IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is an internationally recognized English language proficiency test for non-native speakers. 

It measures the ability to communicate effectively in English in four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). The IELTS test is widely accepted by universities, immigration authorities, and employers as proof of English proficiency. 

When students decide to take the IELTS exam, the first question that comes to their mind is how difficult is IELTS exam.

In this blog, we will answer this query of the students, and at the end, we will provide some tips to clear the IELTS exam.

But before that, you must understand what the IELTS exam is.

How Difficult Is IELTS exam?

To understand this question, you must know the format of the exam. 

So let’s move to the IELTS exam format to understand the exam’s difficulty level.

IELTS Format

IELTS is available in two types Academic and General Training. IELTS Academic is taken on paper or a computer in a test center, in addition, it can now be taken online at home or any private location with a stable internet connection. IELTS General Training can only be taken on paper or a computer in a test center.

To understand more about how difficult is IELTS, keep reading!

You take the same Speaking and Listening tests for Academic and General Training, but the difference is in the Reading and Writing sections. Be sure you are preparing for the correct type of exam.

There is no break between the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections of any IELTS exam; these are completed on the same day. Your speaking test can be scheduled before or after your listening, reading, and writing sections.

So let’s understand the format of every section of IELTS to know how difficult is IELTS.

There are following four sections in the IELTS exam:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking


This is the section where the student listens to the recording provided by the examiner. There are a total of 4 sections in the listening exam, in which you will listen to the 4 different recordings:

Recording 1: In this, you listen to the conversation between two people; mostly, you hear a recording of a person inquiring about something.

Recording  2: In this, you will hear one person talking, like giving detail about something or a podcast. You will hear about local facilities mainly.

Recording 3: You will get an educational discussion between teacher and student or student and student. Mainly you will listen to group discussion in this recording.

Recording 4: You will listen to a person giving a lecture on something related to education or general issues.

The total time for the listening test is 40 minutes. For 30 minutes, the recording will play, and 10 minutes for transferring answers to the sheet.

In these 4 recordings, the last one is considered the most difficult because sometimes the speaker speaks a little faster than other recordings.

But you can easily perform well in the last section of listening by just listening to it with focus. 

Learn the format of reading, writing, and speaking too to understand how difficult is IELTS exam.


The 40 questions in the reading section of the IELTS exam are designed to assess a wide range of skills of students. You only have 1 hour for this section of the IELTS exam, and you won’t get any extra time to transfer the answers.

These skills include skimming, understanding logical arguments, reading for gist, reading for key ideas, reading to get detail, reading for comprehension, and recognizing writers’ opinions, attitudes, and purposes.

These three long paragraphs come from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. They have been chosen for a non-specialist audience but are suitable for students starting university courses or looking for careers.

There are two types of reading:

Academic reading

This reading is for students who want to go abroad for study purposes. This is part of IELTS academics. This reading has three paragraphs and 40 questions.

General reading

This reading is for students who are applying for PR or for a work permit. There are a total of 4 paragraphs in this reading, but the number of questions is the same as in the academic reading.

It is considered that general reading is easier compared to academic reading. But the marking criteria for the general reading is tougher than the academic.

See the table below to understand score marking easily.

Academic Reading TestGeneral Training Reading Test
Correct AnswerBand ScoreCorrect AnswersBand Score

You are advised to use skimming process instead of reading full passage to save your time. And do not spend a lot of time on a single question.

If you still do not get complete satisfaction with the answer to your question, “how difficult is IELTS.” Continue reading!


The total time allotted for this section of IELTS is 1 hour.

The writing section of the IELTS exam also has two sections:

  • IELTS writing task 1
  • IELTS writing task 2

IELTS writing task 1

In this, you will get a visual representation of the information. You have to write what you can see in the visual representation, you can’t add anything from your side in this task. 

For this section, you have to write a minimum of 150 words. This section is different for both IELTS academics and IELTS general training.

Questions for IELTS academics writing task 1

  • Bar Chart.
  • Line Graph.
  • Table.
  • Pie Chart.
  • Process Diagram.
  • Map.
  • Multiple Graphs.

Questions for IELTS general writing task 1

  • Formal Letter
  • Semi-Formal Letter.
  • Informal Letter

IELTS writing task 2

The second part of the IELTS Writing section requires you to write an essay responding to a point of view, an argument, or a problem.

You may use a formal style and at least 250 words in your essay. It would be great if you tried to complete it in less than 40 minutes.

Questions types for IELTS task 2

  • Agree or disagree
  • Advantages and disadvantages
  • Cause and solution
  • Discuss both views
  • Opinion
  • Point of view
  • Argumentive
  • Double-question essays

You are advised to finish your task 1 in 15 to 20 minutes and task 2 in 35 to 40 minutes. Always save at least 5 minutes to proofread your work.

Keep reading to learn more about how difficult is IELTS.


In this section of the IELTS exam, you have to give an interview with the examiner. This section can be scheduled before or after the listening, reading, and writing test. 

The total time for this section is around 10 to 15 minutes.

