The official IELTS by IDP app is here! Download it today.


The IELTS test lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes. While this might seem like a long time, many people find the test goes quickly. If you’re preparing for IELTS and wondering how you’ll manage your time, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for practical tips to help you master your time on test day.  


Time management in the Listening test is especially important as you will only hear the recording once. The IELTS Listening test is 30 minutes.

During that time, you’ll listen to four recordings and answer 40 questions. If you’re taking IELTS on paper, you’ll have 10 minutes to transfer your answers at the end.  

Predict missing information 

Read the questions in the preparation time before each section to know what you are listening for. For example, if the question asks you to write down a venue like in the example below, you will need to listen for a place.  

Image - Sample listening question - Global

Source: Free IELTS Listening – practice sample questions | IDP IELTS 

Prioritise understanding the content 

Don’t worry too much about understanding every word. If you focus too hard on unfamiliar words, you might lose track of the conversation and miss what comes next.

Instead, pay attention to the overall flow of the talk and try to understand the main topics and information discussed. 


In the IELTS Reading test you have 60 minutes to read 3 different texts and answer 40 questions. This is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training although the text types differ. It’s important to note that in IELTS Reading no extra time is given to transfer answers. 

Learn techniques for reading faster 

Start by quickly skimming through the entire text to understand the gist (main idea or purpose). Don't spend time reading every sentence in detail as this can be time consuming. Focus on headings, subheadings and look for main points that describe the passage. This will help later with finding answers. 

Identify key words in questions 

Underline the key information words in the questions. If you’re taking IELTS on computer, you can use the highlight feature to do this. This will help you look for the answers in the text. 

Can you identify the most important information in the sample Academic Reading question below?  

Image - Sample Reading question True False Not Given - Global

Source: Free IELTS Academic Reading sample preparation questions | IDP IELTS 

Suggested answers: 

  1. Marie Curie’s husband was a joint winner of both Marie’s Nobel Prizes.  

  2. Marie became interested in science when she was a child.   

  3. Marie was able to attend the Sorbonne because of her sister’s financial contribution

Click here to learn more about how to answer this question. 


Although IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training include different types of Task 1 questions, the time allocation is the same. You have 60 minutes to complete two written tasks.    

Set time limits for each task 

Make sure you allow enough time to complete both tasks. As Writing Task 2 is worth more marks than Writing Task 1, we recommend dividing your time like this: 


Task type

Word count

Recommended time allocation

IELTS Writing Task 1

Academic: Describe some visual information in your own words (a graph, table, chart or diagram).  

General Training: Write a letter. 

At least 150 words.

20 minutes

IELTS Writing Task 2

Both: Write an essay.  

At least 250 words.

40 minutes

Don’t forget to leave time to review your spelling, grammar and punctuation at the end.  

Plan your writing 

Planning your writing tasks might feel like a waste of time – especially as you only receive marks for your writing, not your plans. But it may help you develop and connect your ideas, achieving a higher band score.  

Before each task, take a few minutes to organise your thoughts and plan the main topic and supporting points for each paragraph.  

Image - General Training Writing Task 2 Sample Question - Global

Source: Free IELTS General Training Writing sample questions | IDP IELTS 


The Speaking test lasts between 11-14 minutes.   

Understand the time allocations for Speaking questions  

Here is the allocated time for each part of the Speaking test:


Question type

Time allocation

Part 1

Introduction and questions on familiar topics

4-5 minutes

Part 2

Individual long turn

3-4 minutes

Part 3

Two-way discussion

4-5 minutes

This is your chance to show your language skills to the examiner. Watch our videos of high-scoring test takers to see how they answered the questions in the time allocations above.  

Make notes for Speaking Part 2 

In Part 2, the examiner will give you a topic like the one below and ask you to talk about it for one to two minutes.

You’ll be given the speaking prompt on a card and a pencil and paper to make notes. You have exactly one minute to prepare. Make sure you use this time to organise your thoughts, so you don’t forget anything when it’s time to speak.  

Image - Speaking Sample Question Individual Long Turn - Global

Source: IELTS Speaking practice questions and sample tasks | IDP IELTS 

Final thoughts

Learning to manage your time during the IELTS test can make a big difference to your final score. 

As you complete each test section, don’t forget to: 

  • Leave time to check your answers at the end. 

  • Answer every question.  

  • Make a guess if you don’t know the answer (you may get it right!) 

Get ready for success by putting these IELTS time management tips into practice before test day. Boost your confidence with our free timed practice tests.