offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh IELTS Prep.

IELTS Practice Tests: Where to Find IELTS Sample Tests

A full-length IELTS practice test is a good resource to assess your English level as well as to estimate your IELTS score. But how do you fit an IELTS sample test into your overall prep? And where can you find a good IELTS practice test PDF, book, or website? For that matter, how should you use your IELTS practice test Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking sections?

Read on, for the answers to all of these questions, and more!

ielts practice tests: everything you need to know about your IELTS sample test, including where to get a good IELTS practice test PDF, and which IELTS test sample provides the best practice

Table of Contents

Why Should I Take an IELTS Practice Test?

1. To test your communication skills and academic ability

Yes, the IELTS is a test of your English skills. But the IELTS also assesses your communication abilities and academic skills. The IELTS General Training exam has extra emphasis on communication skills. In this version of the IELTS, you face a series of communication-related questions in both Reading and Listening. Then, when it comes to academics, the IELTS Academic test deals with a variety of undergraduate university-level content.

2. To test your test-taking ability

Like all standardised exams, the IELTS also tests your test-taking ability. It may seem strange to think of an exam as a test of your skill in taking exams. But it does make sense when you think about it. On any exam, good test strategy skills are an important key to success.

To pass the IELTS, you need to master multiple-choice strategy, exam note-taking techniques, pacing in test sections, etc..

In regular English practice materials, you don’t necessarily get practice in IELTS communication skills, academic content, or strategy. To practice all of these things at the same time, you really need to take an actual IELTS practice test.

3. To simulate the testing experience

IELTS test centres don’t feel much like a regular classroom or study hall. The “feel” of a real, full IELTS test can be a shock. Some IELTS exam takers find the real test to be harder than they imagined. This can cause them to lose confidence, focus, and points from their score.

There’s no way to duplicate the test-day experience perfectly, but under the right circumstances, you can replicate the situation with an IELTS sample test. The trick is to find a well-designed IELTS practice test, and take it under test-centre like conditions (use a timer, sit at a desk, minimize background noise, and so on).

ielts up button

When Should I Take an IELTS Sample Test?

You should take one practice test at the very beginning of your studies. This will help you figure out your “baseline” IELTS ability. Your baseline ability is the ability on the IELTS that you already have, before you start practicing. Once you see the score on your IELTS sample test, you’ll have an idea of how much more practice you need in order to reach your target score.

It can also help to take practice tests periodically throughout your IELTS prep. Sometimes you’ll want to take just one part of a an IELTS practice test. (Either an IELTS practice test Listening section, an IELTS practice test Reading section, an IELTS practice test Writing section, or an IELTS Speaking interview.) At other times, it’s useful to set aside a few hours and complete a full-length practice exam in one sitting.

For an example of how to schedule your IELTS practice exams, see Magoosh’s one-month study schedule for the academic IELTS. Or for more short-term study, check out the way practice tests are used in our one-week IELTS study schedule.

ielts up button

IELTS Practice Tests: Academic IELTS vs. General Training IELTS

The IELTS comes in two distinctly different formats, with different content. Well… somewhat different content. Both versions of the exam have the exact same Listening and Speaking sections.

It’s the Reading and Writing sections that differ between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. But even on these sections, there’s some overlap between the two exams. IELTS Academic Reading consists entirely of longer educational passages, but an IELTS practice test Reading section for General Training will still have one such passage. And the Writing Sections for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training both have the same second and final task: an academic opinion essay about a social issue.

The other Reading and Writing content in IELTS General Training is what makes it unique.

In addition to one academic passage, General Training Reading contains a number of reading materials related to work and every day life. This includes bulletins, tables, short informative articles on tourism or work procedures, and so on.

Similarly, the first of the two General Training Writing tasks involves a practical “daily life” writing activity. Common tasks here include writing an email to a friend or crafting a workplace memo.

So which version of the practice test should you take? This brings me to the most important difference between the two versions of the test: the reason for taking the exam.

True to its name, IELTS Academic is used for admission into university. But the Academic version of the exam has another purpose as well. It’s used for visas for medical work in English language countries. So if you want an overseas job in healthcare, this is the version of the exam that you’ll need to take. (For more information, see our blog post on IELTS for medical professionals.)

