IELTS Syllabus 2023 - Check Section-Wise IELTS Exam Syllabus & Important Topics PDF

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Apr 14, 2023 6:25 PM IST

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is primarily intended for non-native English speakers who want to go abroad for studies, employment, or immigration. The IELTS syllabus 2023 is systematically designed to analyse and evaluate candidates' command and proficiency of the English language in all aspects, which include speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills. Therefore, it is important to check the IELTS exam syllabus when preparing for the test in order to enhance your chances of being enrolled in some of the top universities abroad.

IELTS Exam Syllabus Highlights

Before we move on to the IELTS exam syllabus, let us quickly understand the exam pattern. The following table outlines the IELTS exam pattern:


Parts/Number of Tasks



2 paragraphs (40 questions)

Each question carries one mark


2 tasks

Scored out of nine IELTS bands


3 parts

Scored out of nine IELTS bands


4 parts

Each question carries one mark

Before you start preparing for your exam, you might want to learn more about the IELTS exam. Refer to the related reads below: 

Why IELTS Exam is Required?

Important Vocabulary for IELTS

IELTS Exam Syllabus for Academic vs General Training

As the candidates know, the IELTS syllabus 2023 contains four important sections ie reading, writing, listening and speaking. They must fare well in each area to meet the overall and sectional criteria set up by the universities abroad. 

The IELTS scores are accepted by all the top universities of the world including the University of Oxford, Harvard University, the University of Toronto and the University of Melbourne. It becomes imperative for international students to acquaint themselves well with the IELTS syllabus so that they can get into the world’s most selective and competitive universities.

As there are two types of IELTS exams - IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training - students must analyse the syllabus in depth and understand the university requirements, and accordingly take sit for the right type of IELTS exam. 

The IELTS Academic exam is taken to determine the suitability of the candidates in English-speaking nations and is designed from an academic point of view. The test pattern includes questions related to daily conversations in university life. The IELTS General helps people to migrate to other countries and consists of topics that will be required in day-to-day life. It checks the ability to communicate in a social and professional atmosphere. Get a proper understanding of the differences between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training here. 

IELTS Exam Syllabus Similarities: Academic vs General Training

The syllabus for the IELTS listening and speaking sections is the same for both the IELTS exam types. The question pattern and types asked are similar. The listening section contains four recordings and the reading section contains three passages. 40 questions are asked from each section. 

IELTS Exam Syllabus Difference: Academic vs General Training

The writing and reading sections have a different syllabus for IELTS Academic and General Training. The IELTS Academic topics focus mostly on academia for students who plan to study in universities in English-speaking nations. The General Training contains topics of general interests which are suitable for everyone.

The reading section is quite easy for the General Training candidates and there is a variance of one band in the scoring methodology. The writing sections contain two tasks for both types. The first task contains a letter for IELTS General Training and the second one contains a point of view, claim or issue to which a response has to be written. For IELTS Academic, a pictographic data question is given which has to be analysed in the first task and an essay topic will be given in the second part.

All set to prepare for IELTS? Refer to the guidelines below to create your preparation calendar:

How to Crack IELTS in the First Attempt?

How to Get 8 Bands on IELTS?

How Much Time is Required for IELTS Preparation?

How to Prepare for IELTS in a Month?

Common Mistakes to Avoid During IELTS Preparation

Benefits of IELTS Coaching

IELTS Syllabus for Listening Section

The IELTS syllabus for the listening section contains four recordings. The duration of this section is 30 minutes with 10 minutes given to transfer the answers. The recordings play once and students have to answer questions upon hearing them. The types of questions that are asked in this section include multiple-choice, map, diagram, summary, matching, flowcharts, tables, etc. 

IELTS Listening Section Format

It is essential to catch a glimpse of the IELTS listening section format before delving into the syllabus: 



Number of Recordings



1 mark for each correct answer

Number of Questions

40 (10 in each part)


30 minutes (10 minutes transfer time)

Structure of the IELTS Listening Section

The detailed structure of the IELTS listening section is given below:




Audio 1


Everyday social context

Audio 2


Everyday social context

Audio 3

Conversation between up to four people

Educational or training context

Audio 4


Academic context

Types of IELTS Listening Section Questions

In addition to the IELTS syllabus 2023 for the listening section, the types of questions that students have to answer are given below: 

Multiple Choice Questions

  • An MCQ with three option choices will be included in each audio recording. Candidates have to choose the correct answer.

  • Candidates may be provided with the option to choose more than one response.

  • One mark is awarded for each correct answer. 

