A Complete Break Down of an IELTS Exam (Part 1)

ByInderjeetat Scotia Gateway
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To gain a Canadian visa, you will need to demonstrate your English abilities to immigration and IELTS- International English Language Test System is one of the world’s most popular high-stakes English language tests.

It is the English test of choice for educational organisations, professional associations and employers across Canada. All universities and colleges in Canada accept IELTS, as well as all professional associations that have set minimum language requirements for professional registration.

IELTS assesses your English proficiency on a scale of 1-9 in four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. You have a choice of two tests – IELTS Academic and IELTS General training depending on the requirements set by the organisation where you plan to work or study.

Modes of IELTS

There are two modes in which one can give the exam, one is computer-based and the other one is paper-based.

Who conducts the exam?

IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment through more than 1,100 test centres and locations in over 140 countries.

Evaluation of the exam

The total score is counted as the arithmetic mean of the four section scores. If the overall score ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, for example, the overall score of 6.25 means a band score of 6.5, and if it ends in .75 it is rounded up in the next whole band, for example, the overall score of 6.75 means a band score of 7.

How to prepare for IELTS

Preparing for your IELTS is an important part of the process. The first step towards the preparation for the exam is to become familiar with the test format. Once you are aware of the test format, You know what to expect in each section making it easier for you to attempt your questions. Let’s discuss the four sections in detail below.


The Listening, module takes 40 minutes: 30 min for testing and 10 min for transferring your answers to the answer sheet.

There are 40 questions in the Listening module, with 10 questions in each section. Sections get increasingly difficult.

IELTS Listening consists of four sections:

Section 1: A conversation between 2 speakers about everyday situations. This is the easiest section. Speaker talks quite slowly, making pauses. The key information is usually repeated.

Examples: Two people talking about their journey planning; one person asking another how to reach an unknown city; a woman giving advice to her colleague about a new project; two men discussing the results of a football match; tourist registering at the hotel etc.

Section 2: A monologue about everyday situations.
Speaker talks quite slowly but makes fewer pauses than in the previous section.

Examples: Information for potential buyers about new-built flats, radio interview about the lake resort, an advertisement about the positive effects of a new toothbrush etc.

Section 3: Conversation between 2, 3 or 4 speakers about educational or training situations.

This section is harder than the two previous, speakers discuss topics at a faster pace and sometimes use advanced vocabulary.

Examples: students talking about a class assignment, people discussing a professor’s academic speech etc.

Section 4: A monologue on an academic subject.

It is the most difficult section. There is no break in the middle, the speaker talks quite quickly and uses a wide range of vocabulary.

Examples: lecture about endangered species, talk on bringing up children subject, speech about global warming and its effects, lecture about forest reserve etc.

You will be given about 30 seconds to study the questions before the start of each section. The listening section is the same for both the Academic and the General IELTS.

Types of questions in IELTS Listening:

• Multiple choice
• Short-answer questions
• Sentence completion
• Notes, summary, plan, diagram, table or chart completion
• Labelling a diagram that has numbered parts
• Classification
• Matching

How to ace this section?

Improve your general listening skills

The goal of the IELTS Listening section is to test your listening skills. Don’t use practise tests to improve your score: it’s not enough! They will help you to become familiar with the test, but won’t much improve your listening abilities. It is much more effective to do various listening exercises, listen to general listening materials (radio reports, TV shows, documental programs etc) and only after that do IELTS Listening practice tests.

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