For pretty much any other kind of immigration or work-related testing, you’ll need the General Training IELTS. The IELTS GT is your go-to exam if you want to move to an English speaking country but are not a student or a medical professional.

Whichever version you need, it’s pretty easy to to differentiate your practice test. The timing and number of questions is the same on either version, so you don’t have to worry about that. And all the official sources for IELTS practice tests will separate and clearly label the General Training and Academic IELTS practice test PDFs. Good third-party IELTS prep resources also separate and label practice materials for GT and Academic.

ielts up button

Where Can I Find an IELTS practice test free download, or an IELTS practice test PDF, website, or book?

The answer to that question? All over the web! A quick Google search will pull up tons of IELTS practice tests, and many an IELTS practice test free download. (Most of these come in the form of an IELTS practice test PDF, but there are many other formats too.)

Of course that’s only a partial answer. The trick is to find IELTS sample tests that are of truly good quality. Not all IELTS practice tests have questions that are like the ones on the real test. Truly IELTS-like practice questions are important. If you take a practice IELTS test that’s not much like the real one, you won’t be prepared for the actual exam.

Free Resources: Official and Unofficial IELTS Online Tests

As I mentioned, the Internet is an excellent source of free IELTS practice tests. And there are certainly some good full length IELTS sample tests out there, if you know where to look.

The best IELTS online tests are the ones from the official IELTS websites. Every website offers a free IELTS practice test PDF, or rather multiple IELTS practice test PDFs. Below, I’ve gathered links to the official free IELTS practice tests, with some notes on how to use these resources.

The British Council’s IELTS Practice Online

  • One full practice test for Academic, one full practice test for GT
  • The Academic and General Training Tests share the same questions for Listening and Speaking.

IELTS Sample Tests on

  • PDFs focus on question types rather than test sections.
  • PDFs can be combined to make one full Academic or GT practice test.

Free IELTS Practice Tests From Cambridge

  • Sections and full tests for both GT and Academic.
  • Free registration and login required for access.

IELTS Liz: The Best Unofficial Source For Free Practice Tests

  • The website and practice questions are made by a former IELTS examiner.
  • Practice questions are not organised into full tests, but there is enough material for at least one practice exam each for Academic and GT.

More Details on How to Access the Official Tests Above, and How to Access an Official IELTS Course Material Free Download As Well

Putting together the material for your free official tests can be tricky, especially on and Cambridge. For more information on how to use these free practice exam services, see our blog post on how to use the official IELTS websites.

And remember, these websites also give you access to support material for your IELTS test sample. Follow the instructions in the linked article above, and you’ll be able to get an IELTS course material free download from each website, in addition to your IELTS practice test free download.

Paid Resource: Cambridge Books

Cambridge publishes all official IELTS books. And the majority of Cambridge’s IELTS books contain full-length practice exams. These exams are truly authentic, with questions that are taken from real previous IELTS tests.

I especially recommend the practice tests in three particular Cambridge IELTS books: Official IELTS Practice Materials Vol. 1, Official IELTS Practice Materials Vol. 2, and the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.

Paid Resource: Get an IELTS Test Sample from Magoosh IELTS Right Now!

Magoosh IELTS will be offering full-length IELTS practice tests by early 2018. These tests will be available to our premium subscribers.

In the meantime, a Magoosh IELTS subscription is still a great source of practice questions. And right now, we already have almost enough material for a full test. Currently, you can get the following on Magoosh IELTS Premium: 5 full IELTS Speaking sections, 4 full IELTS practice test Writing sections for Academic, 4 full IELTS practice test Writing sections for General Training, and 1 full IELTS practice test Reading section for Academic.

We have additional partial sections for every part of IELTS Academic and IELTS GT. So use IELTS Premium for a good IELTS test sample now, and for a topnotch full practice exam a few months from now.

And if your not quite ready to subscribe, browse the free material right here on the Magoosh IELTS Blog. This is a great place to get an IELTS course material free download or two. And our blog posts can help you prepare for your IELTS test sample practice too!

ielts up button

How to Take a Full-Length Practice Test

Once you’ve found some good full IELTS practice tests, you’ll want to take the tests correctly. By this, I mean you’ll need to take the practice tests under the same conditions as the real IELTS exam.

