Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Your test day

What to expect on your IELTS test day.
When you’re called into the test room, the invigilator will check your identification then direct you to a seat. Your watch, mobile phone and any other electronic devices will be kept outside the test room along with any other personal belongings. You can’t take any food or drink in, apart from water in a transparent bottle, so make sure you eat before the test! The invigilator will explain the format of the test and the order in which the components will appear. They will then hand out the question papers and answer sheets for the listening test.
If your test centre uses headphones, the invigilator will then give you full instructions on how to use them and how to adjust the volume.
The invigilator will then give instructions for this part of the test, making sure you write your name and candidate number on the question booklet and answer sheet, before starting to play the audio.
Before each part of the test starts, you have time to look through the questions. Make sure you read the instructions carefully and underline key words or phrases that will help you identify the answer.
You’ll only hear the audio once, so it’s important that you note down the answers as you listen. Don’t worry if you miss something or are not sure of the correct answer, note down what you can, then go on to the next question. You’ll have time at the end to transfer your answers, and you can think about any missing questions then. You’ll hear the answers in the same order as they appear on the question paper.
In both the listening and reading sections there are several different types of questions, as we explain during the course. These include things like labelling diagrams, sentence completion, multiple choice and more. So it’s very important to read the instructions carefully each time.
At the end of the Listening test you have ten minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Remember spelling and grammar are important here, so make sure you check your answers carefully. At the end of 40 minutes, the invigilator will tell you to stop writing and will collect your papers. So, we will now do the Reading test. Now I will give you the question booklet and the answer sheet for the reading.
Next, you have one hour for the reading test, where you will read three texts and answer forty questions. Unlike the Listening test, you don’t have time to transfer your answers at the end of the reading test, so you must write them directly onto the answer sheet as you go through the questions.
The final part of the written section of IELTS is the writing test. The invigilator will explain that there are two different writing tasks and that you have to make sure you use the correct answer sheet for each task. They will then hand out the answer sheets and question papers. You have one hour for this part of the test.
Make sure you read the questions very carefully and underline any key words. There are two tasks, and you should allow 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. As we discuss in the course, analysing the questions and planning carefully are very important and should help to reduce any time needed for changing or rewriting the text. If you do need to change part of your writing or correct mistakes, just use the eraser. That is the end of the Writing test. Please stop writing, put down your pens, pencils and erasers and close the question booklet.
So, please do not talk to other candidates while we are collecting the question booklets and the answer sheets.

When you do your IELTS test you will do the Listening, Reading and Writing sections all in one day, without a break. Watch the video to find out more about what to expect, then read the advice below.

Getting to the test centre
Before the day of your test, check the start time of your IELTS test and make sure you know how to get to the test centre on time. The last thing you want is to arrive feeling rushed or stressed, so it’s a good idea to plan your route in advance and even visit the test centre in the days before your test is due.

Arriving for your IELTS test
Make sure you’ve read and understood IELTS test terms and conditions as they contain important information about your test day. These can be found in the Test Takers Information part of your application form.

If you arrive late to your IELTS test, you might not be allowed to participate. Turn off your mobile and any other electronic devices. These will be kept outside the test room along with other personal belongings.

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests take 2 hours 40 minutes altogether. There are no breaks. You can’t bring food or drink into the test room, apart from water in a transparent bottle, so make sure you have breakfast before you go!

Your identity documents
IELTS staff will check your identity upon your arrival. If you arrive without the correct ID you will not be able to take the test. For security purposes, IELTS staff will also take a photograph of you before you sit the test. This is the photo that will appear on your Test Report Form. In some countries, you may also be asked to provide a finger scan.

During your test
You are only allowed to have a pencil, pen, your ID, and an eraser on your desk. If you want to ask a question during the test, or if you need to use the toilet, put your hand up to attract the invigilator’s attention so you don’t disturb other test takers.

When it’s time to take the Listening test, check that you can hear the recording clearly. If you can’t, raise your hand and inform the invigilator. After the Listening section, you will have 10 minutes to fill in the answer sheet. However, you do not get any extra time after the Reading section, so be sure to write your answers on your answer sheet as you work through each section.

At the end of the test
Stay in your seat until the invigilator gives you permission to leave the test room. If you believe that your performance may have been affected by any issues, inform the invigilator straight away. If you want to make a complaint about your test day, you must do this within one week of the test date by filling in the Complaint Form.

Special arrangements
If you requested special arrangements as a result of a disability or other condition, adjustments will be made for you on the day of your test. You can find out more about this here.

Finally, keep calm, try to relax and do your best!

This article is from the free online

Understanding IELTS: Reading

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now