top of page

All You Need to Know

The IELTS English language test is the most popular English test in the world with over 3 million candidates taking the official test every year and millions more studying to take it. It is often referred to as a “high stakes” English test because it can be life changing. Candidates usually need a target score to study, migrate, and take up employment or training in an English-speaking country.


What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System - IELTS - was launched in 1989 by three partners… the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.


Today it is the world’s most popular test of English language proficiency with over 3 million people taking it every year. It is developed and managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

IELTS is often referred to as a “high stakes” English test because it can be life changing. Candidates usually need a target score to study, migrate, and take up employment or training in an English speaking country. 

The IELTS test can be taken at British Council or IDP Test Centers in more than 140 countries and in over 1,200 locations. 

IELTS tests are developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment (the co-owner of IELTS along with the British Council and IDP). English language specialists are commissioned to write the tests which are pre-edited, edited and revised if necessary. 


Once test items are approved, they are pretested (trialed) by groups of IELTS students around the world. Cambridge English Language Assessment then analyze the results and approve the test items.


Listening and Reading test items are then trialed again with IELTS students around the world to make sure they have a consistent level of difficulty. Then finally, they are used in live tests.


IELTS is a task-base test divided into 4 components - Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. The total test time for General Training and Academic modules is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes. 


The listening, reading and writing tests are held on the same day, with no breaks between them. The speaking test for paper based IELTS can be up to one week before or after the other tests.


However, if you take Computer Delivered (CD) IELTS, the speaking test is on the same day as the other components. Your test center will inform you when you are scheduled for your speaking test.

Total-IELTS Courses & Services

We offer a wide range of courses and services to help you prepare for the IELTS exam, Academic & General Training. Our experienced teachers will guide you through the process provide you with the tools you need to succeed. 

IELTS Information
IELTS Speaking Feedback Service

Click on the Meet The Team button to view our teachers' profiles.

IELTS General Training and Academic Modules

There are 2 versions or modules which are IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The reason why you are doing the IELTS test determines which module you should take.

IELTS Academic Module focuses on academic language and tests if candidates are ready for studying or training abroad. It is suitable for people wanting to enroll in higher education institutes such as university or college and professional who want to study or practice in an English language speaking country.

IELTS General Training Module focuses on social and workplace language and skills. It is suitable for people migrating to Australia, UK and Canada and those wanting to enroll in secondary education. It is also suitable for those wanting to enroll in training programs and work experience in an English language speaking country.

For the tests themselves, the Listening and Speaking test are the same for Academic and General Training in terms of content, timing, topics and question types, but there are differences in the reading and writing tests.

For the Reading tests, both General Training and Academic modules have 3 parts and exactly the same question types and timing, that’s 1 hour for each. For the Academic Reading test, there are 3 descriptive or argumentative texts that are increasingly more difficult.

For the General Training Reading test, part 1 is “social topics” and contains up to 5 short texts on social topics giving factual information (notices, schedules etc.). Part 2 is “workplace topics”, usually 2 texts that that give information (company policies, workplace facilities etc.).

For both General Training and Academic reading modules, part 3 is a descriptive or analytical text.

For task 1 Academic writing, you are asked to write a report based on a diagram and the are many different diagram types.

Whereas for General Training writing task 1, you need to write a letter, either formal or informal, based on the instructions

Writing task 2 is the same for both General Training and Academic modules.

Watch our video about which IELTS test partner, British Council or IDP, to register with for your official test.

IELTS Grading & Results

IELTS Score Calculator

Your overall band score is defined by IELTS as….

IELTS Information

IELTS & CEFR Equivalents

IELTS Information

For more information about  IELTS and the CEFR…

There is no pass / fail grade for IELTS and each component (listening, reading, writing and speaking) is graded from bands 0 – 9.

Each component is equally weighted. The band scores for each component are then averaged and rounded up or down to the nearest whole or half band. For example…

Watch our video about how to achieve your IELTS target score.

Computer Delivered (CD) IELTS

The Computer Delivered or CD IELTS test is nothing new. In fact, it’s been available for a few years now and both the British Council and IDP offer Computer Delivered (CD) IETLS tests along with the paper-based one.

With the CD test you can take all 4 components on the same day. The ListeningReading and Writing tests are taken on computer. The face-to-face Speaking test and the Test Report Form are the same for paper based and CD IELTS tests. 

For the Listening, Reading and Writing components, there’s no difference between CD and paper-based tests in terms of timing, grading, length of validity, content, question types and security arrangements.​ With the CD test you can get your results within 5-7 days. Each candidate takes a different test on the computer.

For those of you who like the reassurance of paper and pencil for making notes, test centers do provide these but most candidates reported that they didn’t actually need them.​ Both the British Council and IDP have CD IELTS familiarization guides and free practice tests available on their websites. Some Test Centers offer hands-on practice sessions to familiarize candidates on navigating the CD test.


CD IELTS Listening

  • All candidates use their own headsets so there are no distractions with speaker quality or noisy neighbors. You can highlight key works in questions on the screen.

  • You type or select the answers as you listen. At the end of each section you have 30 – 60 seconds to check your answers. Once you’ve answered, a line appears under the number in the navigation bar and unanswered questions have a circle around them

  • There is no 10 minute answer transfer time at end of test as there is no answer sheet. You have 2 minutes at the end of section 4 for a final check.


CD IELTS Reading

  • You can highlight key words in the questions and the texts.

  • You can make notes in the text and an icon will appear in the place where you made notes.

  • The text and the questions appear side by side on the screen.

  • Any unanswered questions are highlighted in different shape so they are easy to find when you’re doing the final check.

  • All answers are saved on the computer so there is no answer sheet.


CD IELTS Writing

  • The task and section where you type your answer appear side by side on screen.

  • There is an automatic word count displayed on the screen so there’s no need to count every individual word.

  • Your answer can be edited but no there is no spell checker.

  • Poor handwriting is no longer an issue.

  • Typing ability has been a concern expressed by some candidates. However, feedback from those who have taken the computer test says that you need moderate rather than advanced typing skills. In fact, many candidates reported that they finished ahead of time.


CD IELTS Overall

  • Feedback from CD IELTS candidates has been generally positive. 

  • Many reported that the Test Center was less crowded and more organized. For those who have experienced the paper based IELTS test, there can be 100 + candidates in the center at one time and it’s often difficult to get the invigilator’s attention.

  • CD IELTS offers a lot more test dates with some test centers offering the test 3 times a week.

  • Faster results were well received.

  • If there is a technical problem during the test, the invigilator can decide to stop the clock while it’s being fixed. 

  • For each section there is a help button, which gives general information and instructions and how to navigate the test and complete the task.

  • There were some concerns expressed about screen fatigue because of two and a half hours on screen with no break.

  • There were issues about noise levels with everyone typing at the same time.

  • A lack of online CD practice tests is an issue but some test centers offer free CD practice sessions that focus on navigating the test


CD IELTS Familiarization and Practice 

  • Before opting for the CD IELTS, it’s essential that you practice the navigation. Both the British Council and IDP offer free CD practice tests on their websites.

  • For CD IELTS test practice materials…

Watch our video about the Computer Delivered IELTS Test

Total-IELTS Ebooks. Click the Pics to go to our Ebooks page

IELTS Academic Writing Sample Answers
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
IELTS Vocabulary
IELTS General Training Writing Sample Answers
bottom of page