IELTS Exam Pattern - Check section wise Test Pattern, Marking Scheme, Duration

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Shilpa Saxena
Jun 30, 2022 8:42 PM IST

IELTS Exam Pattern

There are two types of IELTS tests i.e IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and each of them comprises four sections including listening, speaking, reading and writing sections, which are the basis for analysing the proficiency level of the candidates in the English language. IELTS Scores are accepted by thousands of leading universities across the world including Auburn University, Arizona State University, University of Oxford, Middlesex University Dubai, and many more.

The listening and speaking section follows the same exam pattern for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. However, the reading and writing sections follow a different pattern. The  Listening, Reading and Writing sections are conducted on the same day whereas the speaking section can be completed up to a period of seven days before or after the other tests. Overall, IELTS Academic consists of a total of 82 questions plus an oral interview under the speaking section.

On this page, you will be able to find the differences in the exam pattern and other important details regarding the IELTS 2022 exam pattern.

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Highlights of IELTS Exam Pattern

Given in the table below are some of the major highlights for IELTS 2022 Exam Pattern.


4: Speaking, Reading, Listening and Writing

Total Duration

2 hours and 45 minutes

Number of Questions

82 + an oral interview

Score Range


Mode of Exam

On Paper and On Computer

Section-wise IELTS Test Pattern

As mentioned above, there are four sections of the IELTS exam namely reading, writing, listening and speaking. The time duration of each section is different.  Let us have a look at the four sections of the IELTS exam and their IELTS test pattern:


Duration (minutes)

Marks Per Question


Around 30 (+10: transfer time)







Reported in whole and half bands



Reported in whole and half bands

While the Listening and Speaking sections of IELTS 2022 follow the same pattern for both IELTS Academics and IELTS General Training, there is a slight variation in the exam pattern for the Writing and Reading section.

IELTS Academic VS IELTS General Exam Pattern

The IELTS Academic and IELTS General exam patterns are both different and the same. Test-takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests in both IELTS Academic and General Training but different Writing and Reading tests.

The IELTS listening test consists of four recordings where two conversations and two monologues are played only once. They are based on everyday context, education topics or academic subjects. Multiple choice, matching and sentence completion are some types of questions asked in the listening exam.

The IELTS speaking test is also the same for both IELTS General and IELTS Academic where there is a face-to-face interview with an IELTS examiner. Here, test-takers need to give a personal introduction, speak from cue cards and hold a discussion with the interviewer.

In the IELTS General reading test, extracts from general or common topics are given whereas in IELTS Academic reading test topics are descriptive or factual. The types of question asked are the same which includes multiple choice questions, identifying information, matching information and sentence completions.

In IELTS General writing section, letters and essays are given while IELTS Academic features diagrams and essays. The tasks are of 20 and 40 minutes each. IELTS Writing Task 1 is 150 words whereas IELTS Writing Task 2 is 250 words.

These are the few differences between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Exam Pattern that can be found.

IELTS Type of Questions

The four sections of the IELTS contain a variety of questions. While the listening and reading tasks contain 40 questions each, the writing task has two questions and the speaking test contains 3 questions. Let us look at the IELTS question types asked in the IELTS test.


Total Number of Questions

Types of Questions



Matching, MCQs, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, plan/map/diagram labeling, sentence completion



Identifying information, MCQs, matching information, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching headings, matching sentence endings, matching features, sentence completion, note completion, table completion, diagram label completion and short-answer questions, summary completion, flow-chart completion



Task I: Describing visual information (graph/table/chart/diagram) in own words (150) in 20 minutes

Task II: Add own point of view or argument or problem in 250 words in 40 minutes



Oral interview with the examiner

Task I: Personal introduction

Task II: Speaking from cue cards

Task III: Discussion with interviewer

IELTS Listening Section

In the listening section for IELTS 2022, candidates need to listen to recordings and answer questions based on the recordings. The recordings can be heard only once before the questions are asked.

The IELTS Listening section comprises four parts. Since January 2020, the word section has been replaced by parts. Each part of the IELTS listening action comprises 10 questions. Hence, the total number of questions in the listening section totals 40 questions.

The first two parts of the listening section of IELTS are set on everyday situations.

Part 1: In part 1, there will be a conversation between the two speakers.
Part 2: In part 2, there is a monologue.

In the final two parts, the situation will be set in educational and training contexts.

Part 3: In part 3, there will be a conversation between the two main speakers.
Part 4: In part 4, there will be a monologue on an academic subject.

Following are the highlights of the IELTS listening section:

IELTS Listening Section


30 minutes

Number of Questions

40 (10 in each part)



Type of Questions

Multiple Choice


 Plan, map, diagram labelling

 Form, Note, Table, Flow-chart, Summary Completion

Sentence completion

Short-answer questions

Total Marks

10 (1 for Each Question)

IELTS Academic Reading Section

The IELTS Academic Reading section consists of 40 questions based on three different reading paragraphs. The duration for the IELTS Academic reading section is 60 minutes and questions are asked in various formats like multiple choice questions, identifying information, matching information, matching headings, matching sentence endings, matching features, sentence completion, summary completion, flow chart, diagram labelling etc.

