sometimes this is a good idea because usually your writing will be easier to read.
  14. Can I use a highlighter pen? Answer
    No, you can’t. So, get used to using a pencil to highlight ideas and words in reading passages before your test.
  15. Should I use a pen or pencil? Answer
    For your reading and listening test, you must use a pencil. so don’t forget to take an eraser with you. However, for writing you can choose either pen or pencil.
  16. Is spelling important? Answer
    Yes, it is. If the answer is spelled incorrectly, it will be marked wrong. So pay attention to your spelling of long academic words.
  17. Can I write T instead of True for the True False Not Given questions? Answer
    Yes, it’s possible to write a letter instead of the word True or you can write Y instead of the word Yes. 
  18. How can I improve my reading skills? Answer
    Here are some tips for improving your reading skills for IELTS. (1) develop skills of each type of question in reading – focus on just one type of question each day to improve your technique. Follow the link to get information and tips on question types. (2) develop your speed reading skills –  the passages are long and time is limited so you need to build your speed. (3) develop your ability to scan – IELTS reading is not about understanding everything, it’s about locating answers. (4) read academic articles on various topics – read the bbc news, the new scientist, the economist etc. Here’s a link to a page with useful websites for IELTS. (5) practice – use my practice lessons to improve your techniques and skills (6) practice tests – do practice tests to develop your concentration, test your timing and to know your band score. You should take your practice tests from the IELTS Cambridge books 1-10 because they are real past exam papers.
  19. Do all answers come in order? Answer
    No, only some of the question types have answers which follow the order of information in the passage. You need to learn which ones do and don’t. Here is a link to read information and tips about the question types in IELTS reading.
  20. How can I improve my score for matching headings? Answer
    There are a number of issues with matching headings. Firstly, you need to identify the main point of the paragraph or section. The main point could be the first sentence, in the middle or at the end of the paragraph. This is testing your ability to see the difference between a main point and supporting points. Secondly, spend time looking more closely at the headings. Think of what they mean, paraphrase the words and spot headings which seem to be similar to each other. Thirdly, you don’t need to approach the headings in order. I recommend you start with a heading which is distinctly different in content to the others – it will be quicker and easier to find. Fourthly, don’t waste time, if you can’t match the heading, then move on to the next heading. There are often more headings than you actually need. Lastly, don’t just try to match key words, try to match meaning. If the heading says “A description of …”, then you need to look for a paragraph which contains adjectives and descriptive language rather than looking for the word “description”.  So, don’t just match key words, try to predict the type of language you might find in that paragraph. Follow the link to practice Matching Headings Questions.
  21. Can I do the sections in a different order? Answer
    Yes, you can. You have one hour for the reading test and you can use that hour as you wish. You can do passage three first if you want. You can skip questions and come back to them later.
  22. Do I need to write my answers directly on the answer sheet? Answer
    There is no extra time to transfer your answers in the IELTS reading test. In listening, you have time to transfer your answers. In IELTS reading, you do not. You should write your answers directly on the answer sheet when you find them.

IELTS Writing Test Information

  1. How many parts to the writing test are there? Answer
    There are two parts. Writing task 1 is a report for the academic test and a letter for the General Training test. Writing task 2 is an essay for both tests.
  2. How long is the IELTS writing test? Answer
    It takes a total of 1 hour. You should spend 20 minutes on writing task 1 and 40 minutes on writing task 2.
  3. How many words should I write for task 1 and task 2? Answer
    You must write over 150 words for task 1 and over 250 words for task 2. See this page: Length of essay advice.
  4. What is the difference between the General Training paper and the Academic Paper? Answer
    The general training paper is mainly for people who want to migrate to a foreign country. For this paper, students need to write a letter for task 1 and an essay for task 2.
    The academic paper is mostly for people who want to enter college or university or for doctors and nurses. Most people take this paper. For this paper, students need to write an academic report for task 1 (based on a bar chart or other types of graphs) and an essay for writing task 2. To read more about the differences, see this page:
  5. Can I have extra paper for planning and making notes? Answer
    You should make notes and plan on the question paper before you start writing. You are not usually given extra paper for planning.
  6. Should I do writing task 1 or writing task 2 first? Answer
    It is recommended that you spend the first 20 minutes writing task 1. However, if you choose to start with writing task 2, it is your choice. Do what works best for you.
  7. Should I leave a space at the start of a paragraph? Answer
    No, it is not necessary to do that. It is better to leave one empty line between your paragraphs to help the examiner identify the paragraphs.
  8. UK spelling or US spelling?
    You can use either UK spelling or US spelling, but you can’t mix them. You need to choose which one you will use.

