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IELTS Syllabus

Written by  Piyush Bhartiya

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read

IELTS Syllabus

Written by  Piyush Bhartiya

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read

IELTS Syllabus 2020

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an exam taken by students in order to prove their proficiency in the English language. This is taken by people who want to migrate, work or study in some country and require to prove their proficiency in English. It is of two types – IELTS Academic and IELTS General. IELTS tests reading, speaking, writing and listening to skills and so the IELTS syllabus for all these are discussed below.

IELTS Exam Syllabus

Syllabus for IELTS covers all the different test sections. All the 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 Syllabus

IELTS General

IELTS General training is the test taken to prove proficiency in the English language when going for secondary education, work experience or in some cases, migration. A general syllabus has been mentioned above. IELTS General and IELTS Academic differ only in reading and writing sections depending on the requirements. The reading and writing syllabus for IELTS General Training is mentioned below.

  • The candidates have to read extracts from books, newspapers, company handbooks, notices etcetera. This is very important for reading General IELTS.
  • It has 3 sections. The third section contains one long passage. The rest contain passages or different excerpts.
  • These are mostly general stuff that one may encounter in an English speaking environment.
  • The passages have to be read thoroughly followed by questions that have to be answered.
  • Two essays, one of 150 and another of 250 words, are to be written within 60 minutes.
  • The 150-word essay is generally a letter or something explaining a situation and proving points.
  • The other essay requires a proper structure along with relevant and grammatically correct content.

IELTS Academic

Academic IELTS is taken by students seeking admission for higher studies or any other professional registration. The listening and speaking part is the same for both and is mentioned above. However, the slight difference in reading and writing parts are mentioned below.

  • The reading section comprises passages that are generally factual or analytical and are taken from books, magazines and journals.
  • It has 3 reading passages with many task types.
  • The topics are general that are understandable by students getting admitted to undergraduate courses.
  • The 150 words writing task will consist of a chart, graph or picture which has to be described and analysed.
  • The second task is an essay generally a response to an argument and stating a point of view 

IELTS Exam Pattern and Syllabus

The different sections of the test and IELTS pattern are discussed in the table below.





4 recordings – 2 monologues and 2 conversations

10 questions based on each recording

30 minutes


2 essays – one of 150 words another of 250 words

60 minutes


  • Interview
  • Speaking on a topic for up to 2 minutes
  • Follow up questions and discussion of ideas related to the speech

11 – 14 minutes


3 sections having passages

Total 40 follow up questions

60 minutes

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.


1. What is the syllabus for the IELTS exam?

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.

2. How can I prepare for the IELTS exam?

There are many books available for preparing for IELTS. One can refer to any of them for passing the exam. More reading and practising speeches are recommended.

3. What is the eligibility for IELTS?

The minimum age allowed is 16 and the candidate must have a valid passport.

4. What is the passing score for IELTS?

A score of band 7 is excellent. Different institutions, corporations and countries require different scores.

5. Is IELTS difficult to pass?

IELTS is a tough exam for which preparation is required. With apt preparation, it can be passed easily. Students who have completed education from an English medium school can pass this without much difficulty.

About the Author & Expert


Piyush Bhartiya

author • MBA • 2 years

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.