Sections In IELTS

Try not to be nervous. We know that´s difficult, but you´ll be able to focus better if you´re calm and you´ll be calm if you arrive at the test center rested, prepared, knowing what to expect, and armed with some solid test-taking strategies.

The night before the test, get plenty of sleep and make sure you have everything you will need to bring to the test center.

Following are our suggestions regarding the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) questions themselves and how to manage the time you have during the test. We also want to make sure you understand the consequences of quitting the test and/or exiting a section.

The Questions

Read all of the test directions carefully

  • At the beginning of each test section, the total number of questions and the time allowed for the section are stated.
  • Because the score per section is based on the number of questions you answer, try to answer as many questions per section as you can.

Read each question carefully before answering

  • If you are reading too quickly, you may miss an important part of the question or gloss over the right answer.
  • Remember that you can´t skip around from question to question. You have to answer the question that appears on the screen before you can move on to the next one. (But, if you want to change your answer at any time before you confirm it, just click on a different answer.)
  • Once you answer a question and confirm your response, you can´t return to that question. Tip: If you need to review the directions during the test, click on the "HELP" icon.

Should You Guess?

We get that question a lot. Because you have to answer a question to proceed to the next question, you should try to respond to each GMAT question, even if you need to guess.

The best approach is to give yourself enough time to answer every question in the GMAT. If you are running out of time at the end of a section and there are still unanswered questions, you should try to consider and answer as many questions as possible. Why? Because the number of unanswered questions will lower your score. Keep in mind, too, that guessing at random can also lower your score.

One last word of advice. You can still do well on the GMAT if you don´t answer every question correctly. If you can eliminate certain answers but can´t decide between two that you think could be the right answer, then guess. That´s an intelligent guess, and you are most likely better off making it and continuing with the test.

Managing Your Time :

  • Understanding the format of the test is important, because you´ll want to gauge your time according to what section of the test you are taking.
  • Pace yourself and keep track of your progress by knowing the amount of time you have left (it´s on the test screen). Each section is 75 minutes. You have about two minutes per Quantitative question and about 1.75 minutes per Verbal question.
  • Pay attention to the number of questions that remain in a section. There are 37 quantitative section questions. There are 41 verbal section questions.
  • Once a section begins, the time allotted starts to run down (shown as “TIME”).
  • Clicking on "HELP" doesn´t pause or stop the time.
  • Hiding the "TIME" information doesn´t pause or stop the time.
  • If you take an unscheduled break, test time doesn´t pause or stop even for a second • Between test sections, replenish your supply of scratch paper.
  • Take advantage of the five-minute breaks after test sections 2 and 3.
  • If a question is too time-consuming or if you do not know the answer, make an calculated guess.
  • If time is running out for a section and you haven´t answered every question, try to do so. (Remember, the number of questions answered affects your score.)

NOTE: You must respond to both essays and each multiple choice section of the test in order to receive scores.

Exiting or Quitting the Test:

  • If you exit a section and confirm you want to exit that section, you won´t be able to return to it.
  • If you click "Test Quit," you won´t receive a score for any section, even if you answered questions for some or all of the sections.
  • If you click "Section Exit" or "Test Quit,” you have to confirm your decision. So, if you clicked either of these buttons by mistake or you change your mind, just select the option “Return to Where I Was.”

Listening Exercise

In the IELTS exam, the Listening Test forms the first part of the exam and lasts for about 30 minutes.

In each test, there are four main sections, for which you have to answer a total of approximately 40 questions. Each main section is divided into two and, sometimes, three sub-sections. Before each of these sub-sections, you have time to read the questions and you are advised to write your answers in the question booklet. At the end of each section, you have half a minute to check your answers.

At the end of the full listening test, you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the Answer Sheet. Usually, the listening exercises become more difficult as you move from Sections 1 to 4.

You will hear the test only ONCE.

The range of question types may include the following:

  • multiple choice questions
  • short-answer questions
  • sentence completion
  • summary/notes/flow chart/diagram/table completion
  • labeling a diagram which has numbered parts
  • matching


The first two sections are usually of a social nature. Section 1 usually contains a conversation, eg. between two people in a shop, and Section 2 a monologue, eg. a radio broadcast or a talk. Section 3 is usually a conversation in an educational or training context, eg. a tutorial about a particular subject. In this section, there can be up to four speakers. Section 4 is a monologue, such as a lecture or talk on a subject of general academic interest.

It is important to remember that the test is designed to test your listening comprehension skills. The answers to all of the questions are on the tape. You do not need any knowledge of the topic to be able to answer the questions.

Answers sheet

After the end of the tape, ten minutes are given for you to transfer your answers to the Answer Sheet.

Hints on listening

Common problem areas with this part of the IELTS exam include the following.

Misreading instructions

It is important that you read all the instructions very carefully so that you are clear about what is required for the answer to each of the questions. The instructions are usually clear and easy to follow, and an example is given in some cases.

It is worth pointing out here that candidates often fail to read the instructions carefully or just glance at them. Students rely on the fact that the instructions are exactly the same in the Test as they are in the textbook they have been practicing with.


Sometimes, the speaker may give a piece of information and then change his or her mind. So always watch out for this.

Speaking Exercise

The speaking module for the IELTS exam was changed in July 2001. The new speaking test lasts between 11 and 14 minutes. During the examination you will have a conversation with an examiner, which is recorded.

There are now three main parts within the oral exam:

Part 1: Introduction and interview

In this part of the oral examination, the examiner introduces himself/herself and confirms the identity of the candidate.

The examiner asks the candidate questions about himself/herself, their home, their interests, studies, etc. This is very similar to the first part of the oral exam before July 2001. For example, you could be asked the following set of questions.

  • What is your name?
  • Where do you live?
  • Do you have any brothers and sisters?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What subject are you studying?
  • Why did you choose this subject?
  • How do you use English in your studies?

The first question is obviously just your name, but you can add additional information to your answers: otherwise, the examiner will be speaking more than you! So, remember to give the examiner evidence of your ability to use the language. Look at the following short dialogue where the additional information is marked in bold.

Examiner : What is your name?
Candidate : Dhanunjay Naidu Maradana
Examiner : Where do you live?
Candidate : I live in London now, but I´m originally from a small town in Southern India.
Examiner : Have you got any brothers and sisters?
Candidate : Yes. One brother and two sisters. My brother is two years older than me, but both my sisters, who are twins, are younger than me. They are 17 years of age.
Examiner : What do they do for a living?
Candidate : Only my brother is working. He is an engineer and he´s now working in Saudi Arabia for a large oil company.
Examiner : Let us now turn to your studies. What subject are you studying?
Candidate : I´m studying architecture