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IELTS test format and scores

Take an IELTS test in just three hours. With results delivered quickly, your new life or career is closer than you think.

IELTS uses a tried and trusted process for assessing each test taker’s English language skills. It takes approximately three hours to complete the tests and you will be assessed in four stages:  

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Your English language Listening, Reading and Writing skills will be tested on the same day. There is no break between these tests – you will take them one after the other. 

Your Speaking assessment will be held separately, either on the same day or up to seven days before or after your Listening, Reading and Writing tests. This depends on your test centre. 

IELTS test formats

There are two versions of the test, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The formats of these tests are slightly different, but all test takers will still be assessed on the same four skills of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. 

Listening and Speaking

The Listening and Speaking elements of the language tests are the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. 

Reading and Writing

There are some differences between the Reading and Writing tests for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. For IELTS Academic you’ll focus on the sort of academic language needed for a university degree or working in an English-speaking workplace. With IELTS General, the language test is more generalised.

Both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are graded in the same way.

Not sure which version you need? Find out more about IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

View the test formats to discover how IELTS testing works.

Understanding your test score

Each part of the IELTS test is scored in bands from 1 to 9, including half points such as 2.5. Your overall score is the average band score achieved from all four tests. 

You cannot fail the test. It is designed to assess your English language competencies. However, individual organisations may require you to achieve a certain band score. Use our database to find out what score you’ll need.

Find out more about the IELTS scoring system.


Meet IELTS test takers