  • Students will receive instructions on how to answer each question. Therefore it is necessary to follow the instructions. 

  • They must be extremely attentive while the audio is being played as it will be played only once. 


  • Students have to match a number of items with a set of questions after listening to the audio.

  • This type of question helps to understand the comprehension and interpretation skills of the candidates.

Plan, Map and Diagram Labelling

  • Candidates have to complete labels in diagrams, plans or maps.

  • These questions with visual information help to understand the candidate’s ability to interpret directions and relationships.

Sentence Completion

  • Candidates have to read a set of sentences that provide a summary of the audio and then complete the sentence according to the information provided.

  • The word limit will be given for this type of answer.

  • It is assessed if the candidates can find out the key points from the audio. The test-takers must understand the relation between cause and effect. 

Form, Note, Table, Flowchart, Summary Completion

  • The test-takers will have to fill in the gaps in an outline of the listening test. The outline focuses on the main ideas. 

  • They have to select answers from a list given in the question or identify the words that are missing from the recording.

  • Each question gives instructions that students need to follow. This question type analyses the candidate’s ability to focus on the main ideas.

General Rules and Guidelines for IELTS Listening Section

  • Candidates get ten minutes to copy answers in case of paper-based IELTS.

  • One should stick to either the British or American system of spelling. Mixing them is not encouraged.

  • The answer sheet is double-sided with one side for listening and the other for the reading section.

Preparing Through the IELTS Listening Practice Test

1200 Most Commonly Repeated Spellings of Words in the IELTS Listening Test

IELTS Syllabus for Reading Section

The IELTS syllabus 2023 for the Academic Reading section includes three reading passages which should be completed within 60 minutes. The passages are generalised and are taken from books, journals, newspapers and magazines. Since this is a standardised test which assesses a candidate’s proficiency in the English language, the syllabus for IELTS reading section will primarily highlight the different types of questions and passages you may see on the day of the test.

One of the ways you can ensure a higher band score in the section is by thoroughly understanding the IELTS exam syllabus for this year. Particularly for this section, candidates need to read the passages and answer the questions related to them to demonstrate their reading skills. Check out the following points to get an in-depth understanding of the IELTS exam syllabus for the reading section of the test.

IELTS Reading Section Format

Let us first understand the exam pattern for the section before we delve deeper into the IELTS syllabus for the reading section:




3 Passages

No. of Questions



1 mark for each correct answer


60 minutes

Type of Questions in IELTS Reading Section

Following are the details of the types of questions asked in the IELTS Reading Section and the full IELTS exam syllabus for the Reading section:

Multiple Choice Questions: These are questions in which you must choose the proper answer from a list of options that begin with the letters ABC and end with D. This sort of inquiry assesses your ability to comprehend particular, detailed information.

Information Matching: These questions ask you to identify particular information and place it where it belongs. You must have a thorough understanding of the text and be able to identify each paragraph and the information it includes.

Information Identification Questions: These are questions in which you must determine whether the information provided is genuine or untrue, or whether it is not provided at all. This question assesses your ability to comprehend the content of the text.

Sentence Completion: You will notice an unfinished sentence in this kind of question. It is up to you to fill in the blanks with words from the text. As a result, in order to get the correct answer, you must rapidly map the partial text to a specific point in the text.

Head Matching: You must choose a heading from the list and insert it in each of the paragraphs in order to answer these questions. Generally, you should be able to build a header out of each paragraph if you have thoroughly absorbed the offered material.

Summary Completion: You will be provided with a summary of the text. You must complete it by selecting words from the text within a certain amount of words.

Matching Sentence Endings: This is a straightforward question. A sentence fragment is chosen from a line of text. All you have to do here is find where it was derived from and finish the phrase, and you'll have the perfect answer!

Features Matching: These are the sorts of questions that demand you to identify and match precise information about supplied features. For example, you may be assigned to several persons who found various things at various periods. You must now match who found what and at what time. As a result, while matching, you must be very careful.

Matching Information: All you have to do now is make sure you don't get this question wrong. All that is expected of you is to locate any provided data and place it where it belongs.

Short Answer Questions: You must exercise extreme caution in this situation! This is a question that requires you to respond based on the information provided in the text. You should also double-check the number of words because you have a restriction. There is always a limit on the number of words that may be used.

General Rules and Guidelines for IELTS Reading Section

  • All candidates must read three texts ranging in length from 2,150 to 2,750 words.

  • The texts and questions become more difficult.

  • Within 60 minutes, all answers should be recorded on the answer sheet. (There is no score.)

  • No transfer time is given or allowed.

  • Each question carries one mark.

  • There is no penalty/negative marking for incorrect answers.

  • Spelling is important; you can use both British and American spelling.

Now that you have a better understanding of the IELTS syllabus for the reading section of the test, check out the following links to get detailed information to help you effectively and efficiently prepare for the section.

All About IELTS Reading Section

IELTS Reading Preparation Tips

IELTS Reading Practice Tests

Multiple Choice Questions in IELTS Reading

IELTS Computer-based vs Paper-based Test: Which is Better? Idioms for IELTS Exam: How And When to Use It?

IELTS Syllabus for Writing Section

The syllabus for IELTS Academic writing sections outlines the possible topics for the two tasks that you may be asked to write appropriate responses. With a total time limit of 60 minutes, the topics under the writing section of the test often include topics of general interest for students enrolling in Bachelor’s or Master’s courses in English-speaking countries. This section of the page outlines the IELTS exam syllabus for the writing section, highlighting the different types of questions and possible responses you can give.

IELTS Writing Section Format

In order to understand the IELTS syllabus for the writing section, it is important to understand the format of the section as depicted below:



No. of Tasks



60 minutes

Detailed below are the tasks allocated in the IELTS exam syllabus for the writing section for both the Academic and the General Training tests:

IELTS Writing (Academic)

The topics as per the syllabus of IELTS Academic writing section will vary according to the two tasks that you will need to attempt, as outlined below:

Task 1: On a related topic, you will be asked to describe data or numbers that are shown in one or more graphs, tables, or charts. You may also be given a diagram of a machine, equipment, or process and asked to explain how it operates. 

Task 2: A subject will be provided for you to write on in an academic or neutral/semi-formal tone.

IELTS Writing (General Training)

The topics for the two tasks, as per the IELTS exam syllabus for the General Training writing section, will include topics as described below:

Task 1: You will be given a circumstance to explain or request information, and you will be required to write a letter. The letter's style can be informal, formal, or personal.

Task 2: You will be required to respond in writing to a point of view, claim, or issue.

Note: Candidates must write the answers in a formal format for both tasks.

Types of Questions in IELTS Writing Section Task 1

As part of the IELTS exam syllabus, candidates should know the different types of questions they will be asked during the scheduled test. When practising for the test, it is advisable to understand these questions and how you can effectively and efficiently answer the questions. Outlined below are the different types of questions you may have to answer during the test this year.

Line Graph

  • You will be presented with one or more graphs in this type of question. An item is represented graphically in a line graph.

  • A line connecting points and representing the object's changes through time will be drawn for each object. It will be much easier to express if there is only one line. When the number of lines grows, however, it becomes more difficult since you must both describe and compare lines.

  • IELTS Writing uses a lot of line charts since they are so adaptable. You'll be expected to write at least a 150-word paragraph describing, contrasting, or highlighting the graph's trend.

Pie Chart

  • The pie chart is frequently split into several sections, each of which shows data (in percentages) for a certain factor.

  • All of these pieces combined represent components of a larger and more comprehensive thing.***

  • Each variable is represented by a distinct colour. In a remark beside or below the chart, the name and colour will be provided.

  • In a 150-word paragraph, you must describe, contrast, and compare the facts.

***For example, in February 2016, the dietary ratio of Vietnamese persons in different age groups was 15-20, 20-25, 25-30, and 30-35. As a result, this type of chart is used to study and compare items in general, calculating how much of the overall object each factor occupies. As a consequence, you will be able to evaluate the significance or dominance of these aspects.


  • Maps in the IELTS occur less frequently than the other sorts of questions listed above. However, just because it's uncommon does not mean it would not appear on your exam. Take precautions.

  • You will create a 150-word text to explain the map in this type.

There are two primary types of formats:

  1. One Map: You have been given the task of drawing a map of an unknown location, generally in the current day. In fact, because there is only one map to compare and contrast, this style appears infrequently in IELTS Writing Task 1.

  2. Two Maps: This format is more likely to succeed. You will be provided two maps of the same location, but maybe with two different project schedules.

Multiple Charts

  • Sometimes in IELTS Writing Task 1, you will be asked to compose a paragraph of at least 150 words discussing two or more distinct types of charts and graphs. For example, a pie chart and a bar chart, as well as a line graph and a pie chart.

  • Test takers may be perplexed and apprehensive when confronted with this job in some situations. However, there is no need to be concerned because the charts will be connected.

