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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondWherever you are in the world, the IELTS test you take will be the same. I'm going to talk a little bit now about what that test will look like. Over the next weeks of this course, we'll look in more detail at each part of the test and what you have to do. But today I'll give you an overview of the whole test so you can get the big picture. The first thing to note is that there are two modules to choose from, the academic module and the general training module. Which one's right for you depends on what you want to do. The academic module is mostly for people who want to study at university.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 secondsThe general training is mostly for people who want to either move to another country and need an English qualification to do that, or who want to study at a level below university. If you have a definite plan to use an IELTS qualification, be sure to check which one you need, academic or general training. Whichever module you take, you will be tested on all four language skills-- listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Everyone takes the same listening and speaking tests, but there are different reading and writing tests for the academic and general training modules. We'll look at both types during this course.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsYou do the listening, reading, and writing tests all on the same day, but the speaking test is on a different day. It could be before or after the other three parts. Let's start with the speaking test. This part of the test lasts for about 13 minutes and there are three parts. In the first part you talk about yourself, your family, your work, things like that. In the second part you'll be given a topic to talk about, and then some time to prepare yourself and then give your talk. In the third and final part, the examiner will ask some questions connected to the topic in part two.

Skip to 1 minute and 57 secondsWe'll talk about the speaking test in more detail in week two of this course. Now moving on to listening test, this part of the test lasts around 40 minutes, and you have to answer 40 questions that might be multiple-choice, note completion, matching, things like that. There are four sections, and you hear each section only once. We'll talk about the listening test in much more detail in week three of this course. So on to the writing test. As I said there are different modules for academic and general training, but either way, the test takes 60 minutes and there are two parts to the test, so you have to write two things.

Skip to 2 minutes and 41 secondsYou have to write at least 150 words for part one and at least 250 words for part two. The type of task depends on the paper. The academic paper gives you the sort of task you might have to do in university studies. We're going to talk in more detail about both academic and general training in weeks four and six of this course. Finally, the reading part of the test. Again there are different modules, but whether you're doing academic or general training, you'll have to answer 40 questions in one hour. These might be multiple-choice questions or matching parts of sentences or completing notes, things like that. There are three sections and different types of text.

Skip to 3 minutes and 33 secondsWe'll tell you more about them when we look at reading in much more detail on the course in week five. So that's the overview of the IELTS test. Four parts testing the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. And in this course we'll look at each of these parts in more detail to try to help you develop techniques to do well in each of them.

The IELTS test format

Watch Rob talk about the different parts of the IELTS test.

In the next step, you’ll answer some questions about the information he gives you here.

NOTE: Although Rob mentions that the Speaking test takes place on a different day from the other three parts of IELTS, in some centres you may do all four parts on the same day.

This video is from the free online course:

Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests

British Council

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: