all about ielts general

All about IELTS General

All about the IELTS test

This article is the second part of All about IELTS test where we have already discussed a few important details about the IELTS test. It includes,

All about IELTS GENERAL Test

Now, let’s learn All about the IELTS General test – The first section is Listening, followed by Reading, Writing and Speaking, in order. All answers are written on an answer sheet provided during the test.

For a computer-based IELTS test, the answers are typed on a computer with a keyboard and a mouse. Visit this page to know more about the Computer-based test.

The total test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Let’s look at each section individually:

Listening Section – IELTS General
30 Minutes

The Listening test is the same for IELTS Academic and General.

It contains 40 questions of one mark each. The marks you score are converted into a nine-band point system. Scores are either in full or half (e.g., 6 or 6.5).

IELTS General Listening Question Types

You listen to four(4) pre-recorded audio recordings and answer 40 questions. A variety of question types are used ranging from

  • Multiple-choice
  • Matching, plan/ map/ diagram labelling
  • Form completion
  • Note completion
  • Table completion
  • Flow-chart completion
  • Summary completion
  • Sentence completion
  • Short-answer questions

4 Sections, now known as Parts of IELTS LISTENING

Part 1 is a conversation between two people from an everyday social environment. For example, a conversation between a librarian and a member, a service provider such as a plumber or an electrician and a customer.

Part 2 is a monologue (by a single speaker) from an everyday social environment. For example, a speech about local amenities or a briefing on the arrangements for a party.

Part 3 is a conversation between people (up to four) set in an educational or training environment. For example, a university professor and a student discussing a project, or a discussion between a group of students designing a model.

Part 4 is a monologue (by a single speaker) on an academic subject. For example, a part of a university lecture or a talk.

Skills tested in IELTS General Listening

There are certain skills required in the Listening test. While training for the IELTS Listening section, you should make sure that you develop these skills –

  • Understanding of the main ideas (What is the discussion all about? Or what is the overall content talking about?)
  • Understanding of specific facts (What are the main facts mentioned?)
  • Recognising opinions (What is the standpoint of the speaker or the people involved?)
  • The attitude and purpose of a speaker (What is the emotion of the speaker or the intention?)
  • And the ability to follow an argument (What is the argument about, and how it develops?)
  • Also, you need to make sure that your Grammar and spellings are correct.

Once you master these skills, you should be able to score higher in the IELTS General Listening test. You can join our IELTS classes in Kochi, or begin with ONLINE IELTS training. We are from Kerala, India and our IELTS classes are apt for students from an Asian origin. This is because we can understand an Asian accent and clear doubts put up by Asian student, better than a native user of English.

IELTS GENERAL LISTENING MARKING SCHEME

The IELTS General Listening section has 40 questions and you are allocated a Band Score based on the marks you get.

For Example, if you get 30-32 correct answers out of 40, then you are at a Band Score of 7. As you get more correct answers your band score increases. The table below should give you a clear understanding of the IELTS Listening marking scheme.

Band Score98.587.576.565.554.543.532.5
IELTS General Listening39-4037-3835-3633-3430-3227-2923-2620-2216-1913-1510-127-94-63
IELTS listening marking scheme

To know more about the marking scheme, please go through our article HOW is IELTS MARKED?

Also, read our informative article on IELTS Band Scores Explained.

Reading Section – IELTS General
60 minutes

IELTS Reading test is different for IELTS Academic and General.

It contains 40 questions of one mark each. The marks you score are converted into a nine-band point system. Scores are either in full or half (e.g., 6 or 6.5).

IELTS General Reading Question Types

You need to read three (3) passages and answer questions based on those passages. A large variety of question types are used, these include:

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Identifying information (True/False/Not Given)
  • Identifying a writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given)
  • Matching information
  • Matching headings
  • Matching features
  • Matching sentence endings
  • Sentence completion
  • Summary completion
  • Note completion
  • Table completion
  • Flow-chart completion
  • Diagram label completion
  • Short-answer questions

Three (3) sections of IELTS GENERAL READING

Section 1 contains two or three short factual (based on facts) texts focussing on everyday life in an English-speaking country. One of the texts may be a mixed text consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic (e.g. hotel advertisements).

Section 2 contains two short texts focusing on work-related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training).

Section 3 contains a more complex text (a passage) on a topic of general interest. The text is longer than the other parts.

All these texts are genuine and are sourced from actual notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Skills tested in IELTS GENERAL READING

There are certain skills required in the test, especially if you want to score higher in the IELTS test. These skills include –

  • Reading for the general idea (What is the passage generally talking about?)
  • Reading for main ideas (What are the main points discussed?)
  • Reading for details (Figure out details)
  • Understanding the conclusion of the passage and it’s suggested meaning (How did the passage conclude and what it means?)
  • Recognising author’s opinions, thought on the topic, feeling and purpose,
  • Following the development of an argument (Understand changes and deviations throughout the passage)

Once you master these skills, you should be able to score higher in the IELTS General Reading test. You can join our IELTS classes in Kochi, or begin with ONLINE IELTS training. We are from Kerala, India and our IELTS classes are more suitable for students from an Asian origin. This is because we can easily understand an Asian accent and quickly get rid of doubts put up by Asian student, better than a native user of English.