The following table shows the highlights of IELTS Academic Reading section:

IELTS Academic Reading Section


60 minutes

Number of Questions


Type of Questions




Total Marks

40 (1 for each question)

IELTS Academic Writing Section

The IELTS Academic Writing Section consists of 2 questions. In the IELTS writing first question, candidates need to describe visual information in the form of lines, graphs, charts, tables, diagrams, or bar graphs which should be completed within 20 minutes. In the second question, candidates need to respond to an argument or a point of view or a problem by writing an essay

The following table shows the highlights of the IELTS Academic Writing section:

IELTS Academic Writing Section


60 minutes

Number of Questions


Type of Questions




Total Marks


IELTS Speaking Section

The IELTS Speaking Section consists of 3 parts. Candidates need to describe a piece of visual information in the form of graphs, tables, charts, or diagrams. It should be noted that the duration for each part and the speaking topic varies and also. Part 1 needs to be answered in 11-14 minutes, part 2 needs to be answered in 4-5 minutes, including the preparation time and Part 3 should last for 4-5 minutes. The following table shows the highlights of the IELTS Speaking section:

IELTS Speaking Section


60 minutes

Number of Questions

19 - 24

Type of Questions

Introduction and interview, Long turn and Discussion



Total Marks


IELTS Indicator (Online Home Test)

The IELTS Indicator option is available for students who wish to take the test at home and submit the score for admission purposes at universities abroad. However, the IELTS Indicator test is not a substitute for the in-person IELTS test and the test taker may have to take the in-person IELTS test at an IELTS test center.

Here are some key points to know about the IELTS Indicator 2022 Exam Pattern:

  • IELTS Indicator can be taken at home and is a session-based online test.

  • The Exam pattern for IELTS Indicator is similar to the in-person IELTS in terms of the content, test structure, and time allocated.

  • IELTS examiners score the IELTS Indicator and therefore, is as reliable as other options.

  • However, candidates cannot expect the same quality and security procedure in an IELTS Indicator test as seen in the in-person format of IELTS.

Have Queries About IELTS Exam Pattern?

FAQs on IELTS Exam Pattern

What are the types of questions asked in the IELTS Reading section?

There are 10 types of questions asked in the IELTS Reading section are:

Multiple-choice questions Completion of the summary
Information identification questions It has matching features
Information matching Matching sentences ends
Sentence completion Matching information
Head Matching Short answer questions

What is the IELTS exam passing band score?

The IELTS exam total band score is the average of all parts added together. The IELTS exam is graded on a scale of 0 to 9. There is nothing like passing or failing when it comes to evaluating a candidate's linguistic abilities. However, each university abroad has its specific IELTS cutoff, which a candidate needs to meet in order to seek admission. 

How is the IELTS Speaking Section Analysed by the examiner?

IELTS Speaking Section’s examiners analyse your performance based on four factors including fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical variety and correctness, and pronunciation. Your Speaking results are presented as band scores ranging from 0 to 9. Each whole and half band score represents a level of English proficiency. Candidates will receive a certificate on completion of the IELTS Speaking section based on the Introduction, Interview and Discussion of the test.

Is the syllabus for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training the same?

The listening and speaking sections follow the same syllabus for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The Academic and General Training IELTS Writing and Reading assessments are not the same. The Academic test will include themes relevant to anybody enrolling in a university or a professional institution. The General Training exam will cover subjects of general interest.

Is the exam pattern of IELTS Indicator similar to IELTS Academic?

The exam pattern for IELTS Indicator is similar to the in-person IELTS in terms of test structure, time and content of the test. IELTS Indicator is a session-based online test that may be completed from the comfort of one's own home. In terms of content, format, organisation, and scheduling, the test is identical to IELTS. It is graded by qualified IELTS examiners, so you can be confident that it will provide a trustworthy estimate of your IELTS test result.

What are the types of questions asked in the IELTS Writing Section?

There are two questions asked in the IELTS Writing Section, wherein a candidate is required to describe visual information presented in the form of graphs, tables, charts or diagrams. IELTS Writing Task 2 questions are divided into five categories: agree/disagree, advantages/disadvantages, two-part, cause/solution, and discuss both sides.

Is it possible to get a full score in IELTS?

Yes, it is possible to get a full score in IELTS. Each of the four abilities on which a candidate is tested, namely speaking, reading, writing, and listening, is assigned a unique score band that ranges between the same. Finally, you will receive a consolidated band score for your whole exam, which will indicate your overall language skill.

Has the IELTS exam pattern changed in 2022?

No, the IELTS exam pattern has not changed in the year 2022. However, the IELTS Online Test (IELTS Indicator) went live in early 2022. Although it has the same material and format as the existing paper-based and computer-delivered IELTS exams, it will be held on a purpose-built secure remote proctoring test platform.

How many sections are included in IELTS?

The IELTS exam includes four sections: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. While the listening and speaking parts are the same for all, the reading and writing components for the General Training and Academic IELTS are distinct. 

  • Reading: 40 Questions and 60 minutes

  • Writing: 2 Questions and 60 minutes

  • Speaking: 3 Questions and 11-14 minutes

What is the total duration for the IELTS test?

The total duration of the IELTS exam is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Listening, Reading, and Writing components of the IELTS exam are done on the same day, with no interruptions in between. The Speaking component, on the other hand, can be done up to a week before or after the other examinations. 

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