IELTS Exam Pattern 2024

Updated on: Feb 19, 2024

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standard exam to test someone’s level of proficiency in the English language. The IELTS exam pattern is specifically developed to test English fluency in non-native English speakers. Given the accurate assessment of a person’s knowledge of the language, several educational institutions and workplaces around the globe widely recognise these tests.

Sign up now to achieve a Score of 6 or higher with our free IELTS Masterclass!

IELTS serves as proof of English proficiency for candidates applying for various educational institutions in the UK, the USA, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and others. Each country has its own benchmark score for students to become eligible to apply to their colleges or universities. It is important to note that the scores can differ with each educational institution to which you apply. 

Let’s get started with the IELTS test pattern 2024 and help you ace the exam in no time!

Types of IELTS exam

There are two types of IELTS exam patterns: IELTS Academic and IELTS General. While both types evaluate your basic English skills, their purpose differs. It is important to make sure which IELTS exam would suit your purpose.

FactorIELTS AcademicIELTS General
PurposeSuitable for candidates planning to pursue education abroad.Suitable for candidates planning to migrate to an English-speaking country. 
Also applicable to people who wish to establish a career.
IELTS exam patternTests basic English skills like reading, writing, listening, and speaking.Tests basic English skills like reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
IELTS exam syllabusFeatures academic-specific, high-level scenarios.Tests skills required in social and workplace environments.
Who can appear?Students who wish to pursue their undergraduate, postgraduate or other courses abroad.People planning to migrate, or establish a career abroad.

Register now and start your free IELTS Masterclass!

IELTS exam pattern

There are two modes in the IELTS test pattern 2024: paper-based and computer-based. Although IELTS Academic and IELTS General are different versions attempted by different sets of candidates, they have the same pattern.

The IELTS exam pattern consists of four sections to evaluate your English proficiency:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

While the listening and speaking sections of the IELTS exam pattern are similar for IELTS Academic and IELTS General, the reading and writing sections consist of different questions. Here’s everything you need to know about IELTS exam pattern:

IELTS exam sections

SectionsIELTS exam patternSyllabus similarity in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training versionTotal questionsDuration
Listening4 recorded monologues and conversations.Same4030 minutes
Reading3 long reading passages with tasks covering descriptive, factual, and analytical concepts.Different4060 minutes
Writing2 short essays each 150-250 words. The questions will be in the form of a graph, chart, or diagram, and the candidate will interpret and describe the data.Different260 minutes
SpeakingFace-to-face interview with a few short questions, a brief conversation on a familiar topic, and a structured discussion.Same3-511-14 minutes

Also read: IELTS Preparation Books

Sign up now to achieve a Score of 6 or higher with our free IELTS Masterclass!

IELTS test pattern 2024

Section: Listening

The listening section is the same for IELTS Academic and General exams, consisting of 40 questions in four parts. The questions possess a unique theme or an emphasis, and the difficulty level increases as you proceed with the exam.

You can type or write the answers while listening to the excerpts. The candidate is required to complete the listening section in 30 minutes.

Section: Speaking

The speaking section is considered the most crucial part of the IELTS exam pattern. Your speaking skills will be assessed and evaluated during a face-to-face interview lasting 11-14 minutes. 

Split into three sections, the examiner would converse with the candidate on diverse topics and assess their ability to speak in English. The syllabus of this section is the same for both IELTS Academic and General exams.

Watch our IELTS Lessons Playlist on YouTube. Our expert instructor covers all modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Click here.

Section: Reading

The reading section of the IELTS exam pattern consists of 40 questions divided into three parts. You are required to complete the questions in 60 minutes. The syllabus differs for the academic and general versions.

Section: Writing

The writing section requires you to write two brief descriptive essays of 200-250 words in 60 minutes. While the overall task is similar for the IELTS Academic and General versions, the concept of the questions varies.

Register now and start your free IELTS Masterclass!

Frequently Asked Questions

Has the IELTS exam pattern changed?

Not significantly. In 2020, the committee renamed the "sections" in the listening category as "parts."

How many skills are tested in the IELTS test?

Your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills are tested and evaluated in the IELTS.

Is there a break between the listening, reading and writing sessions?

No. These sections are conducted in a single session as one exam.

Which is the most difficult section in IELTS?

While all four sections of the IELTS exam pattern are designed with the same difficulty level, students may sometimes find the listening section to be tougher than other sections. They might find it difficult to listen and record their answers simultaneously. You can overcome this problem with enough practice.

Is the IELTS difficult?

IELTS isn't difficult in itself, but it may seem like it is due to the vast syllabus. With practice it will become easier.