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Do IELTS Questions Repeat?

As you prepare to take the IELTS test, it’s natural to wonder if questions will repeat. Maybe you’ve been practicing with the official IELTS preparation materials, and you’re hoping to get one of the same questions when taking the actual exam. 

Or you might be worried that you won’t understand something that the examiner says during the speaking section of the exam. Are you allowed to ask them to repeat themselves? 

In this article, we will answer these questions and more to make sure that you feel prepared and confident for IELTS. 

What are the Different Sections of the IELTS Test?

The IELTS Exam is the world’s most popular and reputable English language proficiency test. Over three million people take IELTS every year. IELTS is necessary if you want to study, work or immigrate to an English-speaking country

Over 11,000 organizations trust IELTS, so your future employer, educational institution, or immigration authority will likely accept your IELTS score as proof of your command of the English language. 

IELTS will test your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. You will take the first three parts of the test on the same day. The speaking section might be held on a different day; it depends on your local testing center. 

  • IELTS Listening: The listening section contains 40 questions (3 Sections — Section 1, Section 2, Section 3) and is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills, such as how well you recognize the main ideas of a conversation, understand the opinions and attitudes of different speakers, and comprehend an argument. 
  • IELTS Reading: The reading section also contains 40 questions and consists of three texts. After reading them, you will answer questions that show how well you understood the main idea of the texts as well as details and subtleties like implied meaning and inferences. 
  • IELTS Writing: The writing section is broken into two tasks. You will be asked to write a minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and a minimum of 250 words for Task 2. The essay questions are designed to test how well you organize your ideas and to evaluate the scope of your vocabulary and grammar. 
  • IELTS Speaking: In the speaking section of the test, you will talk to a certified IELTS examiner. The speaking exam consists of three parts:
    • In the first part (Part 1 or Task 1), you will be asked to introduce yourself to the examiner. 
    • In the second part (Part 2 or Task 2) , you will receive a topic card and speak about the given topic.
    • In the third part (Part 3 or Task 3) , the examiner will ask you more detailed questions about the topic, giving you a chance to discuss and develop your ideas. 

Where Do the IELTS Questions Come From?

Test writers from different English-speaking countries write the IELTS questions. The content is developed to reflect situations that you are likely to come across in daily life. 

However, the reading texts are an exception. IELTS reading texts are sourced from authentic materials such as books, newspapers, journals, magazines, advertisements, and notices. Many of the texts are academic. 

The questions for the writing tasks can cover similar topics (we’ll give examples a bit further on), but the wording of the questions is changed. 

  • IELTS Listening Questions: The listening section is divided into four parts.
    • The first section is often about using English in daily life in an English-speaking country. For example, booking a table at a restaurant or talking about transportation. 
    • The second section often contains a map or diagram which you need to study. 
    • The last two sections are typically related to academic subjects, with the final section generally being the most difficult. 
  • IELTS Speaking Sections:
    • In the first section of the speaking exam, the four most common topics address your job, studies, hometown, and home. Other topics involved leisure time, sports, pets, shopping, etc. 
    • In Speaking Part 2, you will be asked to speak for 3 – 4 minutes on a topic. The questions are often stories about you, your opinions, and things that have happened in your life. You might be asked to describe a book you have read recently or a family member that you get along with well. 
    • In Speaking Part 3, the examiner will ask you a broad range of questions based on the topic you had in Part 2. This part of the exam lasts for 4 – 5 minutes. For example, if your topic was about family, you might be asked what role grandparents play in your country or how you think the family unit will change in the future. 

Are IELTS Questions Repeated in Speaking?

The short answer is no. The examiner will ask you each question once and will wait for your response. 

But wait! Here’s something important that not everybody knows: you CAN ask your examiner to repeat their questions in Parts 1 and 3 of the IELTS Speaking test. That’s right, in case you didn’t hear the question clearly or didn’t quite catch what they said, you can ask them to repeat it. 

Your examiner will repeat each question once if asked. However, they won’t do it if you ask them to repeat the question a third time.

Instead, they will move on with the interview. So don’t be afraid to ask the examiner to repeat a question you didn’t quite catch. 

Here are some appropriate phrases for asking for clarification during the IELTS: 

  • “Would you mind repeating that question?”
  • “Sorry, I didn’t hear the question. Could you please repeat it?” 
  • “I’m afraid I didn’t catch that last word. Could you please repeat it?”

If you didn’t understand a question, it’s better to ask the examiner to repeat it than to try to guess. 

Part 2 is different because the question is on a card. If you don’t know one of the words on the card, do not ask the examiner to help you. Instead, try to guess what the word means from the context of the question. 

In Part 3, you can ask the examiner to rephrase a question you might not have completely understood. You can use phrases such as: 

  • “Sorry, I didn’t quite get that. Can you please rephrase the question?” 
  • “Could you please rephrase the question differently?” 

