IELTS Reading Writing Speaking and Listening Skills

IELTS Reading Writing Speaking and Listening Skills

So you’re thinking about progressing your medical career in an English speaking country? Well, before you can accept a job as a doctor, nurse or allied health professional, you will need to take the IELTS exam or OET exam.

The IELTS exam has four parts; listening, reading, writing and speaking. Read our overview of all four areas to ensure that you are ready to take the IELTS test.

IELTS listening (30 minutes)

The IELTS listening exam is designed to test a range of listening skills, including how well you are able to follow the development of an argument, recognise attitudes and opinions and understand ideas and specific factual information.

There are four texts in total. Two of them are set in a social context, and two in a more educational or academic context. The texts may be conversations, discussions or a monologue. There will be a variety of accents used by the different speakers.

There are 40 questions to answer and the whole IELTS listening test takes 30 minutes to complete. You may be granted an additional 10 minutes to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. There will be a variety of different types of question to answer.

IELTS reading (60 minutes)

The IELTS reading paper generally includes three long texts on a variety of academic subjects which increase in difficulty. These are authentic pieces of text taken from newspapers and journals. They may be factual, analytical or opinion-based.

IELTS candidates have to identify key points, important information, understand the meaning, recognise the writer’s opinion, and summarise arguments effectively.

There are a total of 40 questions to answer, each of which is worth one mark. You may be asked to complete a sentence, answer a multiple-choice question or fill in a gap in a passage of text. All answers must be marked on the IELTS reading answer sheet provided.

IELTS writing (60 minutes)

The IELTS writing exam is designed to test a wide range of writing skills.

Candidates are asked to write two texts over the course of 60 minutes and must provide their answer in a formal style. 

In the first piece of writing, you will be presented with some data, such as statistical tables, charts, diagrams or graphs. In your own words, you must describe, summarise and explain the information you have been presented with, explaining and describing a process or an event. You will be given 20 minutes to write at least 150 words on the subject provided. 

The second piece is an essay, in which candidates must respond to an opinion or statement about a particular topic. This part of the IELTS exam lasts 40 minutes and requires a minimum of 250 words to be written. 

IELTS candidates will be marked on a range of criteria. These include whether they have answered the question set, used an appropriate style of language, and organised their thoughts clearly. They will also be marked on grammatical accuracy, range of vocabulary, and their ability to connect ideas, sentences, and paragraphs correctly.

IELTS speaking (11-14 minutes)

This is a face-to-face speaking test with an IELTS examiner. There are three parts to the test. 

The first is an introductory conversation. The examiner will introduce themselves and ask a number of questions on general topics, such as family, work, hobbies and interests. You must answer these questions in a relaxed and natural manner. 

In the second, you will be given one minute to prepare a short presentation on a topic. Your presentation should be one to two minutes in length; you will not be interrupted during this time. Once you have completed your presentation, the examiner will ask a series of questions based on your presentation.

In the third, the examiner and the candidate will ask some further questions connected with the topic in part two. These questions give you the opportunity to discuss issues and ideas in more depth.

IELTS speaking candidates are marked on their ability to express themselves clearly and accurately, to answer questions appropriately, their range of grammar and vocabulary, their level of ‘naturalness’, and their pronunciation and intonation.

The IELTS speaking test may take place on a different day to the other parts of the IELTS exam.

Retaking IELTS tests

IELTS exams are scored between one and nine. Doctors must achieve an overall score of 7.5, while nurses must score 7.0 in listening, reading and speaking, and a 6.5 in writing.

If you did not achieve the IELTS score you require, then you can retake a test as soon as you feel ready to do so. You can take the test as many times as you like.

Find out more

Are you a doctor, nurse or allied health professional looking for help and support with your IELTS exam? If so, contact our team one of our dedicated consultants will get in touch with you.

Alternatively, take a look at our moving to the UK section for more information about opportunities in the UK.

*This post was originally published on 22/04/2016 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.