Bar Chart

  • The question of a bar chart is whether there will be one or more charts with data shown in vertical or horizontal bars. It's typically used to accentuate a contrast between two things.

  • The vertical or horizontal bar will represent the data and compare items depending on the bar chart. Still following the same guidelines, you must write at least 150-word paragraphs to discuss, compare, or highlight the changes or trends in the bar chart.


There will be one or more tables giving data on a certain topic. Your task is to produce a 150-word paragraph analyzing and comparing the data in the tables (or describing patterns and changes through time, etc.).


  • The test will include a visual of a process; this process might be natural, such as an animal's lifespan, or artificial, such as manufacturing or nurturing. You need to write a 150-word paragraph describing the procedure.

  • You must list all of the stages or phases in order, without skipping any; the steps will be represented by arrows.

General Rules and Guidelines for IELTS Writing Section

  • Candidates are given approximately 20 minutes for Task 1.

  • Approximately 40 minutes is given for Task 2.

  • Task 2 is worth more marks than Task 1.

Now that you have understood the different types of questions you have to attempt during the test, as per the syllabus for IELTS Writing section. However, to get even more detailed information about the different types of tasks and how to attempt those tasks, refer to the links provided in the table below:

IELTS Writing Task 1

IELTS Writing Task 2

IELTS Bar Graph

IELTS Task 1 Line Charts and Graphs

Connectors for IELTS Writing Task 2

IELTS Essay Writing Samples

IELTS Map Vocabulary

IELTS Advantage and Disadvantage Essays

IELTS Discussion Essay Topics

IELTS Essay Topics

Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS Writing

All About IELTS Writing Section

IELTS Syllabus for Speaking Section

The syllabus for IELTS speaking section includes three parts, all designed to analyse the speaking capabilities of the candidate. With 11-14 minutes allotted to complete the section, the topics used for the speaking section will be generic. According to the exam pattern for the section, your responses to the different questions will be recorded for the purpose of evaluation.

IELTS Speaking Section Format

While knowing the IELTS exam syllabus 2023 for the speaking section is important, it is also crucial to understand the exam pattern of the section, as has been outlined below.



No. of Parts

Oral Interview (3 Parts)


11–14 minutes

Structure of IELTS Speaking Section

As stated above, the IELTS syllabus for the speaking section highlights three parts that the candidates will be asked to answer and complete. These three sections, viz, the introduction, the long turn and the discussion, have been outlined below.

Part 1: The examiner asks general questions about the candidate and things associated with him/ her like family details, studies, interests, home and work, etc.

Part 2: The examiner asks the candidate to pick up a card and speak on the topic mentioned on the card. The examiner will also ask one or two questions related to the topic.

Part 3: The examiner asks further questions related to the topics in Part 2. This gives the candidate an opportunity to discuss more and provide abstract ideas and issues.

Types of Questions in the IELTS Speaking Section

Following are the details of the types of questions asked in the speaking section, as outlined in the IELTS syllabus:

Part 1: Introduction and Questions on Familiar Topics (4 to 5 minutes)

  • The examiner will ask you to state your name and provide identification as part of the first part of the examination.

  • You will then be asked some general questions about yourself, such as where you reside and what you're doing right now (working or studying).

  • After that, you will be quizzed on a variety of themes, such as your favourite music, food, weather, and favourite movies. In most cases, you will be quizzed on one or two subjects.

  • If your answer is too brief, the examiner will push you to elaborate with a "why?" or "why not?" If your answer is too short, the examiner will ask prepared questions and listen to your answer.

  • This section of the exam uses a question-and-answer style to assess your ability to convey thoughts and information on a variety of topics by responding to a series of questions.

Part 2: Individual Long Turn (3 to 4 minutes)

  • The examiner will assign you a topic to talk about for one to two minutes after Part 1. You will be given a piece of paper and a pencil to take notes on the topic that will be written on a card. The speaking prompt is printed on the card, along with some ideas for topics to discuss in your presentation.

  • Before you talk, you will only have one minute to prepare and take notes. When your time is up, the examiner will use a timer to notify you. 

  • The examiner will advise you when to begin your presentation and warn you that you will be stopped after two minutes. The points on the task card will help you come up with ideas for what to say, and you should aim to speak for the entire two minutes. Before moving on to the next portion, they may ask you a question regarding what you've stated.

  • This section of the exam evaluates your ability to speak for an extended period of time about a specific topic while using proper language and organizing your thoughts logically. You can utilize your prior knowledge of the subject to assist you in completing the lengthy turn.

