IELTS General

IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is used as the language of communication. IELTS is required for entry to university in the UK and other countries.

What is the IELTS General test like?

The General version of IELTS is easier than the academic version. The IELTS General Training test is suitable for those applying to study below degree level. This includes an English-speaking school or college. It can also be taken for work experience or other employment training. IELTS General Training is also required for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. All candidates do the same Listening and Speaking sections.
The test has four sections:


4 sections, 40 questions, 30 minutes
Section 1: a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
Section 2: a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
Section 3: a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
Section 4: a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.
Each section is heard once only. They include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian.


An interview, 11-14 minutes
Part 1 Introduction and interview
Part 2 Individual long turn - you have to talk about a given topic for up to 2 minutes.
Part 3 Two-way discussion (The examiner asks further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2.)


3 sections, 40 questions, 60 minutes
Section 1: two or three short factual texts with tasks mainly about retrieving and providing general factual information.
Section 2: contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues
Section 3: one longer, more complex text


Part 1: write a letter requesting information or explaining a situation.
Part 2: write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem


Level and scores

Multi-level. You get a score between 1 and 9. Half scores such as 6.5 are possible. Universities often demand a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 or 7.0. They may also demand a minimum score of 6.0 in each of the 4 sections.

Please click here to see an explanation of IELTS Band Scores. You can use the IELTS Band Score Calculator on this site to convert your reading and listening raw scores.

Click here to see a comparison of IELTS scores with other exams.

What materials do I need?

You can download practice tests in pdf format from our partners at

IELTS Practice Tests

Click here to see the other exam books recommended by Exam English