IELTS Exam Syllabus 2024 (Section-Wise): Listening, Reading, Writing & Speaking


Rahul Singha

Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

Updated on May 15, 2024 14:38 IST

IELTS Syllabus: Candidates looking to achieve a higher IELTS band score are required to know the IELTS exam syllabus at the back of their hand. The IELTS full form is the International English Language Testing System and the IELTS exam is available to candidates in two formats, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Candidates can opt for either of the IELTS exams depending on their requirements or the university/ course they will be applying to.

IELTS Syllabus

When we talk about the IELTS exam syllabus, the IELTS syllabus contains a total of four sections, i.e. Reading, Speaking, Writing and Listening. While the IELTS syllabuses for the Speaking and Listening sections are the same, the IELTS exam syllabuses for the Reading and Writing sections are different for the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training formats of the exam. Candidates should be well informed that both versions of the IELTS are instrumental in providing a valid and accurate assessment of a candidate’s listening, reading, writing, and speaking language skills. The IELTS test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

IELTS Sections Section Description Time Allotted 
IELTS Listening Section Test takers would be required to listen to four recorded texts and answer questions.  30 minutes
IELTS Reading Section Test takers would be required to read three lengthy texts and answer a total of 40 questions  60 minutes
IELTS Writing Section Candidates would be required to attempt two tasks, Writing Task 1 and 2 addressing topics of broad relevance.  60 minutes
IELTS Speaking Section Divided into 3 parts, the Speaking Section will require the candidate to answer general questions about themselves, talk on a particular topic on cue cards and answer questions connected to Part 2. 11 - 14 minutes
Four Sections   161 - 164 minutes

Section-wise IELTS Exam Syllabus

In this section, we are going to be looking at the IELTS exam syllabus in detail. As informed earlier, the IELTS syllabus contains a total of four sections, i.e. Reading, Speaking, Writing and Listening. While the IELTS syllabuses for the Speaking and Listening sections are the same, the IELTS exam syllabuses for the Reading and Writing sections are different for the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training formats of the exam. The IELTS exam syllabus is divided into 4 sections:

  • Writing syllabus
  • Reading syllabus
  • Listening syllabus
  • Speaking syllabus
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IELTS Writing Section

Writing: Candidates take an academic writing module. Responses to the academic writing module are short essays or general reports, addressed to an educated non-specialist audience. There are two compulsory tasks. Task 1 requires 150 words, and candidates are asked to look at a diagram, table, or data and to present the information in their own words. Task 2 requires at least 250 words, and all candidates are presented with a point of view, argument, or problem and asked to provide general factual information, present a solution, justify an opinion, evaluate ideas and evidence, etc.

Total no. of questions: 2
Total time: 60 minutes 

Writing- IELTS Academic

  • It includes two tasks wherein the topics are of general interest and relatable for candidates applying for an undergraduate or postgraduate program.
  • For your first task, you will be handed a paper that would contain either a diagram, table, or graph. You will be required to recapitulate and define the given data in your own words. You may be asked to explain a certain data entry, process the given information, or a flowchart to logically arrive at a conclusion.
  • In the next task, you need to write an essay as a response to your deduction from the given data and support your argument with relevant examples, through the given data. Please note that the writing style should be strictly formal.

Writing- IELTS General Training

  • It also includes two tasks, yet, it is much easier than that of the academic format.
  • You will be asked to write a letter as per the given situation. The letter can be formal, semi-formal, or personal depending upon the situation presented. You will be asked to explain, request something, or support your argument to a certain authority.
  • Based on the above viewpoint, you will be asked to draft an essay on the same. The arguments and opinions mentioned here should be supported by relevant instances and the writing style can be a bit personal.

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IELTS Reading Section

Reading: The reading module consists of three texts of general interest dealing with issues that are appropriate for candidates entering postgraduate or undergraduate courses. Both reading modules consist of three passages or sections with forty questions. Question types include multiple-choice, sentence, or summary completion, identifying data for short-answer questions, matching lists or phrases, and identifying writers’ views/attitudes.

