Essential Ideas about IELTS

Pay careful attention to these ideas and use them to maximise your score.

  1. The test is predictable. This is good news because it means that you should already know the structures of the test, the question types and the types of answers that will get you a high score.
  2. IELTS is all about speed. To succeed in IELTS you need to think quickly, work quickly and make quick decisions in all sections of the test.
  3. Learn the structure by heart. To avoid surprises on test day, you should do enough practice tests so that you know exactly what to expect next and which strategy you should use to succeed.
  4. IELTS mostly focuses on the English which is commonly used in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  5. IELTS looks at trends and changes in many parts of culture over time.
  6. IELTS often refers to international issues that are researched at university.
  7. You need to improve your general knowledge and keep up-to-date with news and current events.
  8. You should read materials such as Time Magazine and daily newspapers and listen to news radio, so current and relevant examples from the world can be used for the speaking and writing sections.
  9. You need to think critically. This means candidates need to give opinions, make choices and analyse information.
  10. Using exam strategies is very important to gain a high mark on the ex

IELTS Test Structure

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test is divided into four skill areas: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

The IELTS test has two different versions:

  • General Training IELTS test
  • Academic IELTS test

The General Training and Academic tests have the same listening and speaking sections as can be seen in the table below.

Section Time  



Listening 40 mins  

Same for General & Academic IELTS


Reading 60 mins  

Different for General & Academic IELTS


Writing 60 mins  

Different for General & Academic IELTS


Speaking 14 – 15 mins  

Same for General & Academic



Common IELTS Topics

Look at the following topics which are often used for IELTS tests. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What topics do you already know a lot about?
  • What topics do you need to know more about?
  • In the test, you may have to speak about these topics. Can you do so?
  • For example, can you speak about environmental issues confidently using the vocabulary from the ‘Environment’ section in the table below.
  • If science was an essay topic, could you write 250 words about it?

Spend time reading information about the areas you know little about.

Family  family members, jobs, accommodation, location, background
Culture  language, customs, lifestyle, traditions, events, history
Festivals  celebrations, national holidays, memorable occasions, anniversaries
Events  promotions, competitions, sports, conferences
Education  exams, study, schedule, students, lectures, primary, secondary, tertiary
Public Transport  taxi, bus, train, ferry, future, home town travel
Environment  global warming, pollution, fossil fuels, renewable energy, carbon emissions
Population  cities, rural, population growth, trends, overpopulation
Internet communication, information, online, trends, shopping, social media
Science  biology, physics, chemistry, theories, experiments, scientific research
Technology  mobile phones, computers, advancements, devices
Economics  demand, supply, imports, exports, recession, growth, debt
Space  exploration, travel, discoveries, planets, solar system, universe
Inventions  inventors, famous inventions, changes over time, discoveries
Travel  tourism, trends, domestic, international, air, destination, tourist attraction
Water  shortages, policies, dams, desalination, clean drinking water, fresh water
Law  lawyers, legislation, patents, rulings, judge, jury, legal, illegal, courts
Society  opinions, beliefs, trends, changes, progress, class

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