Use the Correct IELTS Test Structure

Sometimes, you need to piece together a full IELTS test from a set of practice questions. (See and IELTS Liz, as described earlier in this article.) In that case, it’s important to know how many questions or parts that each IELTS section has.

In other cases, you’ll be given whole sections that you can put together into one exam. (See the British Council’s IELTS exams, as well as some of the Cambridge website resources.) In this situation, you still need to be aware of the overall test structure, so you can do the sections in correct order.

Finally, there are some times when you’ll be given an entire exam in proper order. (Seen in most Cambridge IELTS books, and in Magoosh IELTS’s soon-to-be-released full practice test.) In that case, you still need to be aware of when to take breaks. You should also know a few special things about the Speaking section, regarding its place in the IELTS test section sequence.

With that in mind, let’s look at the structure of the IELTS. We’ll look at individual sections first, and then we’ll take a look at how the whole test works.

Structure of IELTS Listening
Number of questions: 40
Number of audio tracks: 4
Type of audio tracks: 2 conversations, 2 monologues
Time limit: 30 minutes to answer questions, 10 minutes to transfer the questions over to your answer sheet

IELTS Practice Test Reading Section for Academic
Number of questions: 40
Number of reading passages: 3 long academic passages
Type of reading passages: long academic passages
Time limit: 60 minutes

IELTS Practice Test Reading Section for General Training
Number of questions: 40
Number of reading passages: 4-5 short passages, 1 long passage
Type of reading passages: 2-3 short passages related to daily life, 2 short passages related to work, 1 long academic passage
Time limit: 60 minutes

IELTS Academic Writing
Number of tasks: 40
Types of tasks: TASK 1: essay that summarizes info from a chart or table, TASK 2: academic opinion essay on a social issue
Task lengths: TASK 1: minimum of 150 words, TASK 2: minimum of 250 words
Time limit: 60 minutes

IELTS General Training Writing
Number of tasks: 40
Types of tasks: TASK 1: a personal or work-related letter, TASK 2: academic opinion essay on a social issue
Task lengths: TASK 1: minimum of 150 words, TASK 2: minimum of 250 words
Time limit: 60 minutes

IELTS Speaking
Type of task: 3 part interview
Number of questions: approximately 13 (5 short questions in part 1, 2 long questions and 2 short questions in part 2, 5 short questions in part 3)
Time limit: 11-14 minutes
Interviewer: In the IELTS Speaking section, you’ll be interviewed by an actual human being. To correctly practice the interview, find a speaking partner if possible.
Additional details on structure: See Magoosh’s Complete Guide to IELTS Speaking.

IELTS Sequence: In What Order Should You Do the Practice Sections?

At most IELTS test centres, the sequence of the sections is the same as the list immediately above. You will complete the Listening section, followed by the Reading section. Then you’ll complete your two IELTS Writing tasks. And finally, you’ll enter the IELTS Speaking interview.

However, the Speaking section’s place in the sequence can be different at different test centres. While most IELTS test sites give the Speaking interview last, some centres handle Speaking very differently. You may be asked to complete the interview first, before the remaining three sections. And some centres, you may even sit the IELTS Speaking interview on a different day or week than the rest of the exam.

Obviously, you’ll want your sequence for Speaking to match your real exam. Talk to your test centre to see how they schedule the Speaking section, in relation to the other IELTS sections.

IELTS Practice Tests: When to Take Breaks

There are no breaks during the first three sections of the IELTS test. For a truly IELTS-like practice test, you should go straight from Listening to your IELTS practice test Reading section, and then straight from Reading to the IELTS Writing section.

There will usually be a break between IELTS Speaking and the rest of the exam. To know how long that break will be, check with the exam centre where you’ll sit your IELTS. Then use the correct break time in your own IELTS practice tests.

Timing Your IELTS Practice Tests

On test day, two things will help you keep an eye on your IELTS section time limits: a wall clock, and the proctor. The proctor is the person who supervises students during the exam.