IELTS Writing Task 1

The information below is about Writing Task 1. To learn from free lessons, model answers and tips for task 1, click here: Writing Task 1

  1. How many types of task 1 are there?
    There are many types for the academic IELTS paper. Here are the main types: diagrams, maps, building plans, bar charts, line graphs, pie charts and tables. Follow the link to see sample charts for IELTS academic paper. It is also possible to get more than one type in your task 1 test. However for the GT paper, you only need to write a letter.
  2. How much is writing task 1 worth?
    It is worth only one third of your marks for IELTS writing. Task 2 is worth twice as much. To learn how writing is calculated, see this page: IELTS Writing Scoring.
  3. What's the difference between the academic paper and the general training paper in task 1?
    In the general training paper you have to write a letter whereas in the academic paper you must write a report based on a chart.
  4.  Is the general training task 1 marked the same way as the academic task 1?
    No, there is a difference between the way one of the four criteria is marked. Task Achievement, which accounts for 25% of your marks, is assessed differently in the general paper and academic paper. Follow this link to see the difference between band scores 5 to 8.
  5. Will I get a chart or letter in task 1?
    In the general training paper you have to write a letter whereas in the academic paper you must write a report based on a chart, table etc.
  6.  Can I take more than 20 minutes to write my task 1?
    You must manage your own time in the writing test. However, it is highly recommended that you don’t take more than 20 minutes to write task 1.
  7.  How can I organise the information in my task 1 academic?
    Always organise your information into the following paragraphs for task 1:
    1. Introduction
    2. Overview (key features)
    3. Body Paragraph A (accurate detail in a logical order)
    4. Body Paragraph B (accurate detail in a logical order)
    Task 1 is like a formula that you apply to all task 1 types. The more you get used to the formula, the quicker it will be to write your task 1 report. Also, the more you practice and develop a technique for each kind of task 1, the quicker you will write.
  8.  Do I need to compare and contrast data in each body paragraph for task 1 academic?
    No, you don’t. The instructions say to compare and contrast where relevant. It is not always appropriate to compare and contrast everything. In fact, it can sometimes make your report very confusing to read. You must decide if the data should be reported only or compared and contrasted when you look at the chart and plan your writing.
  9.  How can I write the introduction for task 1 academic?
    The introduction is quite formulaic and can be learned. You look at the information given by IELTS and paraphrase it. You also need to add the dates, countries etc. It is usually short and no more than two sentences. Here is an example introduction: “The graph illustrates the number of people travelling abroad from the UK over a ten year period from 2000 to 2010.” You can also add information about the units: “Units are measured in …..” 
  10. Should I write a conclusion?
     No, you don’t need a conclusion for writing task 1. Watch this video to learn about the difference between an overview and conclusion in writing task 1.
  11.   How can I score my own writing task 1?
    It’s not easy to grade your own writing. However, following the requirements for each band score will help you understand your score. Here’a a link to understand the difference between band score 5 and 8 for each of the 4 assessment criteria in writing task 1: Here are also some more tips:
    1. If you can’t find an IELTS teacher to mark your writing, get an English native speaker to check your vocabulary and grammar mistakes. If you have frequent errors, then you know you will get band score 5 or few errors you will get band 7 in each criteria for vocab and grammar. Of course there are other criteria involved for a total band score, but at least you will know your level for two out of four criteria.
    2. Practice writing charts that have models attached then compare your writing to the model.
    3. Learn and understand all the marking criteria on the link I provided above.
  12.  Will the examiner check my spelling?
    Yes, the examiner will pay attention to your spelling. This is part of the criterion of vocabulary. If you have a lot of spelling mistakes, you will get a lower score in that criterion.
  13. Should I put only two key features in my overview for academic task 1?
    It depends on the chart, some charts have more than two key features so you will need include all of them in the overview. There is no fixed rule about how many key features to have. Take a look at this bar chart report, you will see more than two key features mentioned..
  14. How do I organise my paragraphs in GT letters?
    Follow the order of the bullet points – don’t change that order. You will also have an opening line and closing line.
  15. Can I make information up for my letter in GT?
    Yes, you need to imagine the information you will use to write your letter. But control how creative you are. These are functional letters, not creative writing. For academic candidates, you cannot include any made up information or opinions in task 1 reports.
  16. Do I need to write my own name at the end of the GT letter?
    It’s up to you. You can use your own name or any name at all.
  17. Do I need to add the date and address at the top of the letter?
    No, this isn’t a real letter. Your first words will be “Dear Sir” or “Hi Dave”, for example.

