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Starting young: A student browsing study modules for IELTS.
Starting young: A student browsing study modules for IELTS.


Details on the style of questions and how to register for the International English Language Testing System

We have already discussed the essential content of IELTS, including the tasks in the different modules. We would now indicate further aspects of the test and the mechanics of registration.

Style of questions

•Reading test

The reading test in either format (general training and academic) takes 60 minutes. There are 40 questions based on three reading passages with a total of 2,000 to 2,750 words. Texts and questions are shown on a question paper. You may write on it. But the answers have to be entered on the answer sheet.

In general training reading, texts are drawn from notices, advertisements, official documents, booklets, newspapers, instruction manuals, leaflets, timetables, books and magazines. IELTS mentions three sections — social survival; training survival; and general reading.

These are understood better by going through questions than through abstract discussions. You will appreciate this point as you practice for the test.

In academic reading, texts are taken from magazines, journals, books and newspapers. The contents are of general interest type, no specialist knowledge is required for reading the texts. There may be logical arguments, diagrams or charts. If there are technical terms, there will be a simple glossary as well.

•Writing test

Out of the 60 minutes, you may set apart 20 minutes for Task 1 with 150 words and 40 minutes for Task 2 with 250 words. Answers have to written on the answer sheet given. Do not go for brief notes or bullet points. You have to write the answers in full. Remember, it is a test of writing.

In general training writing, there are regular patterns for the two tasks. In Task 1, you have to respond to a given problem with a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. Your ability for certain specific tasks will be evaluated. Some of these are engaging in correspondence, eliciting or providing information, explaining your needs or opinions through a letter.

In Task 2, you are given a problem, a point of view or an argument. You have to offer a solution for the problem, justify a view, question an argument or supply information. The topics will be so general that a candidate from any background can handle them.

In academic writing also there are fixed patterns for the two tasks. In Task 1 you have to give an interpretative description of some information furnished in the form of a diagram, graph or table. Your ability for various aspects of writing will be evaluated. How well you describe the steps in a procedure and sequences of events is significant. The organisation and presentation of your write-up will be examined carefully.

In Task 2, you are given an argument, a problem or a point of view. You have to question an argument, offer a solution for the problem, justify a view or supply information. The topics will be so general that a candidate seeking admission to an undergraduate or postgraduate programme will have no difficulty in handling them.

•Speaking test

You have to sit face to face with the examiner for an oral interview for 11 to 14 minutes. The interview is divided into three parts.

Part 1: Duration: 4-5 minutes. The examiner and the candidate introduce themselves. This is followed by questions on simple topics such as your home, family, interests and so on. Bear in mind that you are not being tested for knowledge of any subject. How naturally and easily you speak is significant.

Part 2: Duration 3-4 minutes. You will be asked to speak for two minutes on a topic. You may take a minute for preparation. Then you speak. The examiner will then ask a question or two which you should answer.

Part 3: Duration 4-5 minutes. You have to discuss further on the topic you handled in Part 2. The discussion may assume an abstract dimension. The examiner will raise questions as part of the discussion.

The assessment in the speaking test is based on fluency; continuity; speech rate; coherence and logical sequencing of sentences; marking of stages in a discussion; narration or argument; vocabulary; grammatical correctness; and pronunciation.

Test scores

IELTS gives scores on a band scale from 1 to 9. A score is reported for each test component. The individual test scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an overall band score. Individual test scores and overall band scores are reported in whole and half bands. The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from expert user to non-user. The candidates receive scores on a band scale from 1 to 9.

9 - expert user; 8 - very good user; 7 - good user ; 6 - competent user; 5 - modest user; 4 - limited user; 3 - extremely limited user; 2 - intermittent user; 1- non user; and 0 - did not attempt the test. The scores are normally treated to be valid for two years.


The test can be taken at various centres including Bangalore, Kozhikode, Chennai, Kochi, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Kottayam, Madurai, Mangalore, Puducherry, Mumbai, New Delhi, Thrissur, Tiruchi, Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayawada and Vizag.

For registering online, we can visit the websites; or

The test may not be held at all centres every month. But the candidate can arrange the schedules conveniently by typing his or her desired month for the test and confirming the availability at the desired centres. A sum of Rs.7,200 has to be paid towards fee.

Further information on registration can be had from the website at the time of registration.

The scores will be sent to the candidate’s address after two weeks of the test.

Details of registration can also be obtained from British Council, Chennai. Contact address: IELTS Administrator, British Deputy High Commission, 737 Anna Salai, Chennai-600 002; Ph: 044-4205 0600; email:; web:www.britishcouncil.

The list of educational consultants and training institutes across India which serve as IELTS registration centres for the British Council is available on the website

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