IELTS Syllabus

PBPiyush Bhartiya
Updated OnJan 29, 2023

IELTS Exam Syllabus

The syllabus for IELTS covers all the different test sections. All four sections are covered in the syllabus. IELTS Academic and IELTS General training have the same speaking and listening parts, only the reading and writing syllabus varies. The general syllabus is mentioned below.

  • Listening: It has conversations and monologues which the candidates are allowed to listen to once. After that, they have to answer questions related to the conversation/monologue that they heard and do so in a limited time.
  • Reading: In the reading section, passages are given that may include charts/diagrams. Candidates have to carefully study the passages and diagrams and answer related questions.
  • Writing: This section comprises two writing tasks. One task has a word limit of 150 words and the other has a limit of 250 words. 
  • Speaking: In this, candidates have to sit in a face to face interview. They have to answer questions, speak on something they know about and have structured discussions.

IELTS Exam Sections

The IELTS exam is divided into 4 parts: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. Students will complete the listening, writing, and reading sections on the same day, one by one, without any breaks. The speaking assessment is typically scheduled in the noon on the exam day, although it can be planned up to seven days in advance or afterwards. The local IELTS testing centre will contact students to confirm the date & location of their speaking exam.

IELTS Reading

It will take roughly 60 mins to complete the IELTS reading assessment. There are 40 questions in this section. Many question formats are used to assess a wide variety of reading abilities. Reading for gist, key ideas, detail, skimming, comprehending logical argument, & recognizing writers' viewpoints, attitudes, & intent are all included in this section.

Academic: The Academic Reading assessment consists of 3 long texts ranging from descriptive & factual to analytical & discursive. These were chosen for a non-specialist readership but are suited for anyone starting undergrad or postgrad studies or pursuing professional registration. The contents are genuine and extracted from publications, journals, periodicals, and newspapers.

General Training: 3 passages with assignments are included in the General Training reading exam. It necessitates reading extracts from publications, periodicals, newspapers, notices, ads, business handbooks, & guidelines. These are the kinds of resources you're likely to come across regularly if you reside in an English-speaking country.

IELTS Writing

The IELTS Writing exam will last 60 minutes & will consist of two mandatory tasks.

Academic: There are 2 tasks in the Academic Writing exam. The contents are of wide interest & are appropriate for anybody beginning undergrad or postgrad study or pursuing professional registration.

Task 1: Students will be given a graph, chart, table, or diagram & asked to explain, summarise, or describe the material in their own words. Students may be required to describe & explain data, process stages, how something functions, or an item or event.

Task 2: Now, this task requires students to produce an essay in reply to a viewpoint, argument, or issue. Both activities need replies to be presented in a formal style.

General Training: The writing portion of the General Training exam consists of two tasks focused on general subjects of interest.

Task 1: Students will be given a problem and must compose a letter asking for information or describing the circumstance. The letter might be informal, formal, or semi-formal in tone.

Task 2: This task will require students to produce an essay reaction to a viewpoint, argument, or issue. The essay may be written in a little more personal tone than that of the Academic Task 2 essay.

IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening exam will last around 30 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for transferring the answers to the response sheet. The listening exam is the same in both the Academic & General modules of IELTS.

Students will listen to 4 taped monologues, text, & chats by a variety of native speakers & respond to several questions. This would include questions that assess the capacity to grasp primary concepts & detailed factual data, the ability to comprehend the viewpoints & attitudes of the speaker, the intent of what is stated, and the capability to follow the progression of ideas.

1st Section: A talk between 2 people in a common social setting, such as a chat in a lodging agency.

2nd Section: A monologue in a real-life social environment, such as a lecture about local amenities.

3rd Section: A discussion between up to 4 persons in a training or educational setting, such as a university professor & a student discussing assignments.

4th Section: A monologue about an academic topic, such as a university lecture.

IELTS Speaking

The IELTS speaking exam will last 11-14 minutes, and the test is similar for General training & Academics.

The Speaking exam is an interview (face-to-face) that lasts 11-14 minutes. The test is intended to measure your ability to communicate in English. All of the tests are recorded.

Task 1: Students will be asked a general question about themselves as well as a variety of familiar themes like your home, parents, career, education, and interests. This section lasts 4 to 5 minutes.

Task 2: Students will be handed a card & asked to speak on a certain topic. Before presenting for up to 2 minutes, students will have 1 minute to prepare. To complete this section of the examination, the examiner will ask you 1 or 2 two things on the same topic.

Task 3: Students will be given more questions about the topic covered in Part 2. Such questions allow you to address more complex ideas and issues. This segment lasts 4 to 5 minutes.

IELTS Exam Pattern

The IELTS test is available in 2 formats: Academic & General Training Exam. Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking are the 4 parts of the IELTS test pattern. These 4 sections are used to assess the applicants.

The following table will help you to understand the IELTS exam pattern:



Question & Duration


It includes 4 monologues & chats that have been taped.

4 Question, 30 Minutes


There are 3 passages with tasks. Texts vary from descriptive & factual to analytical & discursive content comprises nonverbal material such as graphs, diagrams, and pictures.

40 Questions, 60 Minutes


A 150-word writing exercise in which the person must summarise, explain, or describe a graph, table, diagram, or chart, and a 250-word essay task.

2 Questions, 60 Minutes


The interview consists of brief questions, a lengthy discussion of a known topic, as well as a structured conversation.

3 Questions, 11-14 Mins

IELTS Syllabus Book

There are a plethora of books available for the IELTS test that thoroughly follow the syllabus for IELTS. The best IELTS books are mentioned below.

  • The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  • Target Band 7: IELTS Academic
  • Ace the IELTS: IELTS General
  • Barron’s IELTS
  • Cambridge English: IELTS 11 Academic

Some of the online study materials and books can be of great help to students preparing for IELTS.

IELTS Academic vs General

There are some differences between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

IELTS Academic

IELTS General Training

It is taken to prove English language proficiency in an academic environment.

It is needed for proof of English language proficiency in day to day context.

It can be taken for studying undergraduate or postgraduate level.

It is needed for studying anything below degree level like secondary education.

It can be taken by people seeking a job in English speaking countries.

People wanting to migrate to another English speaking country are required to take this.

It can only be used for academic purposes.

It is also used by some multinational companies as proof of English language proficiency.


Que. What is the syllabus for the IELTS exam?

Ans. The exam tests four sections. There is no hard and fast syllabus for this but the pattern is fixed and candidates prepare accordingly. The syllabus and pattern have been mentioned above.

Que. Which section of the IELTS test is the hardest?

Ans. There's no exact answer because, according to some polls, the Writing portion is the most difficult & difficult element of the IELTS. In this section, applicants are evaluated on various elements in addition to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The band score for the writing module varies from 5 to 8.

Que. How can I modify the date of the Speaking test?

Ans. Because the speaking exam date is created by the system, it can't be changed.

About the Author
Piyush Bhartiya
Study Abroad Expert & Co-Founder @ AdmitKard
Piyush values education and has studied from the top institutes of IIT Roorkee, IIM Bangalore, KTH Sweden and Tsinghua University in China. Post completing his MBA, he has worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group and focused on building sales and marketing vertical for top MNCs and Indian business houses.