IELTS Writing Task 2

  1. What is IELTS Writing Task 2?
    For writing task 2, you must write an essay which is over 250 words and you have 40 mins to do this. IELTS will provide you with the essay question.
  2. How long does writing task 2 take?
    It is recommended to take 40 mins to plan and write your essay.
  3. Can I spend more than 40 mins on my essay?
    You can decide the length of time to spend on your essay but I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 40 mins on it.
  4. Should I write task 1 or task 2 first?
    It is your choice. You can decide which one to do first. Most students do task 1 first and I would recommend that. However, it is your choice.
  5. What is the difference between the General Training writing task 2 and the academic task 2?
    There is little difference. Both the GT writing task 2 and the academic are essays which have similar topics, the same format and techniques. The only difference is that the GT essay question is slightly easier than the academic test.
  6. How much is writing task 2 worth?
    It is worth double the marks of writing task 1. So, make sure you give yourself the full 40 minutes to write your essay.
  7. What kind of essays are there in writing task 2?
    There are a number of different essay types: opinion essays, discussion essays, advantage /disadvantage essays, solution essays and direct question essays. You can see a list of essay types and examples on this page: IELTS Essay types. Some teachers give these essay types different names. To get practice essay questions by topic and also by type of essay, go to this page: 100 IELTS essay questions page.
  8. How is writing task 2 scored?
    It is marked by an examiner who will assess you on 4 criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Vocabulary and Grammar. Each criteria is equal and worth 25% of your task 2 marks. Here is a link to learn more about the IELTS Test Band Scores (for all sections of the test). . If you want to learn about the marking criteria specifically for Writing Task 2 with tips to improve, click here: Writing Task 2 Scores & Marking
  9. Do I need to give my opinion in the essay?
    Only give your opinion if the instructions ask for your opinion. For example, Do you agree or disagree? this is clearly asking for your opinion. Don’t give your opinion if it doesn’t ask for it. Read the instructions carefully. Here’s a lesson to help you learn when you should and shouldn’t give your opinion in IELTS writing task 2. Also here’s a link to a video tutorial about how to give your opinion in an IELTS  essay.
  10. How long should my essay be?
    You must write over 250 words but there is no upper limit. For more advice, please watch this free video lesson on how many words to write.
  11. What happens if I write under 250 words?
    You will receive a penalty from IELTS if you are under the word count. This will affect your band score for the criterion of Task Response. Here’s a link to learn more about the penalty for writing task 2
  12. How many paragraphs should I have?
    You can have either 4 or 5. You must have an introduction and conclusion. You can have either two or three body paragraphs.
  13. Do I need a conclusion?
    Yes, you do. It is vital that you conclude your essay. If you think you are running out of time, then jump to your conclusion. Follow this link to learn the best linkers to use for your conclusion paragraph.
  14. What kinds of topics will I get in writing task 2?
    There are common topics which appear frequently in the test. Follow this link to see a list of common topics for writing task 2.
  15. Should I write the title of the essay on my answer sheet?
    No, you shouldn’t. The examiner has the essay title so you do not need to repeat it on your paper. Your first sentence should be the beginning of your essay.
  16. Is spelling important?
    Yes, the examiner will check your spelling. It is part of the criterion of vocabulary.
  17. Is punctuation important?
    Yes, it is. This is part of the grammar marking criterion. Try to avoid using ; or : because they are not necessary. Just use commas and full stops.
  18. What's the difference between an IELTS essay and a normal essay
    There are quite a lot of differences. Firstly, you’ve got a time limit of only 40 minutes. Secondly, you’ve got a specific word count of over 250 words. Thirdly, IELTS is testing your English grammar and vocabulary – you have to demonstrate particular skills and ability to get a particular band score. Fourthly, there is a particular essay structure and use of linking devices that is recommended to follow. Lastly, you need to get used to the different types of essay questions and how to address the tasks fully to get more marks. So quite a lot of differences really.
  19. What's the difference between an opinion essay and an argumentative essay?
    There’s no difference. Teachers give essays different names. Some teachers call them opinion essays and some teachers call them argumentative essays. They are both essays in which you need to give your opinion because the task states “To what extend do you agree?” or something similar, directly asking what you think.
  20. Can I use a pen or a pencil for writing?
    For IELTS writing, you can choose whether to use a pen or pencil – it’s your choice.
  21. Can I get extra writing paper if I run out of space on my answer sheet?
    Yes, you can.  Put your hand up and the exam supervisor will come to you. You can then ask for more writing paper.
  22. Can I get the official writing paper to practice with?
    Yes, you can.  Here’s a link to the official IELTS answer sheet for writing task 1 and 2. You should practice writing on it before you test to estimate the number of lines you need to fill in order to complete the word requirement. Watch this video lesson to get tips about using the answer sheet.

