What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to help you work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. This includes countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA.

Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test. IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9.

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

Why take IELTS?

If you are looking to work, live or study in an English-speaking country, then you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language ability.

English is the third most spoken language in the world, with 379 million speakers worldwide.

Being able to communicate in the native language of the country you wish to work or study in, has a wide range of benefits. It is also essential for job opportunities as well as integration into the community.

IELTS is the most popular test for those looking to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is globally recognised by more than 11,000 employers, universities, schools and immigration bodies including 3,400 institutions in the USA.

Read more IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening test is divided into four sections and the sections get increasingly difficult. You only hear each section one time.

The time for the test is 40 minutes. The listening takes 30 minutes, but you then have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet.


The first two sections of the test are concerned with social needs.

The final two sections are concerned with situations related more closely to educational or training contexts.

All the IELTS listening topics are of general interest and it makes no difference what subjects you are planning to study or what work you intend to do.

A range of English accents and dialects are used in the recordings which reflects the international usage of IELTS

Section One

In the first section there is a conversation between two speakers. For example - a conversation about travel arrangements, booking accommodation, or decisions on a night out.

Section Two

The second section is a monologue (a speech by one person). It will be set in an everyday social context. For example - a speech about student services on a University campus or arrangements for meals during a conference.

Section Three

Section three is a conversation between up to four people. For example - a conversation between a tutor and a student about an assignment or between three students planning a research project.

Section Four

The final part is another monologue. It is a lecture or talk of general academic interest such as a university lecture.

Question Types

The following types of question may appear on the test:

  1. Multiple choice

  2. Short-answer questions

  3. Sentence completion

  4. Notes/summary/diagram/flow chart/table completion

  5. Labelling a diagram which has numbered parts

  6. Classification

  7. Matching

You will be provided with instructions on the test paper on how to answer the questions, and they are clear and easy to follow. You will be given examples of any unfamiliar question types.

During the IELTS listening test, you are given time to read the questions and enter and then check your answers. You enter your answers on the question paper as you listen and when the tape ends ten minutes are allowed for you to transfer your answers to an Answer Sheet.

One mark is awarded for each of the 40 items in the test.

Listening Practice Lessons

Lesson 1: IELTS Listening Multiple Choice Tips

In this lesson, learn some tips on how to improve your listening skills for multiple choice type questions.

Lesson 2: IELTS Listening Distractors

In this lesson we learn more about a common way that you are tricked into writing the wrong answer. Learn about this so you can avoid the mistake.

Lesson 3: IELTS Listening Map Labelling

Here you can learn more about how to label a map, a task that sometimes comes up in Section Two of the test. Learn about the language of location and other top tips to score well.

Lesson 4: IELTS Signposting Language for Section 4

Section 4 is the most difficult part of the listening test. Learn useful signposting language to improve your score for this section.

Lesson 5: IELTS Pre-Listening Activities - Predicting the Answer

Predicting what you are going to hear is a really important skill that can help improve your listening and increase your score.

Lesson 6: IELTS Listening Sentence Completion Strategies

In this IELTS listening practice you will learn some strategies to deal with sentence completion questions.

Read more IELTS Reading

Academic and General Training

If you are taking IELTS to study abroad then you will take the Academic IELTS Reading Module.

If you are taking IELTS for other purposes such as working abroad, then you will take the General Training Reading Module.

Either way, improving your reading for IELTS is important as you will face some complex reading and difficult vocabulary.

The aim of these pages is to give you the skills and practice to tackle the reading module.

IELTS Reading Resources

Here are some resources to help you with your reading:

Lessons, tips and strategies: All the techniques and tips you need to do well in the test

Practice tests: Online tests so you can make sure you are ready for the test on the day

About the Reading Test

Both IELTS Reading Tests, Academic and General Training, aim to assess the following skills:

  1. Reading for gist

  2. Reading for main ideas

  3. Reading for detail

  4. Understanding inferences and implied meaning

  5. Recognising a writers opinions

  6. Attitudes and purpose

  7. Following the development of an argument

The tests vary in their content:


60 minutes

40 questions

3 readings

Texts from, journals, magazines, books, newspapers

General interest texts written for non-specialist audience

General Training

60 minutes

40 questions

3 readings

Texts from, advertisements, booklets, leaflets, manuals, notices, newspapers, magazines

Texts related to everyday life, work & general interest

The Academic IELTS Reading Module

The Academic IELTS Reading Module takes 60 minutes and there are 40 questions to answer. Each question is worth 1 mark.

