International English Language Testing System


ielts-logoThe IELTS English proficiency exam is the most widely used language test in the world. It is accepted by over 9,000 organizations globally, including governments and academic institutions, for immigration and study purposes.

How does the IELTS exam work?

The exam tests your skills and abilities in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It comes in two versions: the Academic and the General Training

Canadian universities and professional bodies require applicants to sit for the Academic module. The General Training module is intended for those who are planning to undertake work experience or training programs, or for individuals who are planning to immigrate to Canada.

Candidates are tested in the four core skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing:

Academic Test

Study and University Test

The scores listed below are typical admission requirements for college diploma and undergraduate, postgraduate and professional programs in the Greater Toronto Area

  • College Diploma Programs: overall 6 (no band below 5.5)

  • Undergraduate Studies: overall 6.5 (no band below 6)

  • Postgraduate and Professional Degrees: overall 7 or higher (in all sections)

  • Admissions into Professional Bodies: normally 6.5 or higher

General Test

Immigration Purposes

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) accepts IELTS General Training as proof of English proficiency. Applying for PR status usually requires band scores between 5-6 or higher score.


  • Same Listening section for both versions of the exam

  • Approximately 30 minutes of recordings. Additional 10 minutes given after final part for test takers to transfer answers to an answer sheet

  • 40 questions in total (10 questions for each part of the test, four parts)

  • part 1— two speakers, everyday situations (non-academic)

  • part 2— one speaker, everyday situations (non-academic)

  • part 3— two or three speakers, academic situations

  • part 4— one speaker, academic lecture

Reading: Academic Test

  • 1 hour (60 minutes) (including answer sheet)

  • 3 reading passages, progressively harder

  • 40 questions (12–14 per reading), various types

  • Various topics (science, humanities, history, etc.), essay/article style

Reading: General Test

  • 1 hour (60 minutes) (including answer sheet)

  • 3 reading passages, various formats (last section similar to reading passage 1 of academic)

  • 40 questions, various types

  • Various topics and styles (ads, letters, essays, etc.)

Writing: Academic Test

  • Task 1: 20 minutes; Task 2: 40 minutes

  • Task 1: summarize visual information (chart, graph, diagram) in a short report, minimum 150 words

  • Task 2: write an essay in response to a prompt, minimum 250 words

Writing: General Test

  • Task 1: 20 minutes; Task 2: 40 minutes

  • Task 1: write a letter based on prompt, minimum 150 words

  • Task 2: write an essay in response to a prompt, minimum 250 words


  • Same Speaking section for both versions of the test

  • 11-14 minutes in length, depending on test takers answers and the interviewer

  • One-on-one, face-to-face dialogue with native English-speaking examiner (test will be recorded)

  • 3 parts: short answers, short talk on a topic, interview style

Quick tips:

  • It is very important to note that spelling and usage DO COUNT on the IELTS exam—misspelled words, missed capitals, missed or inappropriate hyphens will cost you points

  • Legibility is very important—this is a hand-written test; if the grader cannot read what you wrote, you will lose points

  • Time management is a crucial skill—practice full exams on a regular basis in order to succeed on test day

  • If you are not sure where to begin your studies and practice, start with vocabulary building (don’t forget synonyms)

  • Read every day—build speed, comprehension, and, of course, vocabulary