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Recent IELTS exams

Real students tell about their recent IELTS exams: IELTS questions, topics, tasks, answers.

Update from an Academic IELTS exam, Scotland

A student from Scotland shared with us her IELTS experience. Thanks, Eva!

Listening test

Section 1. A primary school teacher booked a trip to sea-life centre (or something similar) (we had the fill in the gap tasks and multiple choice questions)
Section 2. A college lecturer presented information what to ask for on a university open day (we had to answer multiply choice questions and they were quite confusing)
Section 3.A university lecture gave information on water conservation (I think this was the easiest part, filling in the gaps only, you could hear the answers very clearly)
Section 4. Don’t remember.

Reading test

Passage 1. Bigger choice may lead to confusion and depression.
Passage 2. Birds, hatching, nesting, looking after the young (probably the most difficult, but the questions were easy to answer).
Passage 3. Life on Mars (easy to read and understand).
Tasks for all of them: multiple choice questions and true/false/not given


Writing Task 1 (a report)
We had a chart and a table describing the students working part-time in different age groups, number of hours a week and number of years to complete their course.

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Should charity organizations provide aid to countries where it is needed, or should they only help their own country?
(I think this was a really silly topic, I had no ideas or vocabulary I could impress with)

Speaking test


Questions about myself, such as what is my name, do I visit parks, how are they important?

Cue Card

Describe a traditional event in your country. Please say:
– who attends it,
– when and where it happens,
– what people do in this event.


– Have you forgotten about some traditions?
– Which ones? (my answer: “Well, if we forgotten the traditions than I cannot remember them, obviously, can I ?!”)
– If you believe that losing traditions is a part of evolution, do you think that Christmas will be canceled as well? (My answer: “That’s impossible, as long as Santa Clause lives, they can’t be canceled! [laugh].

Update from a General IELTS exam, Hungary

This awesome report came from a Hungarian guy right after he was done with IELTS and it was very fresh in his memory. Thank you very much, Tamas, for providing this study case – well done!

Listening test

For me there were enough pauses (30 seconds to look at the following block of approx. 6 questions, and 30 more seconds to complete my answers), the answers were clear enough to hear. Of course, the classic traps mentioned in “Ace the IELTS” e-book were there, but I was well aware of them. I only missed one answer, and was not sure in one more case.

The tape was surprisingly hard to recall later, which is a proof of “you won’t remember a single word afterwards” statement in “Ace the IELTS” , it was split into four sections.

The first part was a phone conversation of a tour reservation, and you needed to collect names, phone numbers, and such factual data. Then, I still don’t remember the next two parts.

There were single choice and multiple choice tasks involved. Then in the last part there was a text about water shortages, the history of dams, and a comparison of water dams and water banks. This was a fill in the gaps task, with synonyms often used.

One question I couldn’t figure out with multiple choice questions: the question booklet said “Look at questions 12-14” and then there were 5 options from which I had to pick 3.The answer sheet however, clearly asked for question 12, 13, and 14 separately. Let’s assume the answers are A, B and E. In which order do you mark these on the answer sheet? Which is the answer for question 12/13/14 exactly?

To explain this one: in such cases the order doesn’t matter. Make sure you select the right choices, write them on the Answer sheet in any order, they will be all accepted. (Simone)

Reading test

With the skimming technique I managed to save so much time that I had more than 10 minutes at the end to re-check every answer (to correct two obvious mistakes in my case), which were already copied to the Answer sheet.

There were four passages

Passage 1. A table comparing 3 lodging packages.
Passage 2. A travel insurance leaflet.
Passage 3. A single-page text about retraining courses.
Passage 4. A 7-paragraph text about the advantages of wind turbines as an alternative energy source.

I tried not to over think some of the T/F/NG tasks, but still I’m not sure in two cases:

1) The travel insurance leaflet contained a clause like this:
“laptops and other electronic equipments are covered (if their model and id were registered previously)”, and the question was whether the insurance covers/doesn’t cover/or covers in some cases. I’ve chosen “covers in some cases” here, thinking that the condition applies only if…

Well done! (Simone)

2) The retraining leaflet said something about apprenticeship (with a footnote that it means studying and working at the same time, and one of the courses said it is for apprenticeship, trainees, and other general studies (or something like that, unfortunately I can’t recall), and there was a question whether this course usually includes part-time work. I chose NG, as I felt that the fact that it USUALLY includes part-time work (that is apprenticeship and trainees in my reading) was not emphasized in the text.

Writing test

Writing Task 1 (a letter)

Your friend will be staying at your home, but you can’t be there. Write a letter and explain:
– How the keys will get to him/her
– How to use the electrical appliances
– Recommend some interesting places to visit

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Some people say subjects like arts, music, drama and creative writing are more beneficial to children, and therefore they need more of these subjects to be included in the school program. Do you agree or disagree?

I was sort of winding down by the end of the test, dehydrated and was not creative enough in the second task, so I wrote only in general (despite the fact that they asked for personal experiences to be mentioned), and too short. (235 words total, and no time left to extend that). At least I kept the essay structure, so knowing that was a great help.

Speaking test

There was a one-hour break before interviews started. There were 2 examiners for the 16 candidates, and each interview took about 15 minutes, so that means something like 2-3 hours of waiting time for the last candidates.

Generally, the examiners were very kind; they (of course) let you speak when they see you have something to say. It is up to you how to answer their questions in the meantime.

About tape recording: the interview starts with a short tape-recording test, which tests the physical condition of the tape-recorder, but be prepared to hear your voice back from a tape: if you haven’t heard it before, you might be surprised how differently it sounds (to you), and don’t let it distract you (this was a case for one of my fellow candidates).