The Reading Passages

There are three reading passages with a total of 2,150-2,750 words. Texts are taken from journals, magazines, books, and newspapers.

All the topics are of general interest and the texts have been written for a non-specialist audience. The readings are intended to be about issues that are appropriate to candidates who will enter postgraduate or undergraduate courses.

At least one text will contain detailed logical argument. One of the texts may contain non-verbal materials such as graphs, illustrations or diagrams.

If there are technical terms which you may not know in the text then a glossary is provided. The texts and questions become more difficult through the paper.

The Questions

Instructions are clear and easy to follow and you will be provided with examples of any unfamiliar question types. Texts and questions appear on a Question Paper which you can write on but not take away from the test room.

You must answers all questions on an Answer Sheet during the 60 minutes - there is not extra time at the end to transfer your answers to an answer sheet.

The position of the questions varies - some of the questions may come before a passage, some may come after, depending on the question type.

These are the types of question you can expect to see in the test:

  1. Short-answer questions

  2. multiple choice

  3. sentence completion

  4. notes/summary/diagram/flow chart/table completion

  5. choosing a heading for a paragraph

  6. identification of writer's views/claims - yes, no or not given

  7. identification of information - true, false or not given

  8. classification

  9. matching lists/phrases

There is an answer sheet and you must enter all the questions on there during the test. There is no extra time at the end to enter the scores.

The General Training Module

As with the Academic IELTS reading, the General Training reading module takes 60 minutes, there are 40 questions, and each one is worth 1 mark.

The Reading Passages

The readings are 2,150-2,750 words, each text being harder than the one before.

In contrast to the Academic Reading, texts are taken from advertisements, notices, booklets, official documents, leaflets, newspapers, timetables, instruction manuals, books and magazines. They are all authentic.

These are texts that you are likely to have to deal with daily in an English speaking country.

Section one:

This section contains 2-3 short factual texts with topics that will be relevant to your everyday life when you live abroad in an English environment. For example, a text may consist of a number of advertisements.

Section Two:

There are 2 factual texts and they focus on issues related to work such as applying for a job, pay and conditions, staff training and development and company policies.

Section Three:

The text in this section is longer and more difficult. It is a text on a topic of general interest.

The Questions

As with the Academic IELTS reading, these are the questions you can expect to see on the test:

  1. short-answer questions

  2. multiple choice

  3. sentence completion

  4. notes/summary/diagram/flow chart/table completion

  5. choosing a heading for a paragraph

  6. identification of writer's views/claims - yes, no or not given

  7. identification of information - true, false or not given

  8. classification

  9. matching lists/phrases.

Read more IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing Test

The IELTS writing test is the module that many students find the most difficult.

This is because in a short space of time (one hour) you have to write an essay and a graph (academic module) or a letter (general training module).

Strategies for the IELTS Writing Test

These are some of our most important IELTS Writing Pages for the Academic module:

  1. Task 1 Lessons

  2. Task 2 Lessons

  3. Model Essays with Feedback

  4. Model Graphs with Feedback

  5. Writing Practice Tests

  6. Writing Tips

  7. IELTS Grammar

These are explained below:

Task 1 Lessons:


How to Write an Academic IELTS Task 1

This starter lessons tells you in simple steps how to structure and write a basic IELTS Graph.

Types of Graph

  1. Graphs Over Time

This important lesson shows you what you must do to properly describe a graph or chart that has a period of time.

  1. IELTS Pie Chart

In this lesson you'll learn how to write about a pie chart, with tips on how to best organize your answer and advice on the language to use.

