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Section Wise IELTS Exam Pattern 2024 - Question Types

Updated on 14 December, 2023

Anupriya Mukherjee

Anupriya Mukherjee

Sr. Content Writer

ielts exam pattern

The IELTS exam pattern encompasses four major sections, i.e. listening, speaking, writing, and reading. Aspirants have to appear for the listening, reading, and writing portions of the examination on the same day itself, without any breaks between the sections. The speaking test may be scheduled within a period of seven days either before or after the test date. It is mostly slated for the afternoon of the day of the examination. The local IELTS test center will be reaching out individually to aspirants, notifying them about the location and date of the speaking test.

IELTS Exam Pattern: Better Understanding

IELTS exam sectionsListening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking
Total time2 hours and 45 minutes
Total questions82 questions along with a three-part interview (Speaking Test)
Total score0-9
Sub SectionsIELTS Reading: Academic/General Training, IELTS Writing: Academic/General Training
Exam typePaper/Computer-based, Face-to-face interview for speaking


IELTS Exam Pattern: Duration, No. of Questions, Scores & Types of Questions

Exam Section


No of questions

Question type


Listening40 minutes


MCQ, matching, labelling plan/map/diagram, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion1 mark /question
Reading60 minutes


MCQ, identifying information, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching information/headings/features/sentence endings, sentence/summary/note/table/flow-chart/diagram label completion, short-answer questions1 mark per question
Writing60 minutes


Describe graph/table/chart/diagram, essay-writing, and letter-writingDirect band score
Speaking11-14 minutes

3 parts

Questions on general topics, speaking on a specific topic, questions on the specific topicDirect band score


IELTS Academic Exam Pattern

The IELTS Exam Pattern and time duration for IELTS Academic is illustrated in the table mentioned below:

SectionQuestion TypeDuration (in Minutes)
Listening Test
  • a conversation between two individuals in an everyday social setting
  • a conversation between people (two or more) in an academic setting
  • a monologue or a speech
  • a monologue on an subject related to academics or simply a lecture



Three different paragraphs with questions like 

  • MCQs,
  • Identifying information, 
  • matching information, 
  • matching sentence endings,
  • matching features, 
  • matching headings,
  • sentence completion,
  •  flow chart, 
  • summary completion, 
  • diagram labeling, and so on


  • Task 1:  You need to describe or summarize the information depicted in a graph, table, chart, stages of a process, or a diagram 
  • Task2: You need to write formal and academic-style essays expressing your point of view in response to the given argument or problem and support your response with suitable examples.



Part 1 (4 to 5 mins): General questions about the candidate, familiar things like home, family, work, studies, and interests 

Part 2 (4 to 5 mins): The test-taker is given a task card with the prompts. A minute is given to prepare his speech. A candidate is asked to speak for two minutes on the topic mentioned on the task card

Part 3 (4 to 5 mins): Examiner asks more questions based on the candidate’s response in the second part. Test-taker gets an opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.


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IELTS General Exam Pattern

The IELTS Exam Pattern and time duration for IELTS General training is illustrated in the table mentioned below:

SectionQuestion TypeDuration (in Minutes)
ListeningSame as IELTS Academic 


  • Section 1 consists of two or three short texts 
  • Section 2 consists of two texts
  • Section 3 consists of one long text



Task 1: Write a personal, semi-formal, or formal style letter explaining a given situation or requesting for information.

Task 2: Write a personal style essay expressing your opinion of a particular problem/argument and substantiate your response with suitable examples.



Part 1 (4 to 5 mins): General questions about the candidate, familiar things like home, family, work, studies, and interests 

Part 2 (4 to 5 mins): The test-taker is given a task card with the prompts.

A minute is given to prepare his speech. A candidate is asked to speak for two minutes on the topic mentioned on the task card

Part 3 (4 to 5 mins): Examiner asks more questions based on the candidate’s response in the second part. Test-taker gets an opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues



Let us discuss each section about the IELTS Academic and IELTS General training in detail.

Recommended Reads:

IELTS EligibilityIELTS RegistrationIELTS Syllabus
Academic IELTSIELTS Band ScoreIELTS Writing Task 1
IELTS Writing Task 2IELTS Slot BookingIELTS Band Score Chart


IELTS Exam Pattern- Listening Test 

The IELTS exam structure encompasses the Listening Test. This will require around 30 minutes. You will also get an additional 10 minutes in the end for transferring your answers to your final answer sheet. The listening test is similar for both IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic modules. You will be listening to four recorded monologues, texts, and conversations by native speakers. You will thereafter have to write answers to multiple questions. 

