This section lasts for about 30 minutes. It consists of four sections, played on cassette tape, in order of increasing difficulty. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. The test is played once only, and the questions for each section must be answered while listening, although time is given for students to check their answers.
This section lasts for 60 minutes. Students are given an Academic Reading test, or a General Training Reading test. Both tests consist of three sections, and in both tests the sections are in order of increasing difficulty.
This section also lasts for 60 minutes. Again, students take either an Academic test, or a General Training test. Students must perform two writing tasks, which require different styles of writing. There is no choice of question topics.
This section consists of a one-to-one interview with a specially trained examiner. The examiner will lead the candidate through the three parts of the test:
- An introduction and interview,
- an individual long turn where the candidate speaks for one or two minutes on a particular topic, and
- a two-way discussion thematically linked to the individual long turn. This interview will last for approximately 11-14 minutes.
IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest whole or half band.
For the avoidance of doubt, the following rounding convention applies; if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.
The nine bands are described as follows:
9 Expert User
Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
8 Very Good User
Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
7 Good User
Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6 Competent User
Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest user
Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
4 Limited User
Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in using complex language.
3 Extremely Limited User
Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations.
2 Intermittent User
No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs.
1 Non User
Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
0 Did not attempt the test
No assessable information provided at all.