The proctor will announce the time limit at the beginning of the test. Then, the IELTS exam proctor will announce time checks during the test section. The proctor tells students when there is 40 minutes left, 20 minutes left, and 5 minutes left. The proctor also announces when the time is up. And during all this, you can of course also look at the wall clock.

Obviously, you won’t have a proctor present during your practice tests. But that added detail isn’t necessary. What’s most important is that you have some kind of timer system that matches the IELTS time limits.

During your practice tests, keep a clock in plain view. Use that clock with an timer app such as Google Timer. For your virtual timer, set 30 minutes for Listening, 10 minutes for transferring Listening answers to the answer sheet, 60 minutes for your IELTS practice test Reading section, and so on.

Learn to monitor your own time, without glancing at the clock too frequently. With enough practice, you’ll get a strong sense of the IELTS time limits. By test day, you may not even need the proctor’s guidance at all.

Pacing and Endurance on Your IELTS Sample Test

Time-consciousness is good. But there’s more to time management than just watching the clock.

On your IELTS practice tests, you should also practice pacing skills. This means making the best use of the time you’re given for a section or task. It also means learning how to work quickly enough to finish all the questions on time, without rushing and making mistakes.

Remember though—answering IELTS questions well and answering them quickly are not the same thing. Accuracy and pacing are two separate skills. Of these two skills, accuracy is the most important. You can give your answers as quickly as you want. But if you’re not giving good answers, no amount of speed will get you a good score.

So when you first start doing IELTS practice tests and IELTS practice questions, don’t stop when your time is up. Instead, take as long as you need. This allows you to focus on accuracy—the most important IELTS skill—first.

For instance, if you get to 60 minutes in an IELTS practice test Reading section and you’re still not quite done yet, keep working. You should even take time to go back and double check your Reading answers if you need to. To give another example, in your first few IELTS practice test Writing sections, keep writing until you are sure you’ve written both tasks well.

Make note of how long your first IELTS practice tests take you. If you’re over time, keep practicing. As you get more comfortable with the IELTS questions and tasks, you’ll also get faster. Soon, you’ll be ready to hold yourself to the time limits. But you don’t need to follow them at first.

The same is true of your endurance skills, your ability to work on the IELTS without getting tired and needing breaks.

When you first start doing practice tests, stop and rest if you absolutely have to. Make note of how much that slows you down. Then learn to take slower breaks as you get more comfortable. By test day, be ready to do the first three sections without breaks. But you don’t need to do that in your earliest practice tests.

ielts up button

How to Score Your IELTS Sample Test

Once you’ve successfully taken a full-length IELTS sample test, the next step is to score it. There are a number of good tools out there for scoring your IELTS practice test. Read on!

Scoring Your IELTS Practice Test Reading Section and Listening Section

To score your IELTS practice test Reading and Listening sections, check the answer keys after you finish a practice IELTS test. The answer keys will show you your raw score. The raw score is the amount of questions you got right.

Once you have your raw scores for Listening and Reading, you can convert them into IELTS band scores. The IELTS itself does have an official chart to do this. You can find this on the “IELTS Scoring in Detail” page from

Unfortunately, the official score conversion chart for IELTS Listening and Reading is incomplete. The chart only covers some of the bands, without showing raw score conversions for the highest and lowest IELTS bands.

That’s frustrating, but there is a fix. In my experience, the unofficial IELTS Raw Score Calculator website is pretty accurate for scoring either an IELTS test sample for Listening or an IELTS practice test Reading sample. You can enter your raw scores into that website. Or you can look at the following very useful chart, based on the website:

how to convert IELTS Practice test Reading section raw scores on an IELTS sample test, and how to convert Listening scores too

Source: Wikipedia

Scoring Your IELTS Sample Test: IELTS Practice Test Writing and Speaking Sections

The IELTS practice test Writing and Speaking sections don’t come with an answer key. Instead, use the IELTS band descriptors for Writing Task 1, Writing Task 2, and Speaking. These give good descriptions of the score levels for these two sections.