This will include questions testing the capabilities of candidates to understand key concepts/ideas along with extensive factual data and the attitudes/opinions of the speakers. The test will also examine the ability to understand what is stated and its purpose and ability to follow ideas and their development. Several accents and voices of native speakers are used. Every section can be heard just once. 

The four sections of the Listening test are as follows:

Section 1- Conversation between two individuals set in a regular social context.

Section 2- Monologue set in a regular social context.

Section 3- Conversation among four individuals in a training/educational context.

Section 4- Monologue on any academic topic/subject.

The recordings will cover British, New Zealand, Australian, Canadian and American accents. 

Multiple question types are used for the test, selected from the following:

  1. Form/Table/Note/Flow-chart summary
  2. Diagram labeling
  3. Matching
  4. Map/plan/diagram
  5. Multiple choice
  6. Sentence completion

Answers have to be written on the question paper by aspirants while listening and they get 10 minutes in the end for transferring the same to their answer sheets. Take care during this process since there are penalties for poor grammar and wrong spelling. Every question is worth one mark. 

IELTS Exam Structure: Reading Test 

As part of the IELTS exam format, aspirants will take the Reading test for around 60 minutes. This section will come with 40 questions and several question types are deployed for testing reading abilities. These cover reading for main ideas, gist, and detail, understanding logical arguments, recognizing attitudes, purpose, and opinions of writers, and skimming. People who are not proficient in English can go through IELTS exam pattern papers to get an idea. The Reading section is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

IELTS Academic Reading Test

This test encompasses three longer texts, ranging from factual and descriptive tests to analytical and discursive ones. The texts are sourced from books, magazines, journals, and newspapers and are suitably appropriate for those enrolling in postgraduate/undergraduate courses or looking for professional registration. Several types of question types apply, covering identification of writer claims/views, matching headings, matching information, matching features, completing sentences, matching endings of sentences, completing summaries, completing notes, completing flowcharts, completing tables, labelling diagrams, and short-answer questions. Texts and passages may be written in numerous styles including descriptive, narrative, or argumentative/discursive. At least a single text has extensive logical arguments while texts may also have non-verbal materials like graphs, illustrations, and diagrams. A glossary is given in case texts have technical terms. 

Test aspirants will have to transfer answers to their answer sheets within the time allotted for the entire examination. No extra time is provided. Every question is worth one mark. 

IELTS General Training Reading Test

This test will have three paragraphs with specific tasks and you will have to read extracts from magazines, books, notices, advertisements, newspapers, guidelines, and company handbooks. Question types cover information identification, multiple choices, identification of writer claims/views, matching features, headings, and sentence headings, completing sentences, summaries, tables, notes, flow charts, and diagram labels along with short-answer questions. 

Social survival is the first section which has texts that are relevant for linguistic capabilities, majorly about retrieval and provision of general factual data like timetables and advertisements. Workplace survival is the second section, emphasizing the workplace as the context. The third section was general reading and this involves reading extended prose with a structure that is more complex. The emphasis is clearly on instructive and descriptive texts. Aspirants should transfer answers to the answer sheet within the test time allotted. Extra time is not provided.

Important Resources to Read About IELTS:

IELTS Writing Task 1 AcademicIELTS Last Minute TipsIELTS Academic Reading
IELTS Speaking Test formatHow IELTS Exam is ConductedIndian Education System Essay
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1IELTS Academic ExamIELTS General Writing Tips Task 2
MBA in Germany Without IELTSHow to Improve IELTS Score from 6.5 to 7IELTS Speaking Tips


IELTS Exam Format- Writing Test 

The writing test is an important part of the overall IELTS exam structure. It covers 60 minutes and the following two sections encompassed within the same:

IELTS Academic Writing Test Pattern

This has two tasks and topics that are suitable for those getting entry into undergraduate/postgraduate studies. The first task will have aspirants getting a table, graph, chart, or diagram, and you will have to summarize, describe or explain data in your own words. You may be asked to explain and describe data, stages of any process, how something functions, or even write an event/object. The second task includes writing an essay as a response to any particular argument, point of view, or problem. Formal writing styles are needed for both tasks, covering 150 words (20 minutes) and 250 words (40 minutes) respectively. 

