Do you need to take the IELTS test? 

Do you have questions that you need answering?

At IELC, we have helped thousands of people in our IELTS Course achieve their IELTS target and we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions that IELTS test takers ask. 

In this article, we will share 10 of the most commonly asked questions about IELTS and hopefully give you a clearer picture of what IELTS is all about!

1. What does IELTS stand for?

Let’s start with the basics. IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and it is used to measure English proficiency of test takers. 

2. What is Academic IELTS and what is General Training IELTS?

Academic IELTS is used for academic purposes, such as entry into university or applying for scholarships. 

General Training IELTS is used for job applications and migration to English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. General Training IELTS is also used for non-degree or lower level academic purposes such as high school. 

3. What are the differences between Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS?

  • The listening and speaking modules are identical for Academic and General Training IELTS 
  • The reading module in both Academic and General Training IELTS contain the same number and types of questions, but different types of text passages. For example, the Academic IELTS reading module contains academic passages like scientific articles. General Training IELTS uses more practical texts such as extracts from newspapers, magazines, advertisements, etc.
  • The writing module is where these tests differ the most. In Writing Task 1 of Academic IELTS, test takers are asked to analyse a report in the form of a line graph, a bar chart, a pie chart, a table, a flowchart, a map or some other visual report.   

In Writing Task 1 of General Training IELTS, test takers are asked to write either a formal, semi-formal or informal letter such as a request to a bank; a complaint to an airline; a job application; an invitation; or other practical matters. 

  • Writing task 2 is the same in format for both Academic and General Training IELTS. 

4. How is the IELTS test conducted?

The IELTS test is conducted at specific venues chosen by IDP (—ielc-solo) 

The test comprises 4 sections and takes approximately 3 hours in total:

  1. Listening contains 4 sections and 40 questions and takes approximately 30 minutes. 
  2. Reading contains 3 passages and 40 questions and takes 60 minutes. 
  3. Writing contains 2 tasks and takes 60 minutes. 
  4. The speaking interview is not always held on the same day as the other modules. However, it will take place within 7 days of taking the other modules. The speaking interview consists of 3 parts and taks abou 11-14 minutes.  

5. Is there a break during the test?

There is no break between the listening, reading, and writing test modules. However, you can take a toilet break during these modules. After these modules have been completed, you will have to wait until it’s your turn to do the speaking interview (unless you are the first person chosen!) 

You can’t eat, drink, or use your phone during any of the tests. So, make sure to eat and finish your texting and cyberloafing before you start your IELTS test!

6. Should I use American or British English?

You can use either but do try to be consistent. If you use American English, write in American spelling all the way through the test. And during the speaking test, it might become confusing for the examiner if you keep swapping between American, British, Australian, South African or any other type of accent (although I’m sure the examiner would find it amusing).  

7. How many times will the recording be played in the listening test?

The recording will be played just once! So be sure to give it your undivided attention. You will have time to read the questions before the recording is played and you can also write notes on the question paper. So, use that time to prepare. You also get an additional 10 minutes at the end of the recording to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. 

8. Will I lose points for wrong answers?

You will not lose points for wrong answers in the listening and reading modules. So, even if you don’t know the correct answer, it’s best to just guess the answer… hint: it’s always a B in multiple choice ;)

9. How is the IELTS test scored?

IELTS is scored on a scale from 0-9. You receive individual scores for the listening, reading, writing, and speaking test modules and an overall score, comprising your average score in all 4 modules. 

If your overall average is 6.25 it will be rounded up to the next half band of 6.5 and if your overall average is 6.75 it will be rounded up to 7.0 (there are no quarter bands) 

Check out the link to our article on the difference between bands here: 

Band 0: This means you did not attempt the test and/or didn’t answer any question

  • Band 1: This means you have no understanding of English except from a few isolated words. 
  • Band 2: This means you are an intermittent user and have very great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
  • Band 3: This means that you are an extremely limited user. You only have a very basic grasp of English and can only understand general meaning in very familiar situations. 
  • Band 4: This means that you are a limited user. Your understanding is limited to familiar situations, and you are not capable of using complex language. 
  • Band 5: This means that you are a modest user. You have partial command of English and can handle basic communication. However, you are still likely to make many mistakes. 
  • Band 6: This means that you are a competent user. You have an effective command of English even though you may still make mistakes and inaccuracies. You can understand and use fairly complex language and should have no problem communicating in familiar situations. 
  • Band 7: This means that you are a good user and have good grasp of English. You may still make a few mistakes and inaccuracies but generally are able to handle detailed reasonings and should have no problem performing everyday tasks. 
  • Band 8: This means that you are a very good user and have a very good grasp of English. You may make occasional mistakes during unfamiliar situations but overall, you can handle complex reasonings very well. Band 8 achievers are generally regarded as highly fluent. 
  • Band 9: This means that you are an expert user. Very few people can get an overall score of 9. If you do, it means you are very fluent and have excellent command of English. You show complete understanding in every situation.

10. How can I prepare for IELTS?

Preparing for IELTS is no easy task as you need to develop sophisticated language skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking. And in order to do well in writing and speaking, you also need a good command of active vocabulary and grammar. 


We have discussed the top 10 most commonly asked questions about IELTS by test takers. Preparing for the IELTS exam can be overwhelming so we really hope this article helps you in your goal of becoming an IELTS Ninja! 

We love helping people get their IELTS goals so they can reach their potential and follow their dreams. 

Do you want to achieve your IELTS target?

Preparing for IELTS can be confusing! So, if you’re tired on wasting time on strategies that don’t work…


If you don’t want to waste money on courses that don’t help…

Then check out…

The best IELTS preparation course in Indonesia

At IELC, we teach IELTS the right way.


We teach you exactly how to achieve your IELTS target.

that’s why…

We have the best track record in Indonesia for helping our students achieve their IELTS target


We will make sure you achieve your target too!

Our experienced teachers will give you the tips, tricks, and strategies you need to succeed in IELTS and guide you along every step of the way until you achieve your dream IELTS target.

So check out our IELTS course to see how we can help you.

We have helped thousands of IELTS test takers achieve their targets IELTS scores and we would love to help you achieve your target too!


Anthony McCormick,

IELC Managing Director