IELTS GENERAL READING MARKING SCHEME

The IELTS General Reading section has 40 questions for one mark each. You are allocated a Band Score based on the number of correct answers.

The IELTS Reading marking scheme is different for IELTS General and IELTS Academic.

For Example, if you get 34-35 correct answers out of 40, then you are at a Band Score of 7. As you get more correct answers your band score increases. The table below would make things clear.

Band Score98.587.576.565.554.543.532.5
Reading General403937-383634-3532-3330-3127-2923-2619-2215-1812-149-116-8
IELTS Reading General marking scheme

To know more about the marking scheme above, please go through our article HOW is IELTS MARKED?

Also, read our informative article on IELTS Band Scores Explained.

Writing Section – IELTS General
60 minutes

The IELTS General Writing test is different for IELTS Academic and General.

You need to complete two writing tasks –

  • ONE Letter
  • ONE Essay

IELTS examiners check your answers and give you a score based on a nine-band point system. They follow a ‘set standard’ while checking your answers. Scores are either in full or half (e.g., 6 or 6.5).

In the paper-based test, answers are written on paper and must be in good handwriting. In the computer-based test, answers are typed on a computer. You need to make sure the Writing Structure, Grammar and Spellings are correct.

TWO TYPES of IELTS General Writing Questions

Task 1 – Letter

Task 1 asks you to write a letter in 150 words. The question would describe a situation or a problem and you are supposed to write a letter in response to the situation. The letter question would usually want you to:

The Task 1 (Letter) questions are of the following types:

  • Ask/ provide some information (request leave from work due to a situation back at home or give details of a service to your friend)
  • Explain a situation (a waste disposal problem in your neighbourhood)

The letter may be Formal or Personal or Semi-Formal/ Neutral in style.

In a letter, the IELTS examiner checks your ability to take part in a personal communication (in the written form). They check your letter for certain elements, such as:

  • Your ability to give out facts or provide essential information
  • To demand something, or to ask for something you need
  • To express your likes and dislikes
  • To give your opinions, viewpoints or complaints

Task 2 – Essay

Task 2 asks you to write an essay, just like in the IELTS Academic writing section. However, the essay can be less formal and more personal in style and composition.

  • A viewpoint (Your thoughts or opinion about a certain topic)
  • Discuss an argument (A discussion with two sides)
  • Discuss a problem and give solutions.

You must write 250 words or more. I would recommend you write 270 -290 words.

In Task 2, the (two) examiners check your ability to:

  • Provide information which is based on general facts
  • To discuss a problem and give an apt solution
  • To present and if needed, justify an opinion
  • To evaluate(to check – is it worth or useful?) and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument

While writing an IELTS essay,

  • Please make sure that the style of your essay is neutral and semi-formal (not too formal or casual)
  • Please do not write notes and bullet points in the essay
  • Also, do not add quotes from famous personalities and never copy anyone else’s essay
  • Correct spellings and Grammar is equally important here.

Skills tested In IELTS General Writing

In both task 1 and 2, the examiner checks your responses for –

  • Content (the arguments you wrote, is it relevant to the question or off-topic)
  • The organisation of ideas (how you present your ideas, starting from a broad perspective and leading to a narrow point)
  • The accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar (the use of appropriate words and range of grammar)

Also, note that task 2 (essay) has more weight in the marking scheme. Thus, the examiners check your writing task (essay) for many more elements. These include:

  • Ability to write a solution to a problem
  • Write about your thoughts on a topic and justify it with arguments
  • Compare and contrast evidence, give opinions and suggest consequences
  • To evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument

In the Writing section, you need to complete both the writing tasks (letter and essay).

IELTS GENERAL WRITING MARKING SCHEME

In the Listening and Reading section, there was a table which would convert the marks you scored into a band score. However, in the Writing and Speaking section, there is no table to refer to.

You need to complete both the writing tasks (letter and essay) to score better. The writing section is marked for four major points:

  1. TA/ TR – Task Achievement / Task Response (They check if your answer all the parts and aspects of the question)
  2. CC – Coherence and Cohesion (The flow of ideas and the linkage between sentences. Basically, the structure)
  3. LR – Lexical Resource (The usage and flexibility in word usage. In other words, vocabulary)
  4. GR – Grammatical Range and Accuracy (The range of grammar and its correctness)

To know more about the marking scheme, please go through our article HOW is IELTS MARKED?