If you are taking General Training, you can get tips and strategies and learn more about this particular module here:

  1. IELTS Process

In this lesson you'll learn how to describe an IELTS process diagram, with information about organizing your answer and using the passive voice.

  1. Two graphs together

Sometimes you get two graphs to describe together. This lessons shows you how to organize your answer if you do.

  1. IELTS Tables

This lesson provides you with IELTS practice for tables. It shows you that tables are not that different from other types of graph.

Task 1 Language

  1. Language of Change

This lesson explains some useful sentence structures using some common language of change and you can practice the words with a gap fill.

  1. Language to Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast language is needed for most graphs and diagrams so it is important to learn and practice it.

  1. A Common Mistake

This lesson takes you through a mistake that is common when describing graphs in Task 1.

  1. Using Prepositions

Learn how to use the right prepositions when you are using the language of change in a graph over time.

  1. Describing graphs in the future

Sometimes you may be given a graph to describe that is predicting what will happen in the future. View some strategies on how to approach a task 1 like this.

  1. Tenses for graphs, processes, and maps

This lesson gives you tips on the types of tenses you should know for the various types of task you could be given.


  1. Organizing a Line Graph (Part 1)

Find out about how there is more than one was to organize a task 1 graph, and learn how to write about a graph divided into 'age groups'.

  1. Organising a Line Graph (Part 2)

If you want to achieve a high band score for your graph you must ensure it is well-organised. This lesson tells you more about one possible way of doing this.

These IELTS writing task 1 lessons provide you with practice for learning about all the various types of graph or diagram you may get.

It discusses line graphs, processes, bar charts, pie charts and tables and provides you with many other tips, advice and practice for the types of language you will need to use.

Task 2 Lessons

Lessons, Tips and Strategies

These IELTS writing task 2 lessons, strategies and tips will show you how to write an IELTS essay. They go through all the various types of essay that you may get and instructions on how to best answer them.

For the Task 2, general or academic modules, you have to write an essay that must be a minimum of 250 words. You have 40 minutes.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Lessons

These lessons are free and teach you all the key things you need to know about the IELTS writing task 2, such as writing an introduction, analysing essay questions, writing for a band 7, developing coherency and understanding opinion essays.

How to Write an IELTS Essay:


This starter lessons tells you in simple steps how to structure and write a basic IELTS essay.

Getting Ready to Write:

  1. Identifying the Topic

Learn how to identify the topic of an essay question in order to help you answer it correctly.

  1. Identifying the Task

This IELTS practice will help you identify the task of an essay question. The most important thing to make sure you answer the question.

  1. Brainstorming and Planning

In this IELTS lesson, learn how brainstorm ideas for your essay and how to extend those ideas and create a plan.

  1. IELTS Task Response

In this lesson we look at the dangers of not properly answering an IELTS writing task 2 essay question.

  1. Ideas for IELTS

Candidates often worry about not having any ideas for IELTS essay topics. This gives you some advise on how to generate ideas.

Parts of an Essay:

  1. IELTS Essay Introduction

This lesson explains how you should approach writing an introduction for an IELTS Task 2 essay.

  1. Writing a Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is an important part of your essay, so this lesson explains how to write thesis statements for different essay types.

  1. Paragraph Writing

Writing clear and well-organized paragraphs is essential for your essay, so here you will learn about the basic elements that make up a good paragraph.

  1. IELTS Essay Conclusion

Learn how to write a quick conclusion for an IELTS essay.

Coherency and Cohesion:

  1. Writing Coherence

One way to improve coherency in your writing is to use transition words. This lesson teaches you how.

  1. Pronouns

Your writing must be coherent, and this IELTS practice lesson shows you how pronouns can help you to do this

Getting a High Band:

How to get an IELTS Writing band 7

There is no quick way to achieve this, but this lesson provides some general guidance on what is required to get an IELTS band 7 in the writing module.

Band 7 Transitional Phrases for Essays

Learn about useful phrases that can be used to improve the sophistication of your writing in argumentative essays.

How to Score IELTS Band 8

This lesson tell you more about how the scoring works for band 8 writing and how long it can take you to get a band 8.

Essay Types:

  1. Problem Solution Essays

Learn how to write a problem solution essay for the IELTS test - a quick method that will produce a well-organized answer.

  1. IELTS Opinion Essays

Get an overview of the various types of essay that ask for your opinion in the test.

  1. Advantage Disadvantage Essay

This lesson shows you how to write an IELTS advantage disadvantage essay that requires you to give an opinion.

  1. A Complex Essay Question

This lesson shows you how to answer a more complex IELTS essay question that does not have a straightforward 'task' given to guide you.

IELTS Sample Essays

Here you will find IELTS Sample Essays for a variety of common topics that appear in the writing exam.

The model answers all have tips and strategies for how you may approach the question and comments on the sample answer.

IELTS Sample Essays

These IELTS sample essays have been categorised in a way that makes it easy for you to see how certain essay question types require you to provide certain responses to ensure the question is fully answered.

Specifically these are:

  1. Agree / Disagree

  2. Discuss Two Opinions

  3. Causes

  4. Problems and Solutions

  5. Advantages and Disadvantages

  6. Other Types

Agree / Disagree Type Questions

In these types of question you are given one opinion and you then have to state the extent to which you agree or disagree with that opinion:

  1. Advertising

  2. Alternative Medicine

  3. Spending on the Arts

  4. Human Cloning

  5. Social Interaction & the Internet

  6. Airline Tax

  7. Free University Education

  8. Scientific Research

  9. Banning Smoking

  10. Employing Older People

  11. Vegetarianism

  12. Paying Taxes

  13. Examinations or Formal Assessment

  14. Multinational Organisations and Culture

  15. Internet vs Newspapers (recent exam question)

  16. Technology Development (recent exam question)

  17. Dying of Languages

Discuss Two Opinions Type Questions

In this essay question type you are given two opinions, and you have to discuss both of these and then give your own view:

  1. University Education

  2. Reducing Crime

  3. Animal Rights

  4. Child Development

  5. Diet & Health

  6. Childcare

  7. Donating Money to Charity Essay

  8. Closing Zoos (recent exam question)

  9. Becoming Independent (recent exam question)

  10. Formal and Informal Education (recent exam question)

Cause Type Questions

There are a variety of 'cause type' essay questions. In these you first have to give the reasons why something has happened, in other words the causes, but then discuss a different aspect of it, such as the effects, solutions or the extent to whether it is a positive or negative development:

Causes & Effects:

  1. Child Obesity

  2. Skin Whitening Creams

  3. Family Size

  4. Having Children Later in Life

Causes and Solutions:

  1. Youth Crime

  2. Global Warming

  3. Stress

  4. Paying Attention in Class

  5. International Travel & Prejudice

  6. Museums & Historical Places

Causes, Pros & Cons:

  1. Family Closeness

  2. Living Alone

Problems & Solutions Type Questions

In these type of questions, instead of discussing the causes of a problem, you need to discuss the problems related to a particular issue in society, and then suggest what can be to solve these problems:

  1. Overpopulation

  2. Competing for Jobs

Advantage & Disadvantages Type Questions

In these type of questions you are asked to discuss the positive and negative sides of a particular topic. You will usually be asked this in the context of giving an opinion (e.g. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?):

  1. Traffic Problems

  2. Food Additives

  3. Computer Games

  4. Age Discrimination at Work (recent exam question)

  5. Children using Tablets and Computers (recent exam question)

  6. Cell Phones, Internet, & Communication (recent exam question)

  7. Working from Home (recent exam question)

  8. Eating Locally grown Produce (recent exam question)

  9. Oil and Gas Essay (recent exam question)

Other Types of Question

There are sometimes questions that don't fit easily into a particular category as above. You can view some IELTS sample essays for these here:

  1. Protecting Old Buildings

  2. Animal Testing

  3. Fear of Crime

  4. Communication Technology Essay

IELTS Writing Tips

Below you'll find important IELTS writing tips to help you with task 1 and 2 of the IELTS writing module.

  1. Don’t write too little For task 1 you have to write 150 words, and for task 2 you have to write 250 words. Make sure you do not write less than this amount or your band score may be reduced.

  2. Begin to get an idea of how many words you normally write on one line. This way you will know roughly how much you have written without having to keep counting all the words – you probably won’t have time to do this!

  3. Don’t write too much The examiner is looking for quality, not quantity! You will not necessarily get more marks for writing more, so don’t write more for no reason.This will really depend on your writing ability. Someone of a higher level who needs to spend less time checking their grammar will have time to write more.

But if this is not you, then make sure you write at least the minimum number of words, then use the extra time to check your grammar.

  1. Plan and check your answer Don’t just start writing when the time begins and stop when it finishes.

Use some time at the beginning checking you understand the question, brainstorming your ideas and planning your answer.

Then spend some time at the end checking your grammar.

5. Spend more time on Task 2 More of the marks are for task 2 and this task requires 100 more words, so spend 20 minutes on task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2.

It does not matter which task you write first.

Write clearly You are not being graded on your handwriting; however, if the examiner cannot read some things you have written, it is not going to help you! So try to write clearly.

6. Organize clearly Don’t present the examiner with a wall of writing! Make sure you make use of paragraphing to divide up the different arguments or topics you are discussing.

7. Don’t copy the question Never copy the question! You may want to use the question (or rubric as it is called) in the introduction of both tasks in order to introduce the topic, but make sure you put it in your own words.

8. Use a variety of sentence structures The examiner will be looking to see what your grammatical range is so make sure you are not just using a limited range of sentence types.

To get a higher score you will need to show you can use simple, compound and complex sentences.

9. Read the question carefully This is one of the most important IELTS writing tips! When my students write essays, one of the most common mistakes is not answering the question.Study the rubric very carefully and make sure you are clear about what you have to write about.

If you are writing about the wrong topic or not responding to exactly what the question asks you, your band score will be lower.

10. Read all instructions carefully As with all of the modules of the IELTS test, make sure you read all the instructions carefully. These will tell you where you need to write each answer and what you need to do.

Read more IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking

Feeling worried about the IELTS speaking test and unsure of how to achieve the best score? Many candidates feel this way.

IELTS buddy will help you prepare for the test so you know what kind of questions you will get asked and what is the best way to answer them!

Even candidates who can speak well may not get the score they want if they do not know what is expected of them in the test.

IELTS Speaking Resources

These are some of the resources to help you with IELTS Speaking:

Lessons, Tips and Strategies: Here you'll find lots of advice and techniques to improve your speaking score

Full Sample Practice Tests: Check out these speaking practice tests

IELTS Speaking Questions with Answers: View sample speaking questions with answers and hear a real test

Example questions from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Speaking Forum: If you still have questions about the test you will likely get the answer in the forum.


Part 1

4-5 minutes

Introduction and questions on familiar topic areas such as work, study, hobbies, holidays

Part 2

3-4 minutes

2 minute talk on a familiar topic

Part 3

4-5 minutes

Two-way discussion on issues related to the topic in part 2

Before the part one questions start, there is a brief introduction. The examiner will introduce him/herself and you will need to tell the examiner your name and show your identification such as a passport or ID card.

The questions will then begin. This part of the IELTS speaking test is the easiest part. The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself.

Common topics are on your home, family, job, studies, interests, and a range of similar familiar topic areas.

The examiner will choose three topic areas and you'll have about four questions on each. So you'll have around 10-14 questions, depending on how long you speak for on each.

Here is an example:

I’d just like to ask you some questions about your work.

  1. What job do you do?

  2. Why did you choose that particular job?

  3. What do you do every day?

  4. What other work would you consider doing?

I’d like to move on and ask you some questions about relaxing.

  1. What type of activities help you relax?

  2. Do you like to do these activities alone or with other people?

  3. Why do you think it is important for people to relax?

  4. Do you think people have enough time for relaxing?

Let’s change the topic and talk about your family.

