Full Name: International English Language Testing System
Started: 1980
Operated by: British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment, International Development Program, and IELTS Australia
Number of Test Takers: 3m +
Paper Variations: Academic (for university and professional purposes) and General Training (for migration purposes). Approximately 80% of applicants take the academic paper.

Skills Tested: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
Scoring: 0-9 (9 is maximum)
Scores are awarded for each skills section. A final overall score is calculated from the average.

The Test

Note that the speaking test usually occurs on a different day from the other papers.

Listening (40 minutes):
Students listen to 4 recordings:
Recording 1: an everyday conversation between 2 people
Recording 2: a monologue/speech about an everyday topic
Recording 3: an education-based conversation between two to four people
Recording 4: a monologue/speech on an academic subject

Note: The listening paper is the same for both the academic and general papers.

Speaking (10-15 minutes)
The speaking exam is conducted in a face-to-face discussion with an examiner, and is done in three sections:
Part 1: General conversation relating to an everyday topic
Part 2: A 1-2 minute talk on a given topic, including answers to 3-4 key points
Part 3: Further discussion/Q&A on ideas roughly related to the topic in Part 2

Note: The listening paper is the same for both the academic and general papers.

Reading (60 minutes):
Students are given 50 minutes to read the passages, with an additional 10 minutes for transferring answers. The paper consists of 40 questions.

Academic Paper:
3 long passages, each increasing in difficulty. The content is more academic in both content and style (e.g. science, environment, history; journals, experts’ opinions, textbooks)

General Paper:
4 short passages, each increasing in difficulty and length. The content is more related to everyday life and formats (e.g. travel, advertising, work; letters, newspapers, magazines)

Writing (60 minutes):
The writing paper is divided into two sections. The first section should take approximately 20 minutes to complete and consist of a minimum of 150 words; and the second should take around 40 minutes and consist of a minimum of 250 words.

Academic Paper:
Part 1: Analyse, compare (if needed) and summarise data provided in a graph, diagram, or process.
Part 2: An argumentative essay answering a given question. The answer should be formal and objective.

General Paper:
Part 1: A letter outlining given ideas, including appropriate tone.
Part 2: An argumentative essay answering a given question. The answer may be less formal in tone than the academic paper.