If you’re still confused and don’t understand the question, don’t ask the examiner to repeat it a third time. Instead, you can talk about something related to the question. You might say something like, “I’m afraid I’m not very familiar with that topic, but I can tell you about….” 

Remember, saying something is better than saying nothing! If you need more time to answer a question, be honest and tell your examiner, “That’s a tricky question! Can you give me a second to think about it?” 

Are IELTS Questions Repeated in IELTS Reading?

Again, the short answer is no. The good news is that everything is written down – both the texts and the questions, so you can re-read any questions that might be confusing. 

And no, you will not get a text that you previously studied in the IELTS prep materials. The texts and questions on the actual exam will be different. 

Here are some tips on scoring well in the reading section: 

It’s helpful to read the questions before you read the texts in the reading section. It will help you manage your time better to more or less know what you’re looking for as you read the texts. 

If you take a paper test, you can write down notes or highlight and underline important words and phrases. The IELTS examiner will not see your notes because your answers are not written on the question paper. 

Be patient. One strategy is to answer the easy questions first and then go back to the more difficult ones. Pay attention to keywords that can help you to identify important sections of the text. 

No rule says you have to answer the questions chronologically. A different strategy is to start with Part 3, as it usually takes the longest. 

Are IELTS Questions Repeated in Listening?

No, the questions in the listening section cannot be repeated. The audio tracks are only played once, and there is no way to ask for them to be repeated. The questions themselves are written, so you can read them over again if you don’t immediately understand them. It’s crucial to build good listening skills before you go to take the exam. 

Here are a few tips to help you get ahead on the listening section: 

  • Learn to move on at the right time: If you missed a question, you may be tempted to go back and try to work out the answer. But in the meantime, the audio track is still running and you may end up missing even more answers! Wait until the end of the listening exam. If you are taking a paper test, you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers and you can use this time to fill in any missing questions. (If you are taking the IELTS test on a computer, you will have 2 minutes to check your answers at the end.) 
  • Use the questions to better understand the audio: Quickly reading over the questions before you start listening to the audio will give you a feel for the information in the audio track before you even start listening. For example, you may find out that you need to listen for a specific name or a specific time if the track is about travel and timetables. 
  • Learning alternative ways to express the same thing is crucial! Answers often appear as synonyms. Learning to identify synonymous language will help you a lot. For example, a speaker might say, “The project was initiated last month.” And one of the questions might be, “When did the project start?” Knowing that “initiate” is a synonym of “start” is key here. 

Are IELTS Questions Repeated in Writing?

Once more, the answer is no. The essay questions never repeat, but similar topics are often used for the essays, although the wording of the essay questions is always changed. 

For example, you might see a practice question like, “What role do you think parents should play in their child’s education?” 

And a question on the exam like, “Why do you think that some parents put so much pressure on their children to perform well in school?” 

Now the IELTS Writing section is critical. As there are only two tasks, each one contributes significantly to your overall IELTS band score. Writing Task 2 is especially important, as it will make up 66% of your score on the writing test. 

Here are some of the most common topics in the IELTS writing section:

  • Environment
  • Health
  • Business & Money
  • Economics
  • Education 
  • Technology
  • Family & Children
  • Food
  • Work
  • Society
  • Globalization
  • Public Transport 

It’s helpful to keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers in Writing Task 2.

For example, suppose the question is about the role that parents should play in their child’s education; and you believe that every parent should home educate their child (even though this is not very realistic) — as long as you can coherently support your argument by answering ‘why’ and giving examples. In that case, it won’t affect your band score. 

Keep in mind that your essay in Task 2 should have no more than five paragraphs: an introduction, 2 to 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 

Does IELTS Use Any of the Same Questions for the Official Test Prep Materials And the Actual Test?  

In the Reading and Listening sections, no.

The questions will be completely different from the ones you’ve practiced in the prep materials. 

However, you may receive a question you’ve practiced in the speaking section of the test. This is because the first part of the speaking test deals with introductions, and there are only so many questions that can be asked.

As for the topic that you’ll be asked in the second part of the speaking exam, there is a tiny chance that you’ll be asked to speak about a topic that you’ve come across in the official preparation materials, but the options are very slim. It’s better to practice and understand how to score highly regardless of the questions you are asked. 

Should You Memorize Questions And Responses for Your IELTS Exam?

In short, no. Don’t waste your time memorizing answers. 

IELTS examiners are trained to spot memorized answers, and you will likely be penalized if they think you are giving a memorized response. 

Don’t memorize answers

Many IETLS test-takers think that the best way to do well in the speaking test is to remember scripted answers and use these in the test. This is a bad idea because memorized answers are very obvious and examiners are trained to spot them. You will not only lose marks, but the examiners may also ask you more difficult questions to test your English and establish your real level.

A better strategy is to prepare for the speaking test by reading and learning interesting ideas and vocabulary related to each question. Then you will be able to answer any question with flexibility and ease. 

Additional FAQs on IELTS Exam Questions

Are IELTS Questions the Same All Over the World?

IELