The IELTS General Training test is suitable for those applying to study below degree level. This includes an English-speaking school or college. It can also be taken for work experience or other employment training.

IELTS General Training is also required for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test features everyday English language skills that you will need in social and workplace environments.

IELTS Test Format

IELTS test assess your English language skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking.

The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

Listening

30 minutes

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.

Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.

Reading

60 minutes

The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS General Training test – this includes extracts 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.

Writing

60 minutes

Topics are of general interest. There are two tasks:

  • Task 1 – you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
  • Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.

Speaking

11–14 minutes

The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

  • Part 1 – the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
  • Part 2  – you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
  • Part 3 – you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.
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