Timing Yourself for IELTS Success
Updated on Nov 19, 2014 - 5:20 p.m. IST by Sarah Deverall
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Once you have chosen IELTS to demonstrate your English standard for your study abroad course, proper preparation and practice are the keys to ensuring you have no surprises on the day and can obtain the score you deserve. The IELTS test will take about 2 hours 55 minutes to complete. Familiarising yourself with the IELTS test format and knowing how to plan your time are essential steps that will help you feel ready and at ease on the test day.


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SARAH_DEVERALLIELTS tests your English language skills across four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Each section of the test consists of several tasks. It is a very good idea to approach each one of these strategically so that you have adequate time to answer each question. Here are some IELTS expert tips and tricks to help you manage your time as you navigate through each section.


To know all about IELTS, watch the video below:




Listening. You have a total of 40 minutes to complete this section.You will have 30 minutes for testing plus 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the question booklet to your answer sheet. During the initial 30 minutes, you will hear instructions for each situation and then have an opportunity to read through the questions for that section. Each recording will be played only once, so it is important that you listen carefully for the specific information you need. Work quickly and attempt each question, but do not waste time if you do not know the answer. The final 10 minutes are for transferring your responses to the answer sheet.  Make sure you are diligent in copying your answers to all of the questions in this time. Pay close attention as you do this as your score will be based solely on the answers on your answer sheet.


Reading. You have a total of 60 minutes to complete the reading section. Unlike the listening test, you will not have extra time to transfer your answers onto the answer sheet, so do make sure you mark your responses directly onto the answer sheet. There are three parts to the reading section. You will not be told when to start or finish each of these parts, so it is important that you use your time wisely.

You should spend roughly equal amounts of time on each of these sections, keeping in mind that the last one will always consist of a longer text. Be sure to give yourself enough time to work through all questions. Rather than read every word of each passage, focus on identifying the information needed to answer the questions. Remember, you should be able to answer all the questions from reading the text – even if the topic is unfamiliar.


Writing. You have a total of 60 minutes to complete the writing section. Again, be sure to write your responses directly onto the answer sheet. The writing section consists of two tasks. Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1. You should spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and about 40 minutes on Task 2. You will not be told when to start or finish each of these tasks, so be sure that you move onto Task 2 after about 20 minutes.

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each task to make notes to ensure you address the entire task. You are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2, but you should not spend time counting words during the test. Instead, as you prepare for the test, learn to recognise these lengths in your own handwriting.


Speaking. The speaking section of the IELTS test takes from 11 to 14 minutes as you progress through three sections in a live interaction with an examiner. The first section is a brief period of introduction and general questions on familiar topics like your home, family and studies. Use this time to “warm up” and become comfortable with the examiner. In the second part, you will be given a topic and points to discuss. You will have one minute to prepare and make notes, and then you will be asked to speak for two minutes. Use the time given to compose your thoughts and plan what to say. Speak confidently and naturally and do not attempt to memorise prepared answers in advance as this will be obvious during the test. The third section will consist of a two-way discussion related to the topic from part two. Listen carefully to the examiner’s questions and fully develop your ideas in your responses.

As you can see, there are a number of tasks to complete in just under 3 hours for the IELTS test. By paying close attention to your time and working diligently and effectively, you will be able to work through all of these in the time allowed – a critical component to achieving the IELTS score that you deserve and truly reflects your ability in English!


Sarah Deverall is Director Examinations India & Customer Services South Asia, British Council India


Also Read:

‘Practice to get a perfect score in IELTS’
British Council IELTS Scholarship
IELTS Exam Preparation Tips



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Questions related to IELTS

Showing 408 out of 408 Questions

Feb 13 i had written my IELTS exam(paper based), can anyone know the result date?

Hrisheekesh Singh 21st Feb, 2020

Hi Sudalai,

Generally, the IELTS 2020 results are available 13 days after the test date. The IELTS results can be seen online via the candidate's IELTS registration account using the candidate's Identification Document Number i.e. passport number and registration number. However, the result of the computer based exam is made available after 5-7 days of the exam date.

IELTS 2020 scores are calculated on a 1-9 point scale which is a mean of the individual sectional scores.

You may refer to the source article for more detailed information about IELTS Result 2020.

I hope this information helps you.

Good Luck!



I am currently studying for the NEET-UG 2021. I want to go to Cambridge University for MBBS. Apart from NEET and IELTS, is there anything I should be aware of? Also, what are the various choices offered for getting a scholarship?

Animesh Vats Student Expert 21st Feb, 2020


Well I must tell you that there are no such scholarship available to study medicine in UK specially for international students and the education is way too expensive. The exam you need to qualify depend on what the college demands. IELTS or TOEFL is needed as language proficiency requirement.

I hope my answer helps.

All the best.


can you please inform me how to apply for IELTS and TOEFL exams

Charvi Nayyar 7th Feb, 2020

hello aspirant

you can register for IELTS exam in the following way:

1. you can register online and pay the fees by credit card (Log on to www.ieltsidpindia.com and Select the option "Register for IELTS" and fill the necessary information).

2.  register in person at idp branch and pay the fees there. identical to the first option.

3. register by courier and pay test fee by demand draft.

you can register for TOEFL exam by online means and or by email or by phone. you can also register in person at a toefl resource center. you will be basically required to visit and create an online profile and then pay the exam fees.

hope this helps


Dear Sir/Mam, I want to do MS in UK in January 2021. Do i have to give both IELTS and TOEFL exams or either? I dont know when and how to start preparation. please Help. Thanks

Mayank Chowdhary 2nd Feb, 2020

Giving either of them is ok actually. And for preparations then if you plan to shift in 2021 try to give the exam in around November 2020 if possible and to start it's preparations, as per me it's a 3 months regular studies required to crack the same. So you can start in around July/August to be well prepared to give the exam.

Either the IELTS or the TOEFL is required as part of your application to an English-speaking university and will demonstrate if you will be able to understand the course material.

The IELTS and TOEFL exams are two of the most accepted English proficiency exams around the world. However, both of these tests are different in their structure, approach, and teaching criteria. This means that you need to understand how the two differ before selecting which test to study for and ultimately take.

Thank you.


Dear Sir/Mam, I want to do MS in UK. But cost of study is Expensive. Does scoring good in IELTS and TOEFL helps to reduce the amount of cost ? what else option do i get in order to get admission in UK in minimum cost ? Please Help Me !!

Harshit sethi 1st Feb, 2020

All the foreign Universities offer a scholarship which is on the basis of meriat and need basis . You should try to look for it and inform the competent authority about it . They would help you in every way . They also offers 100 % scholarship to merit and need basis students.

This would help you to study abroad.

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