Part 3: Two-Way Discussion (4 to 5 minutes)

  • The questions in Part 3 will be related to the broad theme that you discussed in Part 2. You will debate the issue in a more general and abstract manner, demonstrating to the examiner that you can articulate and explain your thoughts, as well as analyze, discuss, and hypothesize on the topic in greater depth.

  • If your lengthy turn was about a lovely spot to visit in your city, this part may start with discussing beautiful places, and the first question could be, "Do you believe it is vital to keep beautiful places in cities?"

  • In this phase, the examiner will speak with you longer and may ask you to defend your beliefs to determine how effectively you can communicate abstract ideas compared to the personal themes you discussed in Parts 1 and 2.

  • Part 3 assesses your ability to communicate and explain your thoughts, as well as analyse, discuss, and hypothesize on a variety of topics related to the overall topic you discussed in Part 2.

General Rules and Guidelines for IELTS Speaking Section

When you enter the exam room, remember to do the following:

  • Smile and project confidence.

  • Look the examiner in the eyes.

  • Introduce yourself confidently.

  • Remove any nervous gestures.

  • Wear appropriate attire.

  • Speak clearly.

  • Make your voice heard.

  • Repetitive phrases should be avoided.

  • Always say something other than Yes or No.

It is vital to understand the kinds of tasks in the IELTS Speaking section before your start preparing for the exam. You may refer to the details below:

IELTS Speaking Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 1

Speaking Cue Card Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 2

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FAQs on IELTS Syllabus

What is the syllabus for the IELTS Writing Section?

The syllabus for the IELTS writing section has only two questions. In the first question, applicants will be given a graphic, data, or a table and will be asked to represent the material in their own words. This question has a word restriction of 150 words. Candidates are given an argument, or point of view difficulties, in the second question. The goal is to evaluate the candidate based on their answer's viewpoint, reasons, ideas, and proof.

What is the syllabus for the IELTS Reading section?

The reading section of IELTS contains paragraphs that may be taken from books, journals, newspapers, magazines, new research etc. Based on these paragraphs, candidates will be asked to attempt certain MCQs.

Is the IELTS exam syllabus changing this year?

No, the IELTS exam syllabus will not be changing this year. IELTS Online, which has been live since early 2022, will have the same material and format as the existing pen-and-paper and computer-delivered IELTS exams. However, it will be housed on a purpose-built secure remote proctoring test platform.

What are the main topics covered in the IELTS exam?

The Reading section of IELTS includes random generic paragraphs based on which MCQs are framed. The paragraph can be from a book, journals, magazines, newspapers etc. In the Writing section, candidates will again be asked to write an essay on general topics. The listening section contains audio clips. The Speaking section will require candidates to speak on certain generic topics as well, asked by the examiner on the day of the test.

Are there any specific topics to prepare for the IELTS writing section?

Yes, there are a few specific topics as per the IELTS syllabus for the writing section, which may include topics on the environment, personality, society, education, communication and technology, censorship of art and artists, money and business and many more. One of the best ways to practice writing on these topics is to attempt practice or mock tests.

Are the topics for the IELTS speaking section predefined?

No, there are no predefined topics for the speaking section as per the IELTS syllabus. Candidates will first be asked to answer generic questions like their names, hobbies, etc. Subsequently, candidates will be given a topic from a cue card on which they will have to talk for a few minutes and answer questions pertaining to the given topic.

Which month has the easiest IELTS exam?

While the questions for the test are designed as per the IELTS syllabus and are changed within those boundaries, there is no conclusive answer to the month with the easiest question paper. If you wish to ace the test easily, it is advisable to prepare and attempt mock or practice tests for IELTS before attempting the actual test.

Is there any negative marking for incorrect answers in the IELTS Reading Section?

No, there is no negative marking for incorrectly answering any questions in the IELTS Reading section. You will receive a full grade if your answer is correct (no spelling or grammatical errors). Whether you are 100% certain or only 1% certain, only the right responses are marked, and Blanks or Wrong answers are treated as the same.

How is the IELTS Speaking section scored?

According to the syllabus for the IELTS speaking section, candidates will be marked on a band score of 0-9. Examiners will assess your skills on four parameters, viz., lexical resources, fluency and coherence, pronunciation and grammatical range and correctness. Your raw scores based on these parameters is then converted to band scores.

What is the IELTS Writing section scored on?

The IELTS Writing Score is determined on a scale of 0 to 9. The assessment criteria are used by the test-takers to assign a band score to each of the four categories: Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

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