IELTS Exam Syllabus 2023

Updated on: May 17, 2023

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standard exam to determine an individual’s level of proficiency in the English language. The test is widely recognised by several countries, including the UK, the USA, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, and accepted by more than 11,000 educational institutions.

The IELTS exam syllabus is developed to evaluate a non-native speaker’s linguistic skills in English. The four skills that serve as the foundation of any language are reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The IELTS syllabus comprises questions and tasks that would determine your fluency in English with respect to these skills.

It is important to make sure which type of IELTS exam syllabus would suit your purpose of visiting abroad. There are two types of IELTS exams: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

The Academic exam is intended for those who plan to enrol in universities or other higher education institutions, while the General Training exam is taken by those who plan to work, or immigrate to an English-speaking country.

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Make sure to determine which exam you should take and start preparing. From section-wise syllabus to preparation tips, we got you covered with everything you should know about the IELTS syllabus 2023.

Also read: IELTS Preparation Books

What is IELTS exam syllabus?

The IELTS syllabus consists of four sections:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Let’s deep dive into each section and learn more about the IELTS syllabus 2023.

Also read IELTS Indicator

IELTS Listening

No. of questions: 40

Duration: 30 minutes

The IELTS exam syllabus is the same for the Academic and General Training versions.

Some of the common question types observed in this section are:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Matching sentence endings
  • Plan, map, or diagram labelling
  • Form, note, table, flow-chart, or summary completion
  • Sentence completion
  • Short answer questions

Here’s a format of questions you can expect in the listening section:

  • A conversation between two individuals in an everyday social context
  • A monologue or speech
  • A conversation among a group of people in an academic environment
  • A monologue in lecture format

IELTS Reading

No. of questions: 40

Duration: 60 minutes

While the question format remains the same, the IELTS exam syllabus for the Academic and General Training versions differ in this section.

You can expect the following format of questions in the IELTS Reading section:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Identifying information and claims
  • Matching sentence endings
  • Matching headings - you are required to assign subheadings from the given options to each part of the passage
  • Sentence completion
  • Data interpretation
  • Short answer questions

Here’s the difference between the IELTS syllabus in the reading section for Academic and General Training exams.

Difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

IELTS AcademicIELTS General Training
The reading section includes three long texts that are descriptive, factual, and analytical.The reading section includes three long texts relevant to an English-speaking environment. The sections are named social survival, workplace survival, and general reading respectively.
The texts will be used from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers.The texts and passages will be obtained from famous books and magazines, mainly in a general context.

IELTS Writing

No. of questions: 2

Duration: 60 minutes

The writing section consists of two brief descriptive essays of 200-250 words, and you are required to complete the part within a duration of 60 minutes. While the format is the same for the IELTS Academic and General Training versions, the concept of the essays will differ.

Writing section for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

TaskIELTS AcademicIELTS General training
Task 1

A data interpretation task, where the questions will be asked from a graph, data, chart, or diagram.


You will be asked to write an essay relevant to the data provided, and describe the same.

A letter-writing task may be a personal, semi-formal, or formal letter.


You are required to write a letter explaining an issue or requesting a piece of information.

Task 2

An interpretation essay, in which you have to express your point of view, argument, or problem.


It is important to keep the tone formal and maintain it in an academic style. Use relevant examples to support your point or opinion.

An essay in which you are required to convey your point of view for an argument or a problem.


It is necessary that the tone should be a little personal.

IELTS Speaking

No. of questions: 3

Duration: 11-14 minutes

The speaking section of the IELTS exam syllabus is considered the most crucial part of the exam. The face-to-face session is divided into three parts and lasts for 11-14 minutes. The format for the speaking section remains the same for IELTS Academic and General Training exams.

Parts in IELTS Speaking section

Speaking section taskFormat
Part 1
  • The examiner will ask general questions about you
  • The questions will likely be about your personal life, academic achievements, family, and others
  • The session lasts for 4-5 minutes
Part 2
  • You will be given a topic mentioned on a card to prepare for a speech
  • You will be given one minute to prepare, and the speech shall go on for two minutes
Part 3
  • The examiner asks you questions related to your previous speech
  • You will share further ideas or thoughts in this part
  • The conversation lasts for 4-5 minutes

Pro tips to prepare for IELTS syllabus 2023

Students tend to find the IELTS exam syllabus difficult due to its vast curriculum. With regular practice and development of language skills, you can easily ace the test. Here are some vital tips for you to prepare for IELTS:

  • Develop your vocabulary by reading more books, magazines, and newspapers. This facilitates the development of your skills in the English language.
  • Improve your grammar by reading books. Observe the sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation they use.
  • Make use of online tests and practice materials. They would help you improve your language skills and increase your pace for the exam.
  • Listening section - Practise listening with the help of podcasts or YouTube videos and outline what you've heard.
  • Reading section - Work on reading long passages by skimming.
    The Reading section would likely take the longest during IELTS. Practice skimming text and familiarise yourself with taking mental notes of the main points in the passage.
  • Writing section - Start practising essay writing every day. Read articles consisting over 300-400 words and develop frameworks to write an essay in a structured format.
  • Speaking section - It is advisable to refrain from memorising any answers. It will confuse you during the assessment.
    Use a range of grammatical structures and practice maintaining fluency instead of using big and unfamiliar words.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is IELTS British English or American English?

You can use either UK or US English. IELTS is an international exam conducted to determine a person’s level of proficiency in the English language. So the exam does not restrict you in using a specific region’s spelling or pronunciation.

What is IELTS exam syllabus?

The IELTS syllabus is designed to check your level of fluency in English through the four fundamental language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The syllabus for listening and speaking sections are the same for IELTS Academic and General Training versions. The reading and writing sections have different syllabus with respect to the purpose of the version.

How can I prepare for IELTS by myself?

With the availability of online exam materials and resources, you can easily prepare for the IELTS exam syllabus by yourself. Improve your vocabulary by reading books, newspapers and magazines, and enhance your grammar to develop your skills in the English language. You can regularly practise and sharpen your skills with the help of test course materials available online.

Are there any pass marks for IELTS?

There are no pass marks for IELTS. Band score above 5 out of 9 is considered a decent result. An IELTS score guide will help you understand the scoring pattern for IELTS syllabus 2023.

Which countries require IELTS?

The IELTS exam is considered proof of proficiency in the English language for academic, migration and career purposes in the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others.

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