Updated on 23-05-2023


IELTS Syllabus 2023 - Section-wise syllabus

IELTS Syllabus 2023 - Section-wise syllabus

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language proficiency test taken by aspirants who want to study, work or migrate to abroad. IELTS mainly has two types - Academic and General Training. The IELTS syllabus contains four sections: writing, reading, listening, and speaking. For both the academic and general test versions, the listening and speaking sections will be the same while the reading and writing sections will be different.

Non-native English speakers who are aiming to study abroad or seeking professional opportunities need to showcase a high band score in the IELTS test. Many top universities and colleges prefer a band score of 7 and above to proceed with admission. If you want to achieve a desired IELTS band score, then as an initial step, you need to know the IELTS syllabus for both academic and general training in detail. In this article, you will get to know the IELTS exam syllabus along with the marking criteria, question types, duration, marks, word limit, the purpose of the test, topics involved, and others.

Table of content

Types of IELTS

The IELTS exam contains two types, IELTS academic and IELTS general training. Before knowing the IELTS syllabus, let's first know about the types in detail.

IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test is conducted for candidates who want to study higher education or do professional registration in countries that use English as a fundamental language. This test is to assess the student's English language proficiency for academic purposes and skills such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand accept IELTS scores for studies. The total duration of this test is 2 hours 45 minutes.

IELTS General Training

The IELTS general training test is taken by aspirants who want to get into secondary school and training programs in English-speaking countries. This test is also applicable to applicants who want to gain work experience or immigrate to countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Candidates' skills like listening, reading, writing, and speaking will be tested in this general training test. This test will analyze your skills on the basis of the social and workplace environment.

IELTS Syllabus 2023 - Overview


The four sections of the academic and general training tests will be the same but the exam pattern for both these tests will differ slightly. Know the questions, duration, marks, and band descriptors from the table.

Sections Description Number of questions/Duration Marks Band Descriptors/Band score
Listening It contains four recordings including 2 conversations and 2 monologues related to the social and academic context. 40 questions/30 minutes 1 mark per question 0-9 band scale
Reading Three reading passages with different question types each of which is sourced from books, journals, etc. 40 questions/60 minutes 1 mark per question 0-9 band scale

Task 1: 150-word essay based on the given chart, map, diagram, or letter. Task 2: 250-word essay based on the given situation.
2 tasks/60 minutes Both writing tasks 1 and 2 are evaluated separately. Task 2 has more weightage than Task 1
  • Task Achievement (Task 1), Task Response (Task 2)
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
Speaking Part 1: Personal interview
Part 2: Task Card
Part 3: Structured discussion
3 parts/11-14 minutes
  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

Check the complete IELTS exam pattern in detail.

Section-wise IELTS exam syllabus

The IELTS exam syllabus for both academic and general training contains four sections. Let's look at the detailed syllabus of the following four sections.

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking

IELTS writing

The IELTS writing test varies for both academic and general training tests. There are two tasks involved in the IELTS writing test. Task 1 is a 150 words essay, asked to describe the given graph, table, chart, or diagram in your own words or respond to the given situation. In Task 2, you need to write a 250-word essay by responding to a view, argument, or problem. The total duration of the IELTS writing test is 60 minutes.

IELTS academic writing

In the IELTS academic writing you need to attempt two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2 which contain topics of general interest. This test is suitable for test takers who want to do undergraduate or postgraduate courses in abroad universities or get professional registration.

IELTS academic writing task 1

In academic writing task 1 you need to write a 150-word essay in 20 minutes. You will be presented with visual information such as a map, chart, graph, diagram, or table and required to describe, summarize or explain in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works, or describe an object or event.

IELTS academic writing task 2

In writing task 2, you need to write a 250-word essay providing your viewpoint and opinion for the given question. The response needs to be in a formal style. Task 2 needs to be completed in a 40-minute time period. The questions can be in the form of agree/disagree, advantage/disadvantage, problem/cause and solution, discuss both views, and two-part/double question.

IELTS general writing

Similar to academic writing, the IELTS general writing test also carries two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2 which come with general interest topics.

IELTS general writing task 1

In the IELTS general writing task 1 you will be given a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter can be in the form of formal, informal, or semi-formal. The letter needs to be written in at least 150 words. The time limit for completing this task is 20 minutes. This task will assess your ability to follow the English letter-writing conventions.

IELTS general writing task 2

In this test, you’ll be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem. You need to write a 250-word essay in 40 minutes. The essay needs to be in a personal style. This task will assess your ability to follow the English discursive writing conventions.