IELTS Speaking Test Information

  1. How many parts are there to the IELTS speaking test?
    There are 3 parts. There is an interview, a talk and a discussion with the examiner.
  2. How long does the speaking test take?
    It takes a total of 11 to 14 minutes. Part 1 is 4-5 mins, part 2 is 3-4 mins and part 3 is 4-5 mins.
  3. Is the speaking test face to face with an examiner or by computer?
    Your speaking test will be face to face with an IELTS examiner. There is no option to do your IELTS test by computer.
  4. How will the speaking test be marked?
    You will be marked on fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Each one accounts for 25% of your marks. Learn learn more about the speaking criteria, follow the link.
  5. When will my speaking test be marked? Does the examiner listen to the recording to decide the marks?
    The examiner who conducts the test and asks you the questions will decide your score when you leave the room. The recording is only used if you ask for a remark. At that time a senior examiner will listen to it and decide your score. 
  6. What kinds of topics will be asked in the speaking test?
    There are many different topics for each part of the speaking test. Follow the link to get a list of common topics and questions for part 1, part 2 and part 3.
  7. How many questions will I be asked?
    You will be asked 12 questions in part 1 (these are based on 3 different topics) and in part 3, you will be asked 5 or more questions – it depends on the length of your answers. Try to aim for long, detailed answers in part 3.
  8. Why do I need to expand my answers in my speaking test?
    To get band score 6 and above for the criterion of fluency, you must show the examiner that you are willing to speak at length. This means you are happy to give longer answers.
  9. Do I need to talk for 2 minutes in part 2?
    In part 2, you must talk for between 1 and 2 minutes. I recommended you aim for between 1.5 to 2 mins which will show a good level of fluency and the ability to speak at length. However, if you are not a confident speaker, don’t try to push it too far and just aim for slightly over 1 minute.
  10. What happens if I continue talking past 2 mins in speaking part 2?
    The examiner will control the time very strictly in your test. The examiner will stop you when you reach 2 minutes and then he/she will move on to part 3.
  11. Can I choose my topic to talk about in part 2?
    No, the examiner will give you a topic card which contains a list of prompts.
  12. Can I ask the examiner to change the topic is part 2 if I can't talk about it?
    No, you can’t change the topic. You must try to talk on the topic you are given.
  13. Do I need to follow the prompts on the cue card in speaking part 2?
    No, you don’t have to, it’s not compulsory. However, I recommend that you do follow the prompts because they offer a good structure for your talk. This is part of the criterion of fluency.
  14. Do I need to take a pencil into the speaking test for part 2?
    No, you don’t. The examiner will give you a pencil and paper during speaking part 2 so that you can take notes. You’ll have both your notes and the cue card in front of you during your talk. After part 2 is finished and before part 3 starts, the examiner will remove the cue card, pencil and paper. The examiner does not look at your notes. They are not part of the marking.
  15. Will the examiner look at the notes I make in part 2?
    No. The examiner will not mark your notes and will not look at them. They are for you to use for planning and to help you guide you through your talk.
  16. What's the difference between part 1 and part 3 in the IELTS speaking test?
    Part 1 is like an interview. The examiner will ask you short answer questions on common topics relating to your life or your country. In part 3, it is more similar to a discussion. The examiner will ask you about world issues or broader, more complex questions. In part 3, your answers should be longer and more detailed.
  17. Should I give examples in my answers?
