IELTS Syllabus 2021

Updated by: Neha Kumari on Aug. 12, 2021, 1:40 p.m.

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IELTS Syllabus

The IELTS Syllabus is divided into 4 sections: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. The Syllabus is designed systematically to analyse a candidate's command over the English language in all aspects. As the format of the IELTS Syllabus is comprehensive and transparent, the IELTS Test Score is widely accepted by leading universities like DePaul University, Harvard University, George Mason University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hoftsra University etc. 

Candidates should try their best at scoring well in all four sections so that they can meet the overall IELTS score requirement and section-wise IELTS score requirements of a specific university. To score well in an IELTS test, candidates must prepare well for IELTS based on the latest IELTS syllabus and IELTS Exam Pattern

 IELTS test is conducted in two formats:

  • IELTS Academics

  • IELTS General Training

Both the test is divided into four sections: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. The Listening and Speaking syllabus is the same for both IELTS Academics and IELTS General Training but the syllabus for the Reading and Writing section varies.  Hence, candidates must prepare according to the type of IELTS test they plan to take. 

Detailed syllabus of IELTS can be checked here: 

Need Expert Guidance on IELTS Preparation?

Also Read:

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Highlights of IELTS Syllabus

Details in the table below are some of the major highlights for the IELTS 2021 Syllabus:

Parameter

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Listening

Total 

Parts / Number of Tasks

3 Paragraphs (40 questions)

2 Tasks

3 Parts

4 Parts

-

Duration

60 minutes

60 minutes

11–14 minutes

30 minutes

2 hours and 45 minutes

Marks

Each question carries 1 marks

Scored out of nine IELTS bands

Scored out of nine IELTS bands

Each question carries 1 marks

-

IELTS Listening Syllabus

In the IELTS Listening section, candidates will be asked to attempt 4 parts, wherein, each part contains a recording. Candidates need to listen to the recording and answer the questions that follow. Varied types of questions are asked such as multiple-choice, map, diagrams, tables, flow charts, summary, matching etc. Know detailed IELTS Listening Syllabus here:  

Format of IELTS Listening Section

The format of the IELTS Listening Section is depicted below: 

Number of Recordings

4

Duration

30 minutes (10 minutes transfer time)

Marking 

1 mark for each correct answer

Number of  Questions

40 (10 in each part)

      Part 1 (Audio 1)

An audio recording in which a conversion between two people in an everyday social context will be included.

 Part 2 (Audio 2)

An audio recording with a monologue set in an everyday social context will be included.

 Part 3 (Audio 3)

A conversation between people up to four, set in an educational or training context will be included.

Part 4 (Audio 4)

An audio recording with a monologue on an academic subject will be included.

Type of Questions in IELTS Listening Section

Following are the details of the types of questions asked in the IELTS Listening Section: 

 Multiple Choice Questions 

  • After listening to the recording, the test taker will have to attempt MCQs that has three options each

  • The candidate will have to mark one correct answer for each question. For each correct answer, he/ she shall be awarded 1 mark. In some cases, there is a possibility of choosing more than one correct answer

  • Instructions on answering the questions shall be mentioned at the beginning of the questions. Hence, the candidates should follow the instructions carefully. 

  • Test takers are required to have a detailed understanding of audio to answer questions on MCQs

Matching

  • The test taker will have to match the numbered list of items to a set of questions in context to the audio

  • These questions are used to determine the ability of the candidate to understand and interpret facts after listening to audio

Plan, Map and Diagram Labelling

  • Test takers are required to complete labels in a diagram, map or plan

  • Questions asked in this part is used to determine the visual representation of the candidate and abilities to interpret relationships and directions

 Sentence Completion

  • The candidate needs to read a set of sentences that summarises audio and then complete the sentence as per the information interpreted from the audio

  • Word limit is defined to complete the sentence

  • This part is used to determine the abilities of the test taker to identify key points from audio. The test taker must have the abilities to understand functional relationships like cause and effect

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

  • The test taker will have to fill in the gap in an outline of all of the listening text. The outline focuses on the main ideas/ facts in the text

  • The test-takers will have to select answers from a list on the question paper or identify the missing words from the recording

  •  Word limit is set in instructions

  • These questions are used to analyse the abilities of candidates to focus on main points while listening to any recording

IELTS Academic Reading Syllabus

The IELTS Academic Reading section includes three reading passages. The passages are generalised and are taken from books, journals, newspapers and magazines. Candidates need to read the passages and answer the questions related to them to demonstrate their reading skills.  