IELTS reading

The IELTS reading section contains three texts of general interest topics which test students who wish to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The IELTS reading test is different for both academic reading and general reading. Both reading modules involve three passages or sections with 40 questions that need to be completed in 60 minutes.  In this test, a wide range of reading skills such as reading for gist, main ideas, detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, and recognizing writers' opinions, attitudes, and purpose are tested. 

IELTS academic reading

The IELTS academic reading contains three long texts which can be descriptive, factual, discursive, and analytical. The texts may also contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs, or illustrations. The paragraphs are sourced from books, magazines, journals, and newsletters. The passages are taken for non-specialist audiences for candidates seeking higher education or professional registration. 

IELTS general training reading

The IELTS general training test contains three sections in which the passages are taken from notices, advertisements, newspapers, magazines, books, company handbooks, and guidelines. You might come across the texts on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment. The sections involved in the test are: Section 1 (social survival) contains shorter texts including two to three texts, Section 2 (workplace survival) contains two texts and Section 3 (general reading) contains a long text.

IELTS reading question types
  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Identifying information
  • Identifying the writer’s views/claims
  • Matching information
  • Matching headings
  • Matching features
  • Matching Sentence Endings
  • Summary completion
  • Note completion
  • Table completion
  • Short-answer questions
  • Sentence completion
  • Diagram label completion
  • Flow-chart completion

IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening test pattern is the same for both academic and general types. The listening test contains four parts with ten questions each. The first two parts will be based on social context and the other two parts are related to education. You’ll need to listen to the audio and then answer the questions within 30 minutes. You’ll also be given a 10-minute time period to transfer the answers to the answer sheet. The audio contains a range of accents that can be played only once. The four recordings you need to listen to are:

  • Recording 1 -  a conversation between two people that is related to the social context.
  • Recording 2 - a monologue speech that carries a topic of everyday basis i.e a speech about local facilities.
  • Recording 3 - a conversation between four people which can be related to the educational basis.
  • Recording 4 - monologue speech on an academic basis, it may be a lecture.

IELTS listening question types

The listening question types are listed below:

  • Multiple choice
  • Matching
  • Plan labeling
  • Map labeling
  • Diagram labeling
  • Form completion
  • Note completion
  • Table completion
  • Flow-chart completion
  • Summary completion
  • Sentence completion

IELTS speaking

The IELTS speaking test format will be the same for both academic and general training tests. The IELTS speaking test is a face-to-face oral interview session that analyzes your spoken English skills. This test involves three parts including an introduction, cue card, and follow-up discussion. The test will be conducted for 11-14 minutes and recorded for evaluation.

Part 1 (Introduction and Interview)

In this Part 1, the examiner will ask you to introduce yourself. Then you will be asked questions related to general topics like hobbies, home, family, work, and studies. The examiner will analyze your communication, sentence structure, word usage, and vocabulary. Speaking part 1 will be conducted for 4-5 minutes. 

Part 2 (Long turn)

IELTS speaking part 2 which is a long turn session conducted for 3-4 minutes including a 1-minute preparation time. The examiner will give a cue card and ask you to talk about a particular topic, need to include key points to talk about and explain one aspect of the topic. You will be given a pen and paper for note-taking. In the task card, you’ll be instructed the points that you need and need not follow. The test will focus on analyse your language and organize ideas coherently.

Part 3 (Discussion)

Speaking part 3 is a discussion round where you’ll be asked follow-up questions for the discussed topic in part 2. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. Speaking part 3 will last for 4-5 minutes.

IELTS syllabus pdf

To help the aspirants, we’ve compiled the entire syllabus of IELTS in a pdf format. 

Download the IELTS syllabus pdf

10 Key Points of IELTS syllabus

  1. There are two types of IELTS tests: Academic and General Training.
  2. The IELTS test contains four sections namely listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The listening and speaking sections are similar for both tests, but the reading and writing sections vary for both academic and general.
  3. IELTS academic reading involves three passages with a total of 40 questions that need to be answered in 60 minutes.
  4. IELTS general training reading contains three sections with 40 questions which need to be completed in 60 minutes.
  5. IELTS academic and general writing contains two tasks - Task 1 and Task 2. The duration to complete the writing task is 60 minutes.
  6. IELTS academic writing task 1 is a 150-word essay that can be written by analyzing the given visual representation (graph/table/chart/diagram) in 20 minutes.
  7. IELTS general writing task 1 is required one to write a 150-word essay in the form of formal, informal, or semi-formal letters for the given situation within 20 minutes.
  8. IELTS writing task 2 requires to respond to a viewpoint, argument, or problem in 250 words. For academic tests, the response must be in a formal style, and for general training tests, it can be in a personal style.
  9. IELTS listening contains four recordings (conversations and monologues) which are based on everyday social context and academic basis. The total number of questions involved is 40 which needs to be completed in 30 minutes plus 10 minutes of transfer time.
  10. IELTS speaking involves three parts. Part 1 is an introduction and interview session which lasts for 4-5 minutes. Part 2 is a long-turn round that requires you to talk about the topic that is given in the task card for 3-4 minutes. Part 3 is a discussion round where you’ll be asked questions related to the topic of Part 2 which takes 4-5 minutes.


