IELTS Academic Exam Test Format
The IELTS test assesses your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in less than three hours.
There are two types of IELTS: academic and general training. Listening and speaking are the same for both tests, but the topics of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on the test you take.
The listening, reading and writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no interruptions between them.
The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test center will advise you.
The total time of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Test format: listening
For 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 in an everyday social context.
- Recording 2: a monologue set in an everyday social context, for example, a speech about local facilities.
- Recording 3 - A conversation between four people in an educational or training context, for example a college tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
- Recording 4: a monologue on an academic topic, for example, a university lecture.
Description of IELTS Listening
As of January 4, 2020, some minor changes are made to the paper listening test instructions and layout:
There are four sections with ten questions each. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard in the audio.
The first two sections deal with situations situated in everyday social contexts. In Section 1, there is a conversation between two speakers (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements), and in Section 2, there is a monologue (for example, a speech about local facilities). The final two sections deal with situations situated in educational and training contexts. In Section 3, there is a conversation between two keynote speakers (for example, two college students in discussion, perhaps led by a tutor), and in Section 4, there is a monologue on an academic topic.
Recordings are heard only once. They include a variety of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American, and Canadian.
|Synchronization||Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes of transfer time).|
|Task types||A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, correspondence, plan / map / diagram labeling, form / note / table / flowchart / summary completion, sentence completion.|
|Answering||Test takers write their answers on the questionnaire as they listen and are given 10 minutes at the end of the test to transfer their answers to an answer sheet. Care must be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet, as misspelling and grammar are penalized.|
|Trademarks||Each question is worth 1 point.|
IELTS listening in detail
A detailed look at the document with links to related resources.
Task type 1: multiple choice
|Task type and format||
In multiple-choice tasks, there is a question followed by three possible answers or the beginning of a sentence followed by three possible ways to complete the sentence. Test takers must choose the correct answer: A, B, or C.
Sometimes test takers are given a long list of possible answers and told to choose more than one. In this case, they should read the question carefully to check how many answers are required.
|Task focus||Multiple-choice questions are used to assess a wide range of skills. The examinee may be required to have a detailed understanding of specific points or a general understanding of the main points of the listening text.|
Task type 2: match
|Task type and format||Test takers are required to match a numbered list of items in the listening text to a set of options in the question document. The set of options can be a criterion of some kind.|
|Task focus||Matching assesses the ability to hear details and whether a test taker can understand the information given in conversation on an everyday topic, such as different types of hotel or guesthouse accommodation. It also assesses the ability to follow a conversation between two people. It can also be used to assess test takers' ability to recognize relationships and connections between events in the listening text.|
Task type 3: plan, map, diagram labeling
|Task type and format||Test takers must complete the labels on a plan (for example, of a building), map (for example, of part of a city), or diagram (for example, of a team). Answers are generally selected from a list in the question document.|
|Task focus||This type of task assesses the ability to understand, for example, a description of a place and relate it to a visual representation. This may include being able to follow language that expresses spatial relationships and directions (for example, directly through the back door).|
Task Type 4: Form, Note, Table, Flowchart, Summary Completion
|Task type and format||
Test takers are required to fill in the gaps in a summary of part or all of the listening text. The outline will focus on the main ideas / facts of the text. It can be:
Test takers may have to select their responses from a list on the questionnaire or identify missing words in the recording, keeping to the word limit indicated in the instructions. Test takers must not change the words of the recording in any way.
Test takers should read the instructions very carefully as the number of words or numbers they must use to fill in the gaps will vary. A word limit is given, for example, 'NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND / OR ONE NUMBER'. Test takers are penalized for writing more than the stated number of words, and test takers must check this word limit carefully for each task. The contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.
|Task focus||This focuses on the main points that a listener would naturally register in this type of situation.|
Task type 5: completion of the sentence
|Task type and format||
Test takers must read a set of sentences that summarize key information from the entire listening text or part of it. Then they fill in a space in each sentence using the information from the listening text. A word limit is given, for example, 'NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND / OR ONE NUMBER'.
Test takers are penalized for writing more than the indicated number of words. (Test takers should check this word limit carefully for each task - the limit is ONE, TWO, or THREE words.) The contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words.
|Task focus||Sentence completion focuses on the ability to identify key information in a listening text. Test takers must understand functional relationships, such as cause and effect.|
Task 6: short answer questions
|Task type and format||Test takers must read a question and then write a short answer using information from the listening text. A word limit is given, for example, 'NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND / OR ONE NUMBER'. Test takers are penalized for writing more than the indicated number of words. (Test takers should check this word limit carefully for each task.) The contracted words will not be evaluated. Hyphenated words count as single words. Test takers are sometimes asked a question asking them to list two or three points.|
|Task focus||Sentence completion focuses on the ability to hear specific facts, such as places, prices, or hours, within the listening text.|
IELTS Listening: how it is marked
The hearing test is marked by certified markers, which are regularly monitored to ensure their reliability. All answer sheets, after being marked, are analyzed by Cambridge Assessment English.
Band score conversion
A band score conversion table is produced for each version of the listening test that translates scores of 40 to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.
A grade is awarded for each correct answer on the 40-choice test. Care must be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet, as misspelling and grammar are penalized.