Total no. of questions: About 40
Total time: 30 minutes

Reading- IELTS Academic

This includes three long paragraphs which can be either descriptive, factual or analytical. These paragraphs are basically excerpts taken from newspapers, research works, journals, books, or even magazines. Targeting a non-specialist audience, the texts are ideal for testing higher education aspirants or for professionals seeking work abroad.

Reading- IELTS General Training

Similar to the academic format, here the excerpts can be passages from advertisements, company guidelines, brochures, and so on. This is relatively easier than the academic format as the selected text is generally something that one encounters on a day-to-day basis.

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IELTS Listening Section

Listening: The Listening module is divided into four sections. The first two conversations are concerned with social needs, while the last two are concerned with situations more closely related to education. They will all be around three minutes long. The conversations could be both monologues and dialogues. These conversations can be heard once only. A variety of question types are asked, like multiple-choice, short-answer questions, note completion, sentence completion, labeling a diagram, etc. 
Total no. of questions: 40+
Total time: 30 minutes

Sections 1 and 2 are about every day, social situations

  • Recording 1: The first recording would have a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 2 – The second recording would happen to be a monologue set in an everyday social context.

Sections 3 and 4 are about educational and training situations

  • Recording 3 – The following recording would be a conversation between four people set in an educational or training context.
  • Recording 4 – And the final recording would be a monologue on an academic subject

IELTS Speaking Section

Speaking: The Speaking part is like a structured interview with an emphasis on general speaking skills. It assesses whether candidates have the required knowledge and skills to communicate effectively with native speakers of English. Read: IELTS Speaking Topics 
Total no. of questions: 3 parts – Personal Interview, Little Speech, and a Discussion
Total time: 11 to 14 minutes

Part 1 introduction and interview (4–5 minutes)

For the first five minutes, you will be asked some mundane questions about yourself such as family, home, studies, hobbies and interests, and so on. 

Part 2 long turn (2–3 minutes)

Next, the examiner will hand you a flashcard that would contain a certain topic. You will be given a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the topic as you would need to speak on that topic for about two minutes. Post your speech, the examiner might ask a few questions based on your understanding of the topic.

Part 3 discussions (5–6 minutes)

Deeper questions and abstract discussions would take place based on the given topic and your speech. You will get the opportunity to explore your given topic and delve into deeper issues. You can expect this part to last for five-six minutes.

Highlights of the IELTS Exam Pattern 2024

Section Description Questions/Duration
Listening It encompasses four recorded monologues and conversations

Questions: 4

Duration: 30 minutes

Reading Three long reading passages with tasks. Texts range from descriptive and factual to discursive, and analytical includes non-verbal material like diagrams, graphs, and illustrations texts are authentic (taken from books, journals, and newspapers)

Questions: 40

Duration: 60 minutes

Writing A writing task of at least 150 words where the candidate must summarize, describe or explain a table, graph, chart or diagram, and another short essay task of at least 250 words

Questions: 2

Duration: 60 minutes

Speaking The face-to-face interview includes short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic, and a structured discussion

Questions: 3

Duration: 11 to 14 minutes

Types of IELTS

The IELTS exam is of two types:

IELTS Academic

IELTS Academic is for candidates who are interested in applying for higher education or professional registration to countries that use English as their fundamental language of communication. The main purpose of the examination is to judge whether a candidate is ready to begin studying or training in the English language. Countries that widely recognize IELTS for studying are the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

IELTS General Training

IELTS General Training is for aspirants who are looking to migrate to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, US, and the UK or applying for secondary education, training programs, and work experience in an English-speaking environment. Here the examination focuses on the basic survival skills of a candidate in a broad social and workplace environment.

Also read:

Preparation tips for IELTS

There are two ways to prepare for IELTS: one is self-study and another is attending coaching classes. Which way you will choose depends on your language proficiency and comfort level. If you are already fluent in English, you need not attend coaching classes, you can prepare for the exam on your own. You just need to figure out when to start preparing for IELTS.

Also Read: FAQs for IELTS Exam

Still, have doubts? Check out IELTS frequently asked questions and learn more about the exam and IELTS Syllabus.

