The IELTS test assesses your abilities in all four skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking - in under three hours.
The IELTS test format is tried and trusted by organisations and test takers worldwide, and has not changed significantly for over 20 years.
You will take the Listening, Reading and Writing tests all on the same day one after the other, with no breaks in between them. They are always taken in this order. Your Speaking test will either be after a break on the same day as the other three tests, or up to seven days before or after that. This will depend on your test centre.
Two versions of the test
There are two versions of the IELTS test format. See the ‘IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training?’ page to check which version you need to take.
Everyone takes the same Listening and Speaking tests, regardless of which version they take. The Reading and Writing tests differ in content, depending on whether you are taking IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training.
IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are assessed at exactly the same levels.
Find out more about how to understand the test format.
You cannot fail the test. IELTS is designed to assess English language skills at all levels.
You will receive IELTS scores based on each for the four skills on a scale of 1 – 9, and you will also be awarded an overall band score. You can score whole (e.g., 5.0, 6.0, 7.0) or half (e.g., 5.5, 6.5, 7.5) bands in each part of the test.
Your overall band score may be crucial if you intend to emigrate, apply for university or take up a job in an English-speaking country.
Find out more about how to calculate IELTS scores and the 9-band system.