IELTS Academic – get ready for a higher education environment and study abroad

The IELTS Academic test measures whether you have the level of English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher education environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.

Take the IELTS Academic test if you want to: 

  • study abroad or study in Britain at either undergraduate or postgraduate level anywhere in the world
  • apply for Tier 4 UK Student Visa at a university that is a Tier 4 Sponsor in the UK
  • work in a professional organisation in an English speaking country

You can take the test on paper or on a computer, or you can take it remotely with IELTS Online

If you need a visa for work or study in Britain, then in some cases you may need to take IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration or IELTS Life Skills.

  • Fee for IELTS Academic on paper in Sri Lanka: LKR 75,500
  • Fee for IELTS Academic on computer in Sri Lanka: LKR 70,000
  • Fee for IELTS Academic Online: LKR 70,000

What does the fee include? Our IELTS Academic test fee includes exclusive access to:

  • 'IELTS Ready Premium', our exclusive pack of  IELTS preparation materials, which include 40+ free IELTS practise tests, model answers, feedback from IELTS experts and more.
  • a downloadable IELTS practice book
  • Top IELTS Tips seminar and a IELTS Writing skills workshop

Duration of the IELTS Academic test: 2 hours and 45 minutes (IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing) + 11-14 minutes (IELTS Speaking)

Format: There are four sections to the IELTS Academic test: IELTS Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. When you book your IELTS test with the British Council in Sri Lanka, the test will take place in an official British Council IELTS test centre, whether you take the test on paper or on a computer.

If you take your IELTS Academic test on paper, your IELTS Speaking test may be offered:

  • on the same day as the other sections of the test
  • a day before (on Friday, when the main test day is on Saturday)
  • a day after (on Friday, when the main test date is on Thursday)

You will receive notification about your Speaking test date a week in advance. If you take your IELTS academic test on a computer, you have a free choice of Speaking test dates.

With IELTS Online, you can take your test at home or any private location with a stable internet connection.

If you choose this option, you will write the answers to the Listening, Reading and Writing sections on your computer. The Speaking test will be conducted with a trained IELTS Examiner via an online video call.

IELTS Academic test Part 1: Listening Tasks

Duration: 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer your responses to the answer sheet

Format: Four audio recordings in varying accents.

You will write your answers using:

  • multiple choice
  • matching
  • diagram labelling
  • sentence completion.

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  • Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
  • Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of a word and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.

Please note:
In the computer-delivered Listening test, the timings are slightly different from the paper-based test. This is because the paper-based test requires users to transfer answers to an answer sheet. This step becomes redundant when answering directly on a computer. 

  • Before the start of each part of the Listening test you will have some time to read the questions.
  • After the end of each part of the Listening test you will have some time to review your answers.
  • At the end of the Listening test, you will have 2 minutes to check your answers.
  • The timing of the Listening test is between 30 – 34 minutes.

IELTS Academic test Part 2: Reading Tasks

Duration: 60 minutes


  • Three long reading passages with tasks (including diagrams, graphs or illustrations
  • Texts range from descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical.

The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include skim reading, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, understanding logical arguments and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

This section includes three long texts which range from factual information to discussion pieces and analysis. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

IELTS Academic test Part 3: Writing Tasks

Duration: 60 minutes


  • One written task to describe, explain or summarise text or diagrams (minimum 150 words)
  • One essay task (minimum 250 words).

Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for, test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. There are two tasks:

  • Task 1 – you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
  • Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

IELTS Academic test Part 4: Speaking Tasks

Duration: 10 - 14 minutes


  • Face-to-face interview with your examiner including short questions about familiar topics and speaking in detail about one topic.
  • Please note: depending on the test centre location, you may be required to book the Speaking section of your test on a different day.

The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

  • Part 1 - the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
  • Part 2  - you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
  • Part 3 - you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

Some of our IELTS test centres in Sri Lanka are delivering the IELTS Speaking test via video calls. This means greater flexibility in delivering IELTS Speaking tests, along with increased availability.

You will take the Video-call Speaking test at an official IELTS test centre with the same high standard of identity verification. The test will be exactly the same as the in-person Speaking test in terms of content, scoring, timing, question format and security arrangements.

Delivered by an IELTS Speaking Examiner, the Video-call Speaking test will maintain the face-to-face features of the in-person Speaking test. 

For more information, please contact your local test centre at +94 (0)11 7521 521 (Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) 

Book your IELTS Academic test

Success starts with IELTS. If your goal is to study at university or work in an English speaking country, then IELTS academic is the right test for you. 

At the British Council, we are committed to providing you with the support you need to enable you to do well in the test. When you book with us, you get free and unlimited access to Road to IELTS Last Minute course. This includes nine IELTS preparation videos giving advice and tutorials, 100 IELTS online interactive activities and two IELTS Academic practice tests for each of the four skills.

Find an IELTS Academic test date in Sri Lanka

Before booking your IELTS academic test, make sure to check which test you need with the organisations you are applying to.