  1. Do you have a big or a small family?

  2. Do you live together or nearby?

  3. What activities do you like to do together?

  4. Who is your favourite family member?


Time: 3-4 minutes

In the IELTS speaking part 2 you will have to talk on a topic that the examiner gives you for two minutes. It is designed to test your ability to speak for an extended period without hesitation or repetition.

You will be given a card that asks you to 'describe' something. They are topics that you should have some experience of or know something about.

You may, for example, be asked to describe a person you know, a place you've been to, or a possession you have, but there are many different topics so you have to be prepared for any topic. On the card there will also be three sub-points that you should cover when you are speaking.

You will have one minute to prepare what you are going to say, and you'll be given a paper and a pencil to make notes if you want to.

Here is an example:

Describe the type of clothes you prefer to wear:

What the clothes look like

When you prefer to wear them

Where you like to buy them

Explain why you like wearing these clothes

You may then be asked one or two short follow up questions:

Do your friends like to wear this type of clothes?

Do you wear other styles of clothes as well?


Time: 4-5 minutes

In the final part of the IELTS speaking test the examiner will have a discussion with you about some issues that will be related to the topic that you talked about in part 2. The questions in this part are of a more abstract nature and so are more difficult than the questions in part one and two.

It's a two-way discussion but you will still be expected to do most of the speaking.

Here is an example:

  1. Is buying clothes a popular activity for teenagers in your country?

  2. How much money should parents spend on their children's clothes?

  3. What types of fashion do teenagers like to wear in your country?

  4. What influence has the fashion industry had in your country?

  5. Are the fashions of today different from those when your parents were young?

  6. What do you think will be the effects of the fashion industry in the next ten years?

Read more IELTS Grammar

IELTS Grammar

These pages are here to help you with your IELTS grammar, mainly for writing.

However, it can obviously help with your speaking and also with your reading as it is easy to misunderstand what you have read if you are confused by different sentence structures.

All grammar for IELTS is important, but there are some specific things that are directly related to IELTS.

IELTS Grammar Lessons:

  1. Sentence clauses

  2. Sentence structure

  3. Complex sentences

  4. Adverbial Clauses

  5. Relative Clauses

  6. Noun Clauses

  7. Modal verbs

  8. Subject Verb Agreement

  9. Gerunds

  10. Infinitives

  11. Gerund or Infinitive?

  12. Parallel Structure

  13. Passive Voice

Why is grammar important?

There is no actual grammar test section in the IELTS test, but you are still graded on this by the examiner in the speaking test and writing test.

These are specifically what you are graded on in each test:


  1. Task Achievement / Response

  2. Coherence and Cohesion

  3. Lexical Resource

  4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy


  1. Fluency and coherence

  2. Lexical Resource

  3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  4. Pronunication

So as you can see, grammar makes up 25% of each test.

However, it is also important for the 'lexical resource' part. This is your use of such things as your vocabulary, idiomatic vocabulary, and collocations.

You will be marked down on this if you are making mistakes with such things as word forms (e.g. using a noun form instead of a verb form) so this is also grammar related.

This is not to suggest that you should focus only on grammar as the other elements such as fluency in your speaking and your ability to answer the question and organise your response in the writing are a major part of the marking.

But it is clearly important to work on improving your IELTS grammar, and this is often the part candidates have the most problems with and the thing that brings their score down.

How is the grammar for IELTS writing marked exactly?

In order to work on improving your IELTS grammar, it is useful to understand how it is marked.

For each of the parts of the exam highlighed above, you are given a band score (so you get four scores) and these are then averaged to get your overall score for your writing.

For example:


Task Achievement / Response - band 6

Coherence and Cohesion - band 6

Lexical Resource - band 6

Grammatical Range and Accuracy - band 5

Overall score = 5.5

The table below shows the two sections on lexis and grammar. These are adapted from the public band descriptors and show you what the examiner is looking for.

The column on 'grammatical range and accuracy' is exactly as from the public band descriptors, but the 'lexical resource' column just picks out the parts related to grammar.