1. What is the syllabus of IELTS?

The IELTS syllabus contains a total of four sections: Writing, Reading, Listening, and Speaking. For the two IELTS test types i.e. Academic and General Training, the reading and writing sections will be different while the listening and speaking sections will be similar for both test versions.

2. How can I prepare for the IELTS exam?

Following are the IELTS preparation tips you need to consider:

  • Understand the exam syllabus completely
  • Create a preparation plan
  • Conduct frequent practice and mock test
  • Record your speaking test
  • Take the test in the preferred mode
  • Listen to the audio once to answer the questions
  • Practice writing within the word limit
  • Understand the question types of each section

3. What are the 4 skills in IELTS?

The four skills in the IELTS test are reading, listening, writing, and speaking. 

4. Is IELTS Speaking recorded?

Yes. The IELTS speaking test will be recorded for the purpose of evaluation. However, you’ll be assessed by the examiner on the test day itself.

5. Is there maths in IELTS? 

No. IELTS is an English language test conducted for people who are willing to study, work or immigrate to English-speaking countries.

6. What are the best IELTS preparation books?

The best IELTS preparation books are as follows.

  1. The Official Cambridge guide for IELTS
  2. Barron’s IELTS Superpack
  3. IELTS Practice Tests Plus 2 with key and CD Pack Paperback
  4. IELTS 15 Academic Student's Book with Answers with Audio with Resource Bank
  5. Target Band 7: IELTS Academic Module
  6. Road to IELTS
  7. IELTS Book for General Training and Academic 2021-2022: [Includes Audio track access]
  8. Check Your English Vocabulary for IELTS
  9. Official IELTS Practice Materials 1 with Audio CD
  10. IELTS Trainer Six Practice Tests with Answers and Audio CDs (3) (Authored Practice Tests)

7. Is the IELTS difficult to pass?

No. The IELTS test is not difficult to clear even at the first attempt, all you need is a proper preparation plan and more practice.

8. Can I prepare for IELTS at home? 

Yes. You can prepare for IELTS at home with the resources that are available on the internet. If you’re seeking expert mentoring, you can also get that by taking any online coaching.

9. What is the pass mark for IELTS? 

There is no pass or fail mark in IELTS. The IELTS test is validated on a scale of 0-9, where 1 is the lowest score and 9 is the highest band score. This score is applicable for evaluating each section of the IELTS and calculating the overall score.

10. What is the age limit for IELTS?

The minimum age limit to take the IELTS test is 16 years. The maximum age limit is not specified by the British Council and IDP.

11. How many attempts are there in IELTS? 

There is no limit to the number of attempts you can take for the IELTS test.

 12. Is a passport required for IELTS?

Yes, a passport is mandatory for the IELTS test. You need to carry the passport with you on the test date to the exam center as it will be your proof of identification.

13. How many test takers are there in India?

Nearly 1.3 to 1.4 million IELTS test takers are there in India.

14. Who accepts IELTS?

The IELTS test is accepted by more than 11,000 organizations including universities, colleges, employers, immigration departments, and professional bodies worldwide.

15. Is there any order to complete the IELTS test?

Yes. For IELTS on paper, the test will be conducted in the order of Writing, Reading, Listening, and Speaking. For IELTS on computer, the test will be held in the order of Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.


About Author Arivarasi

Arivarasi is an experienced author with expertise in the study abroad industry and preparing test materials for exams like IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, SAT, PTE, etc. She stays up-to-date with university and college requirements for international students which allows her to provide guidance on course selection, documents like SOP, LOR, and scholarship opportunities. She has written numerous articles on study abroad exams, destinations, universities & colleges requirements, admission procedures, and the entire process of studying abroad. Collaborating with industry experts and counselors, she crafts informative articles that make students take the right decisions.

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Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.

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