Table of Contents

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System, better known by its abbreviation IELTS is a standardize English proficiency test. This test is usually meant for non-native English speakers for the purpose of migrations, studies or work. IELTS is jointly managed by British council and Australia’s International Development Program (IDP). IELTS is one among other international English language proficiency exams in the world. Some of the other English proficiency tests include:

  • Test of English As a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Duolingo (DET)
  • Password English Language Test
  • Pearson (PTE Academic)


In order for you to have an IELTS certificate, you are required to take the IELTS test or the IELTS exam. This IELTS exam is usually divided into four sections, with each of them scored on forty (40). Another thing worth noting, is the fact that even though these sections are scored on forty, they are graded differently for the various IELTS types. The different sections of the various IELTS test types are usually graded differently from one another. These IELTS types include IELTS Academic, IELTS General Training test types. In case you would like to learn more about the calculation of the overall IELTS band score, you can read the article linked above. The four sections of the IELTS test include:

  • IELTS Writing
  • IELTS Reading
  • IELTS Speaking, and
  • IELTS Listening

The score distribution for each of these four sections is discussed in details in the article cited above.

Now, in order for you to write the exam, first things first, you have to get registered for it, so that is going to be next thing we’ll be talking about.

IELTS Registration

In order for you to book for an IELTS exam session, you need to have a proper identification document of yourself (assuming you are the test taker). In addition to an identification document, the IELTS booking procedure also requires that you have an online payment card which will be used to pay your registration fees. Once both these items have been made available, the next thing you would want to do is to check for the availability of an IELTS test center around your area, and pick a test date for your IELTS exam. Usually, the test date for the IELTS speaking section is a different date from the date you pick for the other sections of the test.

IELTS Test Centres

One of the first steps during the IELTS registration process involves you picking an available IELTS centre. We emphasize on the fact that the centre has to be available. This is because some centres might be unavailable on certain dates. This is especially to be taken note about during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein the centres can only have a number of candidates at any given time. You can be able to check for the list of available centres around your area from the British council official website for your country, or you could use their main official website to check for IELTS Test Centres.

IELTS Exam Dates

Depending on the IELTS exam centre you choose, you might have different available test dates. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the IELTS test dates might need to be adjusted in order to respect COVID-19 distancing measures. However, the IELTS speaking section is usually set for a different day from the other three sections of the IELTS exam. This means that if you are choosing, say a Tuesday for the first three sections, you will have to do the IELTS speaking section on a later date than Tuesday. Also, the available dates per centre will depend on the number of people who have already booked the test for that particular date at the centre.


After you must have chosen and IELTS test centre and picked an IELTS exam date, the next thing you will need to do is to book for the exam. During the booking process, you will have to provide the required information, and complete the payment of the examination fee. On completion of these steps, you shall be issued a receipt which will contain all the information you might need about your upcoming IELTS exam. During these periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, the test dates might be modified in various IELTS writing centres. However, if ever your test date is modified, you shall be notified about the modification by mail.

IELTS Preparation

Once you have successfully booked for your IELTS test, the next thing you will have to do towards getting your IELTS certificate is to prepare for the exam. In order for you to effectively prepare for this IELTS exam, you must firstly know how the exam is usually structured. In this next section of the article, we are going to briefly talk about the four distinct sections of the IELTS exam, and what is expected from the candidates in each of these sections. In a chronological order, the four sections in the IELTS exam are: Listening, Reading, Writing & Speaking (usually scheduled on a different day).

IELTS Listening

The very first section of the IELTS test is usually the Listening section. In this section of the test, candidates are expected to:

  • Understand main ideas and get a grasp of specific details
  • Recognize the opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
  • Follow the development of an argument

The IELTS listening section comprises of four separate recordings which shall be played, followed by a series of questions.

  1. The first recording is a conversation between two people talking in an everyday social context
  2. The second recording is a monologue, still talking in an everyday social context
  3. The third recording is a conversation between up to four people talking about an educational or training related topic
  4. The fourth, and last recording is a monologue on an academic subject, for example a classroom lecture.

The duration of the IELTS listening test is about thirty (30) minutes, after which you are allowed an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. This IELTS listening test also comprises of 40 questions, set using a variety of question types (multiple choice, sentence completion, matching, etc.).

IELTS Reading

Keeping in mind that there is no break between the first three sections of the IELTS test, the reading section is the second section of the IELTS test. In the IELTS reading section, the candidates are expected to:

  • Read and get the general idea of a passage
  • Be able to bring out the main idea of the passage
  • Bring out specific details from the passage
  • Understand inferences and implied meaning
  • Recognize a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • Follow the development of an argument

With the IELTS exam having two test types, the IELTS reading section of the exam varies among the test types.