There are three parts of this section:

  • Introduction
  • Cue-Card
  • Follow-up


In this part, the examiner will ask you questions related to the following topics

  • Work
  • Study
  • Hometown
  • Home
  • Art
  • Bicycles
  • Birthdays
  • Childhood
  • Clothes
  • Computers
  • Daily routine
  • Dictionaries
  • Evenings
  • Family & Friends
  • Flowers
  • Food
  • Going Out
  • Happiness
  • Hobbies
  • Internet
  • Leisure time
  • Music
  • Neighbours & Neighbourhood
  • Newspapers
  • Pets
  • Reading
  • Shopping
  • Sport
  • TV
  • Transport
  • Weather


In this part, the examiner will give you a topic on which you have to speak for at least 1.30 to 2 minutes. You will get 1 minute of preparation time for this part.


In the last part of the speaking section, the examiner will ask you questions related to the cue card or some general topics. You have to speak for at least 20 to 30 seconds for every answer in this part.

It is advised to you not to stop talking until the examiner asks you in the 2nd part of the speaking. Try to make eye contact to look confident and show some hand gestures also.

Types Of Questions In The IELTS Exam To Understand How Difficult Is IELTS

To help you understand easily, here is the table for the type of questions in the IELTS.

Module-wise questions in the IELTS exam
Matching information

Form, note, flow chart, table

Sentence completion

Summary completion

Plan, diagram labeling, map

Multiple choice Short answer questions
Identifying the writer’s claims/views

Matching headings

Multiple choice

Identifying information

Matching sentence endings

Sentence completion
Matching features

Summary, table, note completion, flow-chart

Diagram labeling completion

Short answer questions
Task 1 ( Academic )
Line Chart

Table Chart

Bar Graph

Pie Chart


( General Training GT )
Formal letter

Semi-formal letter

An informal or personal letter 
Task 2 (academic and general training )
Agree or disagree

Advantages and disadvantages

Cause and solution

Discuss both views


Point of view


Double-question essays
Section 1 – Give an introduction and interview.

Section 2 – Talk about a particular topic (cue card) the examiner gave.

Section 3 – Answer some follow-up questions about the cue card.

Factors Affecting the Difficulty of IELTS

After learning how difficult is IELTS exam, here are some factors that affect the difficulty of the exam. There are mainly four factors that affect the difficulty of the IELTS exam.

  • Language proficiency
  • Test-taking skills
  • Test format and pressure

Language proficiency

It is the most important factor in determining the difficulty of the IELTS exam. The higher your level of English proficiency, the easier it will be to perform well on the test for you.

Test-taking skills

Test-taking skills also play an important role in the difficulty of the IELTS exam. If your test-taking skills are poor, it will be very difficult for you to score well in the IELTS exam. Test-taking skills include managing time effectively, understanding and applying test instructions, and remaining calm under pressure.

Test format and pressure

If you do not have a clear overview of the IELTS exam, then also you may find it difficult to perform well in the IELTS exam. So you should understand the exam format properly before taking the test.

Once you know how difficult is IELTS exam and the factors affecting the difficulty of IELTS, it’s time for you to understand some tips for the IELTS exam.

Tips To Score In IELTS Exam

Sometimes, you are not able to perform well in the IELTS exam because you do not follow some specific tips and tricks for the exam. So we will provide you with some best tips for the IELTS exam that will make it easy for you to get a high score in IELTS exam.

Familiarize yourself with the format of the test.

Before taking the test, research the format and structure of the IELTS exam. Knowing what to expect will help you feel more confident and prepared on test day.

Improve your English language skills

The IELTS exam tests your English proficiency, so it’s important to improve your language skills before the exam. Read English books, newspapers, and articles, watch English TV shows and movies, and practice speaking and writing in English with someone who has proper knowledge of the language.

Practice regularly with mock tests

Taking mock tests is a great way to prepare for the IELTS exam and check your progress. There are many online resources and practice tests available, including official IELTS practice materials. You can also choose our online exam preparation service. 

Focus on grammar and vocabulary

Improving your grammar and vocabulary is important to get a good score in the IELTS exam. Study grammar rules and vocabulary words regularly and use them properly in your writing and speaking practice.

Time management

The IELTS exam is time-limited, so it’s important to practice by keeping time in mind. Make sure to pace yourself during each exam section and answer all questions within the time limit. Always give yourself 5 minutes less than the actual time to complete the task. For example, as there is a 1-1 hour time limit for both reading and writing, try to complete both tasks in 55-55 minutes. 

Pay attention to details

The IELTS exam tests your ability to understand and use English accurately. Pay close attention to the details of each question, and answer that completely and accurately.

Stay calm and focused

Test-taking can be stressful, but it’s important to stay calm and focused during the IELTS exam. Take deep breaths, stay positive, and focus on doing your best.


Here, we have discussed how difficult is IELTS. The difficulty of any exam depends on how well you understand the exam. 

If you know the exam properly, like understanding its format and the types of questions in the exam, you may not find the exam difficult at all.

But, if you do not have proper knowledge of the exam you may find it very difficult to score well in the exam.

If you need any help related to preparing for the exam, you can choose our online exam preparation service. 

If you have any queries or questions related to how difficult is IELTS, you can contact our experts or let us know through comments.

For more content like this, keep visiting CourseMentor™.


Which part of IELTS is most difficult?

You won’t find any of the modules of the IELTS exam difficult if you prepare for the exam properly and follow some specific tricks and tips for the exam. But, sometimes, students may find the writing part of the IELTS exam more challenging. As in this module, students may have to show their creativity.

Is IELTS tough for Indians?

Yes, you can say that the IELTS exam is tougher for Indians as compared to students from English-speaking nations.