The format of the IELTS Reading section is as follows: 

Parts  

3 Passages  

Duration 

60 minutes 

No. of Questions 

40 

Marks 

1 mark for each correct answer 

Type of Questions in IELTS Reading Section

Following are the types of questions asked in the Academic Reading section:

  • Multiple Choice

  • Identifying Information

  • Identifying writer’s views/claims

  • Matching Information

  • Matching Headings

  • Matching Features

  • Matching Sentence Endings

  • Sentence Completion

  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

  • Diagram Label Completion

  • Short-answer Questions

Also Read: Best Countries to Study and Work in 2021

IELTS Academic Writing Syllabus

The IELTS  Academic Writing Section consists of two tasks. Topics covered in the IELTS Writing section is of the general interest of students getting enrolled in undergraduate or postgraduate courses professional courses. The format of the IELTS Writing Section is as follows:

Task 

2

Duration 

60 minutes 

Task 1

Candidates need to describe, explain or summarise data, processes or events presented through charts, tables, graphs or diagrams

Task 2

Candidates need to write an essay in response to a view, problem or argument.

Note: Candidates must write the answers in a formal format in both tasks.

How is IELTS Writing Section Scored? 

Know how the IELTS Writing Section scored here: 

  • Each of the two tasks of the IELTS Writing section is assessed independently. Task 2 carries more weight in marking than Task 1

  • IELTS Writing Section is analysed by certificated IELTS examiners

  • The score of the IELTS Writing section is either a whole number or half on a scale of 1 to 9

 Various criteria that are taken into account while assessing both tasks of the IELTS Writing Section is as follows: 

  • Task achievement (Task 1)

  • Task Response (Task 2)

  • Coherence and Cohesion (Task 1 & Task 2)

  • Lexical Resource (Task 1 & Task 2)

  • Grammatical range and accuracy (Task 1 & Task 2)

IELTS Speaking Section Syllabus

The IELTS Speaking Section consists of 3 parts. Al three parts are designed to analyse the spoken English proficiency of the candidate. Answers to each part of the IELTS Speaking Section is recorded for assessment. The format and type of questions asked in the IELTS Speaking Section is explained below:

Parts 

Oral Interview (3 Parts) 

Duration   

11–14 minutes

Part 1 

The examiner asks general questions about the candidate and things associated with him/ her like family details, studies, interests, home and work etc. 

Part 2 

The examiner asks the candidate to pick up a card and speak on the topic mentioned on the card. The examiner will also ask one or two questions related to the topic.

Part 3

The examiner asks further questions related to the topics in Part 2. This gives the candidate an opportunity to discuss more and provide abstract ideas and issues.

How is IELTS Speaking Section Scored? 

Know how the IELTS Speaking Section scored here: 

Each part of the IELTS Speaking section is assessed independently by certificated IELTS examiners who are approved by the British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia.
The score of the IELTS Speaking section is either a whole number or half on a scale of 1 to 9

Various criteria that are taken into account while assessing IELTS Speaking Section is as follows: 

  • Pronunciation

  • Fluency and coherence

  • Lexical resource

  • Grammatical range and accuracy

IELTS Syllabus FAQs

1. What are the main topics covered in IELTS 2021 exam?

There are no specific topics defined under any of the sections of the IELTS 2021 test. The Reading section of IELTS 2021 includes random generic paragraphs based on which MCQs are framed. The paragraph can be from a book, journals, magazines, newspapers etc. In the Writing section, candidates will again be asked to write an essay on general topics. The listening section contains audio clips and for the Speaking section will ask the candidates to speak on certain generic topics as well, asked by the examiner on the day of the test.

2. Are there any changes in the IELTS 2021 Exam?

No, there are no changes in the syllabus of the IELTS 2021 Exam. However, a new format of IELTS is being introduced named as IELTS Indicator has been introduced for candidates to attempt the test at home.

3. What is the syllabus for the IELTS Reading section?

The reading section of IELTS 2021 contains paragraphs that may be taken from books, journals, newspapers, magazines, new research etc. Based on these paragraphs, candidates will be asked to attempt cerrtain MCQs. 

4. What is the syllabus for the IELTS 2021 Writing Section?

For the IELTS 2021 Writing sections candidate will have to submit two write-ups based on the general interests of the student.

5. What is the IELTS 2021 Writing section scored on?

The IELTS 2021 Writing section is scored out of nine bands.

6. How is the IELTS Speaking section scored? 

The IELTS 2021 Speaking section is scored out of nine bands.

7. Is there any negative marking for incorrect answers in the IELTS Reading Section?

No, there is no negative marking for incorrectly answering any questions under the IELTS 2021 Reading section.

8. What is the duration for the IELTS speaking section?

The IELTS speaking section should last for a duration of 11–14 minutes.

9. Is there any specific topics to prepare for in the IELTS writing section?

There is no specific topic to prepare for in the IELTS writing section. It contains two tasks for candidates to write on topics, usually of general interest of students.

10. Are the topics for IELTS speaking section predefined?

No, the topics for the IELTS 2021 speaking section is not pre-defined. In the first part, the examiner will ask general questions. Meanwhile, in the second part, candidates will have to speak on any topic mentioned on the card picked up and in the third part, the examiners ask further question on the same topic.

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