How Long is the IELTS?

How Long is the IELTS?
How long does the IELTS last? An eternity, if you have test anxiety! Joking aside, IELTS exam duration is quite manageable.

Let’s look at the exam timetable. Knowing your test day tasks and how long they take can “de-mystify” the test. This can reduce your test anxiety, and help you walk into the test centre with confidence.

IELTS Exam Duration by Section

Since each section of the IELTS has its own time limit, it’s a good idea to look at a section-by-section breakdown of the exam.

The IELTS Listening section is 30 minutes long. In both the Academic IELTS and the General Training IELTS, you listen to four audio tracks, followed by exam questions. This means you get an average of 7.5 minutes for each audio recording and associated question set.

Next, IELTS Reading. This section is 60 minutes long on both sections of the IELTS. However, the division of time within the section is different, depending on the type of IELTS you’re taking.

IELTS Academic contains four longer university-style educational passages. General training, in contrast, has shorter passages on average. But IELTS GT also has more passages: 2-3 short nonfiction readings, 2 short work-related texts, and just one long academic piece. So your time is actually more divided on the General Training IELTS.

Then there’s IELTS Writing. In both versions of the test, you’re given one hour to complete one shorter writing task of at least 150 words, and one longer essay of 250 words or more. The exact nature of the shorter task is different, though. In IELTS General Training, you write a letter to someone. In IELTS Academic, you need to summarise the information you see in a chart or table.

Going into the IELTS Writing section, think about what task will be the hardest to do quickly. Then pace yourself carefully, so that you can do a good job on both tasks in the allotted time.

This brings us to the last part of the IELTS: the IELTS Speaking interview. The interview will last 11-14 minutes, and the IELTS examiner who interviews you will manage the pace. So in most of this section, you won’t need to carefully manage your pace on your own.

However, for the extended Speaking question based on the IELTS topic card, you do need to watch your time. Here, you have just 60 seconds to prepare your response. Then your spoken response has a two-minute time limit. (See Trisha’s post on the IELTS Speaking “long turn” for more information.)

So how long is the IELTS test in total?

Doing the math, the IELTS exam overall takes about 2 and 3/4 hours. Listening, Reading, and Writing take a total of 2 hours and thirty minutes. The end-of-exam interview takes up another 15 minutes or so. You don’t get a chance for a break between any section, so this timetable is pretty much fixed. Count on being in the exam for a bit less than 3 hours.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

4 Responses to How Long is the IELTS?

  1. Alexander Noon January 28, 2020 at 10:29 am #

    Please could you help me My Philippine fiance needs to prepare for IELTS test to help enable herself entry to UK to get married to myself Exactly what IELTS test does she apply to take I have been told this is the A1 IELTS Speaking And Listening (Academic) British Council…. Please,is this correct ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 29, 2020 at 10:02 am #

      Hi Alexander,

      We are not experts in immigration rules, but do have a blog post that might help to point you in the right direction: IELTS for UK Visa and Immigration.

      • Chinweikpe Enyioko August 29, 2020 at 3:24 am #

        Please sir, I would like to know the fate of the student after writing the iELTS exams.
        Is there any specific cut off mark that guarantee a student he has pass the exam?

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 6, 2020 at 1:43 pm #

          Hi Chinweikpe!

          The score that you’ll need to “pass” the IELTS depends on the minimum requirement for the schools that you are interested in attending or for the countries that you are interested in moving to. 🙂 The best information will come from those schools admissions websites or the country’s immigration website.

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