Also, read our informative article on IELTS Band Scores Explained.

You might also want to get a copy of the IELTS band descriptor for Writing task 1 (Report/ Letter) section and IELTS band descriptor for Writing task 2 (Essay) section from ielts.org

Once you master these skills and also understand the IELTS BAND DESCRIPTORS, you should be able to score higher in the IELTS General Writing test. You can join our IELTS classes in Kochi, or begin with ONLINE IELTS training. We are from Kerala, India and our IELTS classes are more suitable for students from an Asian origin. This is because we can easily understand an Asian accent and quickly get rid of doubts put up by Asian student, better than a native user of English.

Speaking Section – IELTS General
11-14 minutes

The Speaking test is the same for IELTS Academic and General.

In the IELTS Speaking test, you need to attend one on one interview with an IELTS Speaking Examiner. There are three parts in the speaking section.

3 PARTS of IELTS GENERAL SPEAKING

Speaking Part 1 (4-5 minutes)

The IELTS Speaking Part 1 deals with an introduction and interview. The examiner introduces himself/ herself and asks you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. Furthermore, the examiner asks you general questions on familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests.

Speaking Part 2 (3-4 minutes)

The IELTS Speaking Part 2 is also known as the Cue Card section. The examiner gives you a task card (also called a cue card) which asks you to talk about a particular topic (the main question). The cue card also includes 4 sub-questions which you should be able to answer. The examiner would give you 1 minute to prepare your response, and you are given a pencil and paper to make notes. After one minute, the examiner would prompt you to start and you should talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. Stop, when the examiner prompts. Make sure you answer all the sub-questions in the task card. Sometimes, the examiner may ask you one or two questions on the same topic.

Speaking Part 3 (4-5 minutes)

The speaking part 3 is a Two-way discussion. The examiner asks further questions which are related to the cue card in Part 2. These questions are more general, in nature. These questions may not have a definite (closed-ended) answer, instead, your answer should be discursive(as in a discussion). Try not to be objective, instead, be more subjective. Basically, they expect you to discuss more abstract (hypothetical) issues and ideas.

Skills tested in IELTS General Speaking

The skills required for the speaking test include:

  • The ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics
  • The ability to talk about common experiences and situations by answering a range of questions
  • The ability to speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language and organising ideas systematically
  • The ability to express and justify opinions and thoughts
  • The ability to analyse, discuss and make informed guesses about familiar issues

IELTS GENERAL SPEAKING MARKING SCHEME

Just like in the writing section, IELTS examiners use a document called the IELTS band descriptors to mark your Speaking answers. The document talks about four major points:

  1. FC – Fluency and Coherence (Fluency – Ability to speak without repetition or correction. Coherence – the flow of ideas in the speech is uninterrupted and maintains a linkage between sentences)
  2. LR – Lexical resource (Your knowledge and accuracy of vocabulary in speech)
  3. GR – Grammar (Your range of grammar and its accuracy in speech)
  4. PR – Pronunciation (Your mother tongue language does not influence your English speech, the way you say things is accurate)

To know more about the marking scheme, please go through our article HOW is IELTS MARKED?

Also, read our informative article on IELTS Band Scores Explained.

You might also want to get a copy of the IELTS band descriptor for Speaking section from ielts.org

Once you master these skills and also understand the IELTS BAND DESCRIPTORS, you should be able to score higher in the IELTS Writing test. You can join our IELTS classes in Kochi, or begin with ONLINE IELTS training. We are from Kerala, India and our IELTS classes are more suitable for students from an Asian origin. This is because we can easily understand an Asian accent and quickly get rid of doubts put up by Asian student, better than a native user of English.

AskLearning provides individual (one on one) training for IELTS Academic and General, at one of the best rated IELTS centres in Kochi. You can check more details about our Individual IELTS coaching here.

Angel Joseph


Angel Joseph is an experienced IELTS Trainer from Cochin in Kerala, India. She is a Cambridge certified agent and holds a Masters in International Business from LSBU University, London. In addition, she is a TESOL Canada certified trainer of English as a Second Language for non-native users. Previously, she had worked with Hewlett-Packard in London, Monster Inc. in Kochi, Aakash Education Services in Kochi, with more than 10 years of experience in the Training and Education domain. She loves to engage with her students and always has a trick up her sleeve, to help you with your IELTS preparation. As a result, she is a seasoned teacher of English and is overly capable of getting rid of your fear of speaking and interacting in English. You may contact Angel on her Official email id.

Angels School of Knowledge – We are a language school located in Kochi, Kerala, and we provide the best IELTS coaching in Kochi. Our specialized training would let you score higher in the IELTS test and make you cross the dreaded band 7 in IELTS. If you are looking for 8777 in IELTS, then we are your best bet!

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