    Yes, it is very useful to do that, particularly in part 3 when you need to give longer, more detailed answers.
  18. What can I do if I don't understand the question?
    In speaking part 1, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question but the examiner can’t explain it or help you. In part 2, the examiner will give you a topic and you can’t change it. In part 3, you can ask the examiner to explain the question, just say ” I’m sorry could you explain that, please?
  19. Will I get a lower score if I ask the examiner to repeat the question?
    No, it will not affect your score. However, only do this two or three times and no more.
  20. What can I do if I don't have any ideas for the answer in part 3?
    It sometimes happens that you are asked a question for which you have no ideas. Here’s a typical example “How do you think space exploration benefits mankind?” If you get a question but you have no ideas for the answer, you can say “To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it before. I guess there are benefits to space exploration but I can’t say what they are.” This answer is still good. You are still using a range of good language.
  21. Does it matter if I have an accent when I talk?
    No, as long as the examiner can understand clearly. If your accent prevents the examiner from understanding you, it will lower your score drastically.
  22. Why did the examiner interrupt my answer?
     It is possible for the examiner to interrupt your answer and not let you finish. There are three main reasons why this might happen. Firstly, there is a time limit and the examiner must move on to the next question. Secondly, the examiner is satisfied with the language in your answer and wants to move quickly to a new question which tests another part of your English. Thirdly, your answer has gone off topic and the examiner wants to start a new question. So, if the examiner interrupts your answer, don’t worry about it. Just focus on the next question and answer confidently.
  23. Can I ask the examiner for his or her opinion?
    No, this is a language test, the examiner wants to hear your English and your opinions.
  24. Where can I get a practice speaking test from?
    Follow this link and you will be able to do a practice speaking test on video and then get a link to model answers.
  25. Should I correct my mistakes when I'm speaking in the test?
    It is ok to correct some mistakes but make sure it doesn’t affect your fluency. Every time you stop speaking to correct a mistake, it will affect your fluency score. So, mostly just ignore your mistakes and keep talking.
  26. How should I greet the examiner?
    When you walk into the speaking exam room, the examiner will greet you and do an ID check. Follow this link to learn all about the questions for the ID check and how to greet the examiner: Greeting & ID Check in IELTS Speaking.  After the ID check, the examiner will start the recording device and your speaking test begins.
  27. What should I wear for my speaking test?
    You can wear whatever you want. This is not a formal interview, it is only an informal speaking test. Wear clothes that you are most comfortable in. Also take an extra layer in case it is cold. 
  28. What happens if my answer includes the answer to the next question on the examiner's list?
    The examiner has quite a long list of possible questions and they choose which questions to ask and which not to ask. So if you answer includes the answer to the next question on the examiner’s list, he or she will skip that question and move on to the question after that. So never worry about adding extra information to your answer – it won’t affect the next question.
  29. Can I use body language in my speaking test?
    The examiner is only interested in hearing your English language. It is your choice if you want to use body language or not. Most people find it natural to use body language while talking so feel free to use it. It is important that you are relaxed and talk naturally during your test.



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