To score your IELTS Speaking practice section and IELTS practice test Writing section, you can look at the band descriptors on your own. However, it’s hard to assess your own English. If possible, IELTS essays and speech should be reviewed by a tutor or uploaded to an IELTS forum such as the IELTS Network. For your IELTS practice test Writing and Speaking sections, it’s always best to have someone else help you estimate your band scores.

Estimating your Whole-Test Score for an IELTS Practice Exam

The first step to getting your whole test score is to calculate your individual scores for IELTS practice test Writing, Listening, Reading, and Speaking sections (as described above).

Once you have those four scores, average them together. Then round up or down to the nearest 0.5. For example, if the average of your four sections is 6.25, that rounds up to a band 6.5 for your IELTS practice test. Following that pattern, a 6.125 would round down to 6, and a 5.75 would round up to Band 7.

ielts up button

Learning from Your Mistakes in IELTS Sample Tests

You can always learn from mistakes. But the best time to learn from your mistakes is before test day. An IELTS sample test is a chance to make mistakes, risk free. Learn from your mistakes now, and you won’t make as many mistakes once you’re sitting in the real IELTS test centre.

So keep an error log. What’s an error log, you may ask? It’s just what you’d expect. It’s a log, or record, of the errors and mistakes you make on your IELTS practice test.

When you get a wrong answer in IELTS Listening or Reading, make note of this in your error log. Write down the question number, and note the IELTS Reading question types or IELTS Listening question types that you’ve missed. Be sure to also make note of what concepts and skills were tested, such as word meaning, listening for number words, and so on. Finally, make note of what you could do in order to avoid similar mistakes in the future. (EX: notice the context around an unfamiliar word, work on distinguishing between the sound of “17” and “70,” and so on.)

For Writing and Speaking, and error log will work a bit differently. In these sections, record any problems you might have with pacing, organization, pronunciation, grammar, and so on. You can adjust your studies based on the log, focusing on your weaknesses in these two sections.

ielts up button

IELTS Practice Test Tips

So far, we’ve looked at test structure, scoring, timing, pacing, and error logs.

Now we’re going to look at specific ways to improve when you practice each of the four IELTS sections.

IELTS Practice Test Reading Tips

  • Know your question formats. IELTS Reading questions come in several different formats and types. See Kuangyan’s post on IELTS Reading question types.
  • Don’t assume every passage has the same number of questions. The 40 questions in IELTS Reading are not evenly spread across all four passages. In fact, that wouldn’t even be possible. The number of passages in IELTS Academic Reading is 3, which does not divide evenly into 40. And the IELTS General Training Reading section has some very short passages and some longer ones. So when you’re taking an IELTS practice test, pace yourself in terms of time per question, not in terms of time per passage.
  • Practice reading before, during, and after the practice test. The best way to improve your English reading skills is to read, read, read! So make sure you are reading English language texts in your spare time. Your IELTS practice test Reading section should not be your only source of English reading practice.
  • Learn and apply the best IELTS Reading tips. Your IELTS practice tests are the best place to practice new English reading skills that you’re learning. Check out our blog’s IELTS Reading page for links to all sorts of helpful tutorials. Study these. Then use what you’ve learned on the practice tests.

IELTS Practice Test Listening Tips

  • Know the different accents. The IELTS Listening section features and variety of “native English” accent (British, American, Australian, etc…) Be ready for any of these types of English. For more information, see our blog post on the different IELTS Listening accents.
  • Know those question types. Like IELTS Reading, IELTS Listening has a variety of question types and formats. And here again, Magoosh has got you covered. Our article on IELTS Listening question types includes links to example questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to replay the audio. Now, on the test itself, you can’t replay anything you’ve just listened to. But on your practice tests, if you don’t understand the audio the first time, listen again. This extra listening practice is beneficial on the first sample IELTS test, and maybe even the second and third. Taking time to double check things you don’t understand will strengthen your listening skills. Eventually, you’ll be able to understand the audio on the first try.
  • Master good approaches to IELTS Listening. IELTS Success is all about learning the skills and applying them. And practice tests are the best place to apply those skills. To develop skills for your practice tests (and your real exam), check out Magoosh’s Complete Guide to IELTS Listening.