IELTS Academic Reading

For the academic reading section of the test will present with three long texts taken from books, magazines, journals etc. After reading these passages, the candidate will be expected to answer forty questions. The candidates might be expected to fill in gaps, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions. The time allowed for this section is usually 60 minutes, and this includes the time for transferring of answers. Each correct answer will be awarded a mark and the scored will be totalled on 40. These scores out of 40 will be converted to the IELTS 9-band scale and reported in full and half bands.

IELTS General Training Reading

The IELTS general training reading section does not differ much from the IELTS academic reading section. The main difference being that a single passage is given, containing extracts form newspapers, notices, advertisements etc. These passages contain things which you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment. The number of questions and allowed time is the same as in the IELTS Academic reading section. The scores are once again converted to the IELTS 9-band scale and reported in full and half bands.

IELTS Writing

The third and final section of the first day of IELTS exam is the IELTS writing section. Once again, depending on whether the candidate it taking the IELTS academic or general training, the setting will vary.

IELTS Academic Writing

The IELTS academic writing comprises of two (02) tasks. For task one, you shall be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will then be expected to interpret, describe and summarize it in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, stages of a process, or how something works. Task two requires the candidate to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

IELTS General Training Writing

Just like the academic writing section of the test, the IELTS general training writing section also comes with two (02) tasks. Task one of this section focuses on topics of general interest. This means that the topics which are related to everyday life’s experiences.  Task one involves the presentation of a scenario, in response to which you have to write a letter to either request for information or give an explanation. This letter can either be written in an informal, semi-formal or formal manner. Task two of the IELTS general training writing section is usually basically the same as task two of the IELTS academic writing section.

For both the IELTS academic writing and IELTS general training writing sections, the allowed time is sixty (60) minutes. Task two usually requires twice as much time as task one. This means that by the end of twenty (20) minutes, you should be done with task one and move onto task two. For task one, you will be required to write at least 150 words, while for task two, you will be required to write a minimum of 250 words. In the same way, task two is twice as weighted as task one.

IELTS Speaking

The IELTS speaking is the section of the IELTS exam which has to be scheduled on a separate day from that of the first three sections. For this section, you will be speaking to a certificated examiner. This section of the test is meant to be as interactive as possible, and is meant to assess a wide variety of skills. These skills to be evaluated in the IELTS speaking test include:

Communication of opinions and information about everyday topics and common experiences

Speaking elaborately on a given topic, and in a appropriate language

Organization of ideas in a coherent manner

Expression and justification of your opinions

It is essential that during this session, you remain relaxed, natural and at ease.

The IELTS speaking is divided into three (03) parts and is expected to take a total of about 11-14 minutes.

  1. For part one, the examiner introduces him/herself and asks you to do same, or confirm your identity. Next, they will as you questions about familiar topics
  2. Part two involves the examiner giving you a task card which requires you to talk about a particular topic. This card also contains key point which they will want you to include in your talk. You will be given about a minute to prepare your talk, after which they shall let you talk for one-to-two minutes uninterrupted. When you are done, the examiner will then ask you a few questions on this topic.
  3. In part three, the examiner will ask you further questions about the topic in part two. These questions will be in such a way as to give you an opportunity to elaborate more on it.

Your performance throughout this section will be assessed base on the following criteria:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

More details about the IELTS test format can be read from the official website of the British Council.

Now that we have seen all the four sections involved in the IELTS exam, we can proceed to talk about how to effectively prepare for the IELTS test.

In the same way this test is divided into four sections, you it would be advisable to prepare for the test per section. This means you should get lesson for;

  • IELTS Listening Practice
  • IELTS Reading Practice
  • IELTS Writing Practice and
  • IELTS Speaking Practice

While doing your IELTS preparation, it is also a wise idea if you could use an IELTS mentor. One of the most outstanding IELTS mentors our there is none other than IELTS Liz.

IELTS Results

The next thing after the IELTS test has been taken is for the results to get to the candidates who participated in the test. For the participants who took the paper-based exam, their IELTS results will be made available within 13 calendar days from the test date. However, for the participants who took the computer-delivered test, their IELTS results will be available within 3-5 calendar days from the test date. These IELTS results will be made available on the IELTS Test Taker Portal, where the candidates can look them up. The IELTS results are delivered in such a way that each section has a separate band score. An overall band score is usually calculated from these separate band scores and reported in full or half bands.

What is a good IELTS Score?

A good IELTS score, based on the IELTS official grading system, is an overall band score of at lest 7. This could mean that you scored a 7 in all four sections, commonly referred to as IELTS7777. The calculation of the overall band score gets a little complicated when you have different scores for the individual sections. However, the point to retain here is that the overall band score is the average of the scores from all four sections. This overall band score, just like the others is calculated and reported in full or half bands.