IELTS Syllabus FAQs

Q. Is it difficult to pass the IELTS exam?

A. If you are strong in English then it is not difficult to earn a good score in IELTS. Moreover, with preparation one can improve the band score as well. There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates should set a target score to achieve, so, they can qualify for the institution where they are seeking admission. Learning about the IELTS Syllabus 2023 (section-wise) will help you in test preparation.

Q. What is there in the IELTS Academic Writing Paper?

A. There are two tasks in the Writing module and test-takers need to complete both. In the first task, you need to describe some visual information in your own words. Whereas, in the second task you will be given an argument, problem, or a point of view that you need to discuss.

Q. What is there in the IELTS Academic Reading test?

A. The Reading module includes 3 sections having 40 questions. It includes general interest topics. The texts can be from books, magazines, online resources, or newspapers. Also, candidates should attempt questions carefully as they will lose marks for incorrect grammar and spelling.

Q. What is there in the IELTS Speaking test?

A. In the Speaking test there is a face-to-face interview between the test taker and the examiner. The Speaking test includes 3 parts which are mentioned above. Here, candidates are assessed on the following parameters:
  • Grammar
  • Pronunciation
  • Lexical resource
  • Fluency
The Speaking test is recorded.

Q. What is there in the IELTS Listening Test?

A. IELTS Listening test has 4 parts including 10 questions in every part. Part one and two of the test includes everyday social situations whereas part three and four includes educational situations. The questions are in sequence as the information provided in the recording, therefore, the answer for the first question will be before the second.

Q. If I have booked a test but my passport gets expired, will I be able to take the test?

A. If the passport is valid then you can use it at the test date, however, if it has expired then in that case you need to reschedule the IELTS test date and bring a valid passport to the test center.

Q. How to change the Speaking test date?

A. Speaking test date cannot be rescheduled as it is system generated.

Q. What will happen if a candidate is not able to attempt the IELTS test?

A. If a candidate has registered for the test but fails to appear then he will be marked as absent and no refund will be issued.

Q. What all skills are measured by IELTS?

A. IELTS test is designed to monitor how you use the English language. It assesses the candidate's reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Candidates need to prepare thoroughly to take the IELTS test.
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Tajkia Sultana

4 weeks ago

Hii, I want to complete my Bachelors in Malaysia from Bangladesh. But I am not understanding which books to choose for taking preparation as I want to take preparation at home.Pls help me to choose the best books and let me know if there is any free-student scholarship in Malaysia.

Reply to Tajkia Sultana


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

3 weeks ago

Hello Tajkia. I would highly recommend that you opt for books/ study material that is available on the official website of IDP - the conducting body of the IELTS exam. The books would have the latest syllabus and cover everything you would need to know to ace your IELTS exam.


TOM Titus

5 months ago

Hi I have a query. I completed my 12th on 2017 and I been working from 2018 to 2023 can I get admission on Diploma course

Reply to TOM Titus


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

4 months ago

Hello Tom. Admission processes are university-specific. And since you have been working from 2018 to 2023 - this would only add to your resume as work experience. You can also look for assistance with university admissions from our counsellors here.

Hello shiksha I just finish my B A in political science. I want to study abroad now? Can I complete MA here. And then what kind of work will I get. I would be very happy if you answer. Thank you

Reply to Mustafijur molla


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

10 months ago

Hello Mustafijur. If you are looking for assistance with applying to universities abroad. Get in touch with our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors and book a counselling session absolutely free, Click Here


a year ago

Hi Shiksha Study Abroad, I have a query, I completed my bachelors in the year 2020 with first division, so can I apply on the basis of MOI?

Reply to Aditi


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

10 months ago

Hello Aditi. Thank you for writing in. A Medium of Instruction Certificate (MOI) is accepted proof of English proficiency. However, whether your preferred university/ college would be considering the MOI is something you will have to check. This is entirely at the discretion of the university and th




a year ago

I am 10th pass , I want to check my efficiency in english I am eligible

Reply to Pratham


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

10 months ago

Hello Pratham. You can go ahead and take the IELTS exam to check your proficiency in the English language. However, do note that the IELTS exam is for candidates who are looking to study or migrate to countries that use English as their first language. You can opt for other English proficiency tests