Answering should be on the official answer sheet and it should be fully written. Bullet points or notes are not acceptable in the form of answers. Test aspirants may write on the question paper itself although this may not be taken from the examination hall and will not be examined.

IELTS General Training Writing Test Pattern

Topics of general interests are covered in this test, spanning two tasks-

1. You will get a particular situation, being asked to write a letter which requests information or explains any particular situation. This may be a personal, semi-formal, or formal letter.

2. You will have to write an essay responding to any particular argument, point of view, or problem. This essay may have a more personalized style of writing.

Answers should be fully written in the answer booklet. Bullet points or notes will not be acceptable. You can write on the question paper itself although you cannot take this away from the examination hall.

IELTS Speaking Test Pattern

This test will require 11-14 minutes in total. It is the same for both IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic. The Speaking Test is a face-to-face interview that will assess your command of spoken English and its usage. Each test will also be recorded. This has three parts in total. 

The first part carries general questions about family, home, studies, interests, work, and yourself which you need to answer. This part will cover 4-5 minutes. The examiner will introduce himself/herself, check your identity, and then proceed to ask these questions. This part emphasizes your capabilities of communicating information and opinions related to regular topics and sharing common experiences. 

In the second part, you will get a card and you have to discuss a specific topic. You will get one minute to prepare before speaking for a maximum of two minutes. The examiner will then ask one to two questions about this topic and finish off this portion. You can make notes on the paper provided. You can use points written on the card during preparation. This test will emphasize the ability of candidates to speak comfortably on a topic without any prompts. Coherence and organization of ideas will also be examined. 

In the third portion, you will be asked some additional questions on the topic covered earlier. These questions will give you ample scope for speaking about ideas, concepts, and issues that are more abstract. This will cover 4-5 minutes. This test examines your capabilities to justify your opinion, express yourself and analyze, speculate or discuss several aspects/issues.

Know More:

IELTS Band Score ChartHow to get 8 band in IELTSTypes of IELTS Exam
Average IELTS ScoresIELTS Score for USAStudy in USA Without IELTS
Study in UK Without IELTSIELTS Reading Band ScoreIELTS Bar Graph
Writing Task 1 Line GraphCollocation for IELTSIELTS Reading Tips


Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

ielts sample essays

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the IELTS Exam Pattern?

The IELTS paper pattern is divided into test sections – Listening, Speaking, Writing, and Reading. Each section has several types of questions and tasks.

Why is the IELTS important?

IELTS is important because the language test scores are used as proof of English proficiency by individuals seeking work and education in English-speaking countries.

Is the IELTS difficult to Pass?

No. IELTS is not very difficult to pass but it requires a fair amount of practice for people who are not proficient in English.

What is the Passing Score of IELTS?

There are no pass or fail scores in the IELTS. It has nine-band scores and the score requirement varies across countries and institutions.

Is the IELTS Exam Pattern Changed?

There are no recent changes in IELTS. The test pattern got some minor changes on January 4, 2020. Only the IELTS Listening format was tweaked slightly.

How many IELTS Test Report Forms (TRFs) can You get?

Only one IELTS TRF is issued to every candidate which is valid for two years. A copy of your TRF would be issued to you in case you are applying to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and two copies would be issued if you are applying to the UK border agency (UKBA).

What are some important tips to achieve a good IELTS score?

You need to consider the following points if you want to achieve a good IELTS score:

  1. Get familiar with the IELTS test pattern
  2. Practice, Practice, and Practice
  3. Focus on pronunciation while speaking
  4. Write one essay daily and avoid repetitions in sentences
  5. Focus on Time management skills
  6. Enhance your vocabulary by learning new words daily
  7. Break the monotony by introducing various writing styles, variations in the usage of words, and tone moderations.

What is the IELTS exam Pattern Scoring Process?

The IELTS exam employs a nine-band scale to clearly assess a candidate’s English language proficiency levels. As per the IELTS paper pattern, a score is assigned for each test component (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) which is then averaged and rounded off to obtain an Overall Band Score (OBS).

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Anupriya Mukherjee

Sr. Content Writer

Anupriya Mukherjee is a passion-driven professional working as a Content Marketer and earlier worked as a Digital Marketeer. With around 6 years of work experience, she has experience creating high-quality, engaging content for websites, blogs, news articles, video scripts, brochures, and ebooks.

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