Free Resources, Tips & Tricks for IELTS

IELTS Reading

You’ll be given 3 reading passages and 40 questions and you’ll also be given a separate answer sheet to write down your answers. DURATION: 60 minutes. Each passage will have 12-14 questions. Out of the 11 question types, you’ll only receive about 6 of them and some will be repeated.

  • For Reading Passage 1, you might get Match Headings, Multiple Choice and Short Answer.
  • For Reading Passage 2, you might get Multiple Choice again, Y/N/NG or Match Sentence Endings
  • For Reading Passage 3, you might get Match Headings again, T/F/NG and Summary Completion

Before answering a question, it’s very important you read the question instructions especially for short answers and gap fill questions. These instructions will tell you how many words to use in your answer and there are a number of possible instructions you might see. For example, “USE NO MORE THAN ONE WORD (ONE WORD ONLY)”, “USE NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS (ONE OR TWO WORDS)”, “USE NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS (ONE, TWO OR THREE WORDS)” or the instructions might say that “NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER” (can write a number, a word, or, a number and a word). The instructions might say that “NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER”, “NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER”

Helpful Hints:

It is important to know that only the answer sheet is marked. Examiners will not look at your test booklet. Whatever you write on your answer sheet is what you’re going to be scored on. You WON’T be given extra time to transfer your answers so you need to do this in your 60 minutes. Make sure your writing is clear and easy to read and also make sure you spell your answers correctly. Although your answer is correct, a small spelling error will cost you a point. Same goes with grammar. Be careful.

IELTS Writing


Task overview

In this task, you’ll have 20 minutes to describe information represented in a chart, table or diagram in 150 words or more. On test day, you will see one of five images. You might see a line graph, a bar chart, pie chart(s), a table of data or a process diagram. You have to present the description in your own words.

Task instruction:

Above the image on your test paper will be an instruction explaining what you have to do. The task instruction never changes. It’s always the same. It will say:

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. (The key words here are: summarize, select, report and compare.)

Checklist – What to do before you start writing

The Wh-Questions

  • SUBJECT(S): Who or What is being described?
  • Read the Task Introduction and identify the main subject (person or thing) of the table/graph.
  • Look at the table/graph to check if other subjects are being described.
  • NUMBERS: What kind of number(s) is/are being described?
  • Numbers
  • Percentages
  • Measurements
  • Money
  • Years
  • Age groups
  • PLACE: Where

    Choose your tenses
  • Present Tense: used when no time is given
  • Past Tense: when a finished time is given
  • E.g. 1998   or   1997-2000 or January (of this year)
  • Present Perfect: when the table(s) and graph(s) show past and present, and an indication of change is needed
  • E.g. Numbers have increased since 1998
  • The Main Trends – Decide how to organize your Task 1 writing
  • Find the most striking feature(s) of the graph or table.

    Start writing the Introduction and Body

  • Write the Introduction. PARAPHRASE the Task 1 Introduction. DO NOT COPY.
  • Write your Body paragraphs. Make sure you:
  • Write clearly/legibly
  • Make clear paragraphs (i.e. indent properly)
  • Include all significant data

    The Conclusion
  • Must summarize the main idea/main trends.
  • You must have a good understanding of the table(s) or graph(s) before you start writing.
  • You need to use some of the data (e.g. percentages, numbers, fractions, etc.) to illustrate your points BUT do not repeat all the data given.

Sample Question with Answer

The two pie charts below show total world energy consumption and electricity generation for last year.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

You should write at least 150 words.















Band 9 Answer

The pie charts show the proportion of energy that is generated and consumed by a range of different sources. It is noticeable that there are considerable differences between the two. When looking at the consumed energy it is clear that the bulk of it came from fossil fuels with over 75% coming from these traditional methods. The majority of which was from oil at 34.3%. Alternative energy sources such as nuclear and hydro power made up a relatively small proportion at just 6.5 and 2.2 % respectively. These figures are very different when looking at generated energy. Again. the majority was from fossil fuels at approximately 65%. However oil made up a fairly small percentage at just 6.7%. This meant that we were generating considerably more energy from alternative sources with nuclear and hydro being 15.7 and 16.1% respectively. In conclusion we can see that there are similarities in the generation and the consumption of fuel. However, despite an over reliance on fossil fuels, last year we generated significantly more energy from renewable sources than from oil.

Word count: 177

IELTS Listening

You’ll be given a booklet containing 40 questions. You’ll hear 4 different audio recordings relating to these questions. You’ll also be given a separate answer sheet and 10 minutes at the end of the listening test to transfer your answers from the test booklet to the answer sheet.

The IELTS Listening consists of 4 listening sections 

  1. General conversation
  2. General monologue
  3. Academic conversation
  4. Academic lecture

You’ll receive all 4 of these sections whether you are doing IELTS General or IELTS Academic.

Section 1: General conversation

  • It involves a conversation between two people and the conversation will be about gathering information. For example, someone might be calling a travel agent to get information about a holiday. You’ll need to listen out for information such as names, dates, costs and places. The main type of questions for this section is form completion.

Section 2: General monologue

  • It is a monologue which means that you’ll hear only one person speaking. For example, you might hear a tour guide might be giving information about a historical sight. Common question type for this section is plan, map or diagram completion

Section 3: Academic conversation

  • It involves an academic conversation between 2-3 speakers. For example, you can hear 2 students discussing a university assignment with a professor. A common question type for this is matching.

Section 4: Academic lecture

  • You’ll hear a speaker giving a university-style lecture on any given topic. The topic on this section may range from history, food, animals, climate, art and society among other things. You won’t need any specialist knowledge of these topics because all the information you need to answer the questions will be in the lecture. You just need to listen carefully.

Question Instructions:

Before you begin, it is very important you read the question instructions, especially for short answers and all gap-filled question types as these instructions will tell you how many words to use. Here are a few instructions you might see on test-day: USE NO MORE THAN ONE WORD (The answer must be one word only), USE NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS (The answer must be one word or two words), USE NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS (The answer must be one word, two words or three words) or USE NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER (In this case, some of the words will be ONE WORD, TWO WORDS, THREE WORDS, A NUMBER, ONE WORD AND A NUMBER, TWO WORDS AND A NUMBER OR THREE WORDS AND A NUMBER).


IELTS Speaking

Task overview

In this task, you’ll be assessed by an examiner who will ask you some questions. This task will be done separately to the Listening, Reading and Writing tasks. It is usually conducted on a separate day. The speaking task is usually between 11-14 minutes long and has 3 parts. They are:

  • Part 1: The Introduction/Identity Check and Interview

This part of the speaking test lasts between 4-5 minutes.

When the speaking test first starts, the examiner will ask you a few questions about yourself. This will be some background information about you, where you come from, where you live, etc. This will be followed by short interview questions on a general topic.

  • Part 2: The Short Presentation

You’ll be given a task card with a topic and 3 points to address. You’ll be given 1 minute to prepare and take notes and between 1-2 minutes to speak.

  • Part 3: The Discussion

Here, the interviewer will ask you some more in-depth questions based on the presentation topic in Part 2 task card.

How the Speaking Task is assessed

  1. Fluency and coherence: Your ability to continue talking about a topic in a smooth and meaningful way. Speak fluently without noticeable effort, develop topics coherently and use a range of connectives/discourse markers.
  2. Vocabulary / Lexical resource: Your ability to use words and phrases appropriately. Use a wide range of vocabulary flexibly, use some less common and idiomatic language and paraphrase effectively.
  3. Grammatical range and accuracy: Your ability to use a wide range of grammar to communicate clearly. Use a wide range of structures and produce frequent error-free sentences.
  4. Pronunciation: Your ability to be understood easily. Use a wide range of features (connected speech, emphasis stress, chunking, intonation) to convey meaning and speak clearly with all the correct sounds of English.

Your final score is an average of the 4 points above.

Part 1: The Introduction or Identity Check

The Identity Check: When the speaking test first starts, the examiner will read a short introduction about the test date and venue. Then they will introduce themselves formally like this:

“Hello, my name is (Mark)”

and then, ask you these questions:

  • “Can you tell me your full name please?”

Student: “Juno Rodrigues.”

  • “What should I call you?”

Student: “Juno.”

  • “Can you tell me where you are from?”

Student: “Australia.”

  • “Can I see your identification please?”

Student: “Yes, sure.”

This is not part of the test; just an identity check, so your answers should be short and factual. When asked where you are from, just say the country you are from. You are not being assessed here so avoid long answers. Once the examiner has checked your passport, the test begins.

The Interview: The interview always begins with a set of questions about either:

  • What do you do……Work or Study?


  • Where do you live?

The examiner will say, “Let’s talk about what you do.” or “Let’s talk about where you live.” The examiner will then ask you 2-3 questions on one of those topics.

Then you will be asked 2 more sets of questions on General Topics. These topics may include Hometown, Hobbies, Family, Festivals, Food, Education, Sport, Technology, Transport, Pets, Entertainment, Weather, Television, Mobile Phones, Fashion, Holidays, Animals. For each topic, you’ll be asked around 4 questions. You don’t need any specific knowledge of these topics as they are all very common. All of the questions are simple, personal questions. You just need to be able to speak about them generally. This means: answer the question, elaborate and give examples.

What you need to do is to extend your answers and try and use some good vocabulary and some different sentence structures.

Examiner: “Let’s talk about where you live. Do you live in a small town or a big city?”

Student: “Well, I actually grew up in a small town but I’ve been living in a reasonably big city for how long….I guess about 6 or 8 years now. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Melbourne but I’ve been living here and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a beautiful city.”

Examiner: “And what do people do for fun?”

Student: “In Melbourne? Well, it’s actually a really sporting city. We have the Grand Prix; we have football; we have cricket. We are also surrounded by beaches, so if you’re a sporting person, it’s very good for you but apart from sport, there’s also shopping, lots of live music and fantastic restaurants.”

Examiner: “Would you like to move to another place in the future?”

Student: “Well, recently I visited New York city in America and that was the most amazing city I’ve ever been to apart from Melbourne. So perhaps I’d like to live there but to be quite honest with you, I’m very happy living in Melbourne.”

Examiner: “Let’s move on to talk about clothes. What kind of clothes do you like wearing?”

Examiner: “How often do you go shopping for clothes?”

Examiner: “Do you prefer to shop for clothes alone or with someone else?”

Examiner: “Has your style of clothing changed in recent years?”

Examiner: “Now, let’s talk about staying healthy. Is it important for you to be healthy?”

Examiner: “Are you healthier now than when you were a child?”

Examiner: “What could you do to have a healthier lifestyle?”

Grab your phone because you’re going to record your answers and listen back. You should aim for around 20 seconds per answer.

What to do and What to avoid

In the speaking test, you should avoid giving “Yes”, “No” or short answers. If the examiner asks you if you play any sports, avoid saying just “Yes” or “No”. If you do play sports, give the name of the sport you play, how often you play it and how long have you been playing it for. If you don’t play any sport, be honest and give your reason why but don’t just say “no”. The point is to keep talking and present your best language to the examiner.

Speaking Q-Card: Download