IELTS Practice Test Speaking Tips

  • Know the IELTS Speaking topics. Yes, the IELTS Speaking interview is a conversation. But it’s not like a disorganized “real life” conversation. No, the IELTS Speaking interview is much more predictable. There are certain topics that are very likely to be discussed.
  • Know those question types. Like IELTS Reading, IELTS Listening has a variety of question types and formats.
  • Have courage, my friend. Courage and confidence. Nervousness is one of the biggest threats to your IELTS Speaking score. If you are nervous, you won’t know what to say, and you may have trouble paying attention to what the interviewer is saying. Moreover, a lack of confidence can make your speech sound very unnatural. So when you’re in the interview, try to focus just on having a conversation. Don’t worry about your score. And certainly don’t worry about what the interviewer thinks of your English. You’ll know what they think after you see your IELTS Listening score. Until then, don’t let worry destroy your confidence.
  • Practice note-taking for the IELTS Speaking “long turn.” In Part 2 your IELTS Speaking interview, you’ll do a “long turn.” You’ll need to organize and prepare a short speech. Organization is key. And the secret to good organization is good notes. You’ll get a chance to write down a few notes about what you’ll say. Practice taking good notes that are simple yet helpful. For more details on Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking section, see Eliot’s article on IELTS Speaking Part 2.

IELTS Practice Test Writing Tips

  • Know your tasks. IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 requires you to describe the information in a graph or table. In IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, you’ll need to write a letter, one that is either personal, or work-related. And in Writing Task 2 on both versions of the test, you must write an academic opinion essay. Know your tasks well so that you can build good skills in IELTS practice tests. (And click the links in this paragraph for guides to each IELTS Writing task.)
  • Study common IELTS essay topics. Yes, you read that right. Much like IELTS Speaking, IELTS Writing Task 2 has a predictable set of common topics. So where can you go to study these topics? The best resource for this is the IELTS practice tests themselves! The IELTS essay questions in any sample IELTS test are similar to the one you might see on the real exam. So consult the free and paid IELTS tests I mentioned earlier in this article.
  • Practice pre-writing.I tutor a lot of IELTS students. From this experience, I know that pre-writing can make or break an IELTS practice test Writing section score. And of course, the same goes for your IELTS Writing score on the real exam! It’s very important to write an outline before you start writing the actual letter or essay. A good outline will be complete yet simple. Use phrases rather than complete sentences. Just make sure you quickly write down all your key ideas, so you can easily write them into your essay. Magoosh has pre-writing and organisation tips for each of the three IELTS Writing Tasks: IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, and IELTS Writing Task 2.
  • Study good IELTS Writing techniques, then use those techniques in your IELTS practice test Writing sections. As always, you should use any sample IELTS test to apply the IELTS tips you’ve been learning. Consult Magoosh’s IELTS Writing portal, and use our tutorials for your IELTS practice test Writing sections.

ielts up button

IELTS Sample Test Resources and Final Thoughts

Whether you are taking advantage of an official IELTS practice materials free download, or purchasing an IELTS book, IELTS practice tests are an important part of your complete IELTS test prep. But they’re not the only prep materials you should use.

It’s important to use these IELTS practice tests alongside other good practice activities and materials. For information on the best practice tests and the best general prep materials, see our guide to the best IELTS books and resources. And remember that just about any good website that offers an IELTS practice test free download will also offer an IELTS course material free download.

You’ve also seen quite a few other IELTS practice test resources linked throughout this article. As you go through your practice IELTS tests and prepare for the real thing, always use the best support you can find.

Above all, remember that the purpose of an IELTS practice test isn’t to score as high as possible. The real purpose of every sample IELTS test is to learn. Grow and improve during your IELTS tests, and you’ll be ready to get a top score when you finally sit the real thing.

So go out there and find an IELTS practice test PDF, such as an IELTS practice test free download form one of the official websites, or a Cambridge IELTS book. You now know how to find these exams and put them to good use!

ielts up button

By the way, sign up for our 1-week free trial to try out Magoosh IELTS prep!Most Popular Resources   * IELTS Lessons  <><noscript><img class=

One Response to IELTS Practice Tests: Where to Find IELTS Sample Tests

  1. Catherine Roberts September 13, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    Thank you so much.

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply