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IELTS General Training Test: Structure & Scoring

Instructor: Bill Sands
The IELTS General Training test is an English proficiency exam for individuals seeking to complete secondary training, get work experience or migrate to certain countries where English is the primary language. Keep reading for more information on the structure and scoring system for this assessment.

IELTS General Training Test Structure

The IELTS General Training test consists of four subtests. The Listening and Speaking sections are the same as for the academic version of this exam. The Reading and Writing components, however, feature unique content designed to assess whether or not candidates have the skills needed to succeed in social and workplace settings.

Candidates are expected to finish the Listening, Reading, and Writing subtests of the IELTS in one sitting, with no breaks. Depending on your testing center, you might be able to complete the Speaking section up to a week before or after you sit for the other sections. In total, the test takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to finish.

Listening

In this 30-minute section, test-takers listen to four recordings, which are taken from a variety of contexts. Two of these recordings involve a conversation or monologue taking place in a social situation. The others present an academic discussion or lecture.

Candidates will then need to answer ten questions about the content of each recording, adding up to a total of 40 questions. Question types may include matching, multiple-choice, sentence completion, or other forms.

Speaking

As the shortest subtest on the IELTS General Training test with a length of 11-14 minutes, the Speaking section is comprised of three tasks.

The test begins as an interview with examiners asking general questions about a candidate's home life, work, and family. Once candidates answer these questions, they receive a task card that provides discussion points for a selected topic. Candidates are then required to offer their own thoughts on this topic and answer a question or two. This section concludes with a discussion in which candidates and examiners discuss the ideas and thoughts expressed in the second task in more general and abstract terms.

Reading

The 60-minute Reading subtest is divided into three tasks, each of which asks candidates to apply their reading skills to real-life situations.

  • The 'social survival' component tests a candidate's ability to use fundamental linguistic skills to identify important factual information in several different types of common publications, such as advertisements and timetables.
  • The 'workplace survival' section concentrates on texts specific to a professional setting and might include a contract alongside an excerpt from a company handbook.
  • The 'general reading' section includes lengthier prose with advanced structure similar to what might be found in a newspaper article or magazine.

Questions following each of these reading sections could take a wide range of formats, including but not limited to: multiple-choice, matching, diagram label completion, short-answer, and sentence completion.

Writing

Composed of two tasks, the Writing subtest represents another lengthy portion of the IELTS General Training test. Candidates should expect to spend about 20 minutes completing the first task and 40 minutes finishing the second task, for a total of one hour for the entire section.

The first task requires candidates to respond to a real-life situation, such as a maintenance issue with their apartment or problems they're having with a roommate, by writing a letter that provides relevant information or explains their predicament.

The second task focuses on more abstract concepts. Candidates receive a prompt that expresses a particular argument or point of view. They must then compose a response in which they express their own thoughts on the matter discussed in the prompt.

IELTS General Training Test Scores

The IELTS uses a band scoring system to determine a test-taker's final score. For each of the four subtests, a student receives a grade on a scale of 0-9. (Scores of 0 are only awarded to candidates who do not complete a section.) A student's overall score is the average score of all four test sections.

To find out if the organization you're applying to accepts scores from this test, search the database on the IELTS website. This resource contains the contact information and minimum passing scores for the colleges and universities, multinational businesses, professional credentialing organizations, and government agencies recognizing IELTS test results.

IELTS Preparation

If you're getting ready to take the IELTS General Training test, you may want to consider using the resources found on Study.com. This IELTS General Training Practice & Study Guide offers a comprehensive review of each section of the test. There are also these Vocabulary Flashcards and this Grammar Resources for English Language Learners course, both of which contain valuable information that can help strengthen your language skills and prepare you for the exam.

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