IELTS Exam Pattern 2021: Paper Pattern, Marking Scheme, Negative Marking

Exam Date

Jan 9, 2021

Apr 7, 2021 | Science

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The IELTS exam pattern for each section is discussed below. Candidates must go through it carefully to gauge the kind of preparation required for the exam.

IELTS Exam Pattern

Test Duration: The duration of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The IELTS 2021 exam is of two categories, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both of these categories consists of 4 sections each. They are

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Listening
  4. Speaking

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training have the same pattern for Listening and Speaking. For the sections of Writing and Reading, the IELTS Academic is much tougher than IELTS General Training. Check the IELTS syllabus for more details.

Listening

The registered candidates will listen to four recordings of native English speakers. Candidates are supposed to then write answers to a series of questions. The listening section is claimed as one of the toughest sections by candidates because you will hear the word only one time and it carries 40 marks in a component band score of the IELTS exam.

Listening Exam Contents

Recording 1

A conversation between two people

Everyday social 

Recording 2

A Monologue

Everyday social 

Recording 3

A conversation between four people

Educational or Training 

Recording 4

A recording of a subject lecture

Educational or Training

Recording 4

A Monologue

Academic 

Recording

Context

Listening Exam Facts

Sections

4

Timing

30 minutes

No. of Questions

4 * 10 = 40

Marks

1 mark for every correct answer

Note: All answer sheets, after being marked, are further analysed by Cambridge Assessment English. Poor spelling and grammar mistakes are also penalised.

The various types of questions in IELTS listening section have been mentioned below:

Task Types

Type 1

Type 2 

Type 3

Type 4

Type 5

Type 6

Multiple Choice

 Matching

Plan, map, diagram labelling

Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary

Sentence Completion

Short-answer questions

Choose one or sometimes more than one answer.

Match the numbered list of items.

 Candidates have to select the answer from a list on the question paper.

Candidates are required to select their answers from a list on the question paper or identify the missing words from the recording select their answers from a list on the question paper or identify the missing words from the recording

Candidates are supposed to fill a gap in each sentence using information from the listening text.

Write a short answer using the listening text.

Speaking

The speaking test is conducted to test the fluency of the candidate's language speaking ability. Depending on the number of people taking the exam, the candidate can either finish this on the same day or would be asked to return the following day.

Speaking Exam Facts

Number of Parts

3

Timing

11-14 minutes

Format

Oral test

Part 1

Introduction and Interview

Part 2

Long Turn

Part 3

Discussion

Focus

  • Fluency and Coherence

  • Lexical Resource

  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  • Pronunciation

Academic Reading

The IELTS Reading exam for academic purpose contains questions that are designed to check the academic understanding of the candidate. The paragraphs are generally taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. 

Academic Reading Exam Facts

No. of Sections

3

Duration

60 minutes

Task

Variety

No. of Questions

40

No. of Marks

1 * 40 = 40

General Training Reading

The IELTS Reading Exam for General Training is designed to check the general reading skills of the candidate. The material is general in nature, and the text is taken from books, magazines, newspapers etc.

General Training Reading Exam Facts

No. of sections

3

Duration

60 minutes

Task

Variety

No. of Questions

40

No. of Marks

1 * 40 = 40

Academic Writing

The IELTS Writing Exam of Academic purpose is to test the candidate of his descriptive and derivative writing skills of English.

Academic Writing Exam Facts

Duration

60 minutes

Number of Tasks

2

Task 1

Describe the visual information

(Word Count: 150

Time: 20 minutes)

Task 2

Respond to a point of view or an argument or a problem

(Word Count: 250

Time: 40 minutes)

General Training Writing

The IELTS Writing Exam of General Training purpose is to test the general writing skills of the candidate.

General Training Writing Exam Facts

Duration

60 minutes

No. of Questions

2

No. of Tasks

2

Task 1 Assessed on 

  • Task Achievement

  • Coherence and cohesion

  • Lexical Resource

  • Grammatical range and accuracy

(Word Count: 150

Time: 20 minutes)

Task 2 Assessed on

  • Task Response

  • Coherence and cohesion

  • Lexical Resource

  • Grammatical range and accuracy

(Word Count: 250

Time: 40 minutes)

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