IELTS in-depth

Introduction to the IELTS Exam

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely recognized proficiency exam designed to assess your English language skills in areas like listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Thousands of educational institutions and employers accept IELTS scores as proof of the applicant’s English proficiency.

With an increasing number of international students enrolling in universities in English-speaking countries, the IELTS exam allows these institutions to ensure that students have the skills they need to excel in an academic setting and adapt to the demands of studying abroad.


Format and Structure of the IELTS Exam

The IELTS exam consists of four main sections:

  1. Listening: In this section, you will listen to four different recordings and answer questions based on what you’ve heard. This section tests your ability to understand language and accents that you might encounter in an English-speaking country. It lasts approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Reading: This section consists of three reading passages, each accompanied by a series of questions that test your ability to understand various texts, ranging from academic to general. It lasts for 60 minutes.
  3. Writing: In the writing section, you will be given two tasks to complete – write an essay and describe or explain a given topic. This section tests your ability to communicate effectively and coherently in a written format. It lasts for 60 minutes.
  4. Speaking: The speaking section is a one-on-one interview-style assessment where you will be asked to discuss various topics with an examiner. This section tests your ability to express yourself fluently and spontaneously in English. It lasts between 11-14 minutes.

Each of these sections is scored based on a band scale of 0-9, with 0 being the lowest and 9 being an expert user of the English language. Your overall IELTS score is the average of your scores across all four sections.


IELTS Academic vs. IELTS General Training

There are two versions of the IELTS exam: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. As an international student, it’s essential to understand the difference between these two tests and choose the one that best suits your needs.

IELTS Academic is designed for students who plan to study at the undergraduate or postgraduate level in an English-speaking country. This test focuses on the academic language skills required for higher education. If you are aiming to enroll in a university or college abroad, the IELTS Academic is the right choice for you.

IELTS General Training is for people planning to migrate, work, or undertake vocational training in an English-speaking country. This test focuses on everyday English language proficiency in a practical context.

Though the Listening and Speaking sections are the same for both tests, the Reading and Writing sections differ in content and focus.


IELTS Exam Registration and Fees

To register for the IELTS exam, follow these steps:

  1. Find a test center: Search for an authorized IELTS test center near you by visiting the official IELTS website.
  2. Choose a test date: Test centers regularly offer IELTS exams throughout the year. Pick a date that gives you ample time to prepare and suits your schedule.
  3. Complete the registration: Fill out the application form, providing all the necessary details, and pay the exam fee. The IELTS exam fees vary depending on your location, but the average cost is around $225.
  4. Submit identification documents: Along with your registration, you will need to provide a valid passport or national ID card as proof of your identity.
  5. Receive confirmation: After successfully registering, you will receive a confirmation email with further instructions and details about your test day.


Preparation Tips for IELTS Success

Preparing for the IELTS exam might seem daunting, but with the right strategies and dedication, you can achieve the score you desire. Here are some preparation tips that can help:

1. Understand the exam format: Familiarize yourself with the IELTS exam structure and the types of questions you will encounter in each section. Knowing the format will give you a better idea of what to expect on the test day and how to allocate your time.

2. Set clear goals: Determine the band score you are aiming for and create a study plan to work towards that goal. Be realistic with your expectations and consider how much time you can dedicate to preparation.

3. Practice with sample tests: One of the most effective ways to prepare is by taking practice tests. Use official IELTS practice materials, mock tests, and other resources to get familiar with the test format, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and track your progress.

4. Develop your language skills: Focus on improving your overall English language proficiency rather than memorizing answers. Read academic articles, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and engage in conversations to sharpen your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

5. Learn time management strategies: Allocate specific time limits for each section while practicing, so you become accustomed to the pacing of the actual exam. This will help you avoid spending too much time on a single task during the test.

6. Get feedback: Seek advice from teachers, friends, or online forums to identify areas for improvement. Regular feedback will enable you to refine your skills and address your weaknesses.

7. Stay positive and motivated: Confidence and a positive attitude can make a significant difference in your exam performance. Maintain a healthy balance between studying and taking breaks, and don’t forget to reward yourself after achieving milestones in your preparation journey.


Last-minute Tips and Exam Day Reminders

As the test day approaches, keep in mind these last-minute tips and reminders:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep: A well-rested mind is crucial for your performance on the exam day. Ensure you get enough rest leading up to the test.
  2. Arrive early: Plan your transportation and route to the test center so you can arrive with plenty of time to spare. This will help you settle in and avoid unnecessary stress.
  3. Bring necessary documents: Remember to bring your passport or national ID card used during registration, as well as any other required documents specified by your test center.
  4. Dress comfortably: Choose comfortable clothing that suits the testing room’s temperature and helps you remain focused during the test.
  5. Stay calm: Tackling the IELTS exam can be stressful, but it’s essential to maintain composure and focus on each section one at a time. Believe in your preparation and trust your abilities.



The IELTS exam is a significant step in your journey as an international student. With proper preparation, a clear understanding of the test format, and dedication, you can overcome the challenges it presents and unlock the doors to your dream education abroad. Stay confident, and remember, we at Studey are here to support you every step of the way, as we’ve been in your shoes as international students ourselves. Best of luck with your IELTS exam and future endeavors!

Have a question? 

We are a young and growing team united by one mission: making every International student story a successful one.