The Speaking module of the IELTS is not always done on the day of the test. It may be done the day before the test, the day of the test, or the day after the test. It lasts 10-14 minutes and is done one-on-one with an IELTS examiner, who will be a native speaker of English.
The test consists of 3 sections, or tasks.
The first task consists of a series of general questions, which means that every student who comes into the room will have an idea about the topic. Example questions include “Where did you grow up?”, “What do you do in your spare time?” and “What is your favorite color?”
The second task is called the Long Turn. This part requires the student to speak on their own for 1-2 mintues without stopping. Students are given a card with a series of prompts on them. The student has one minute to look at the card, arrange their speech, and then talk for 1-2 minutes. The focus in this task is on clarity of speech, organization and time management.
The third task consists of a series of questions that are connected to the topic presented in the second task. For example, if the second task prompts you to talk about a concert, the third task will follow up with questions about music, entertainment, and other related topics. This task is often the most difficult because it asks questions in a more abstract way. An example is “What kind of music is best to listen to while studying?” Answers for this task should not be too short.
The Writing module of the IELTS Academic Test has 2 sections and lasts a total of 1 hour. It is recommended that test takers spend approximately 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. The reason is that Task 1 is shorter, requiring a minimum of 150 words, and Task 2 is a bit longer, requiring 250 words. Moreover, Task 2 is the more important task in that it is given more importance with regards to your final Band Score.
The Writing module of the Academic Test is a bit different than that of the General Test. Task 1 in the Academic Test requires students to write an essay in which they analyze a graph, table, chart, diagram or map. The student must lay out the essay in a very specific fashion.
Writing Task 2 is the same in the Academic and General Tests. This task generally requires students to write an opinion essay in which they choose a side of an argument and defend their thoughts, siting relevant examples and real life experience.
The Reading section is one hour in length. There are three sections which consist of 40 questions. There are roughly a dozen different question types that can be asked of you. Unlike the Listening module, there is no transfer time at the end of the Reading module. All answers must be written in the answer book at the end of one hour.
The Reading module is very vocabulary intensive, so it is recommended that students study the vocabulary from an IELTS book. Sincethe Cambridge publishing company is one of the writers of the IELTS exam, their texts are highly recommended while preparing for the exam. In addition to Cambridge, there are many other texts out there, so it is useful to consult a professional IELTS tutor for specific suggestions.
The Listening module is done first. It consists of 4 sections and there are 10 questions in each section for a total of 40 questions. Before listening to the questions, the student has a chance to read the question and highlight key words. The audio is then played and the student must fill in or select the answers while listening. The audio is only played once.
Most students usually get their best score on the Listening. However, it is not easy. To prepare for the listening, if your level is intermediate or below, you can do listening from English practice books such as Headway, Cutting Edge or similar English language books. If your English is strong intermediate or above, you can do listening from more difficult books like Market Leader. It is recommended that students of all levels listening to English news on the radio or television. While preparing for the IELTS, students should watch television and listen to the radio for a total of 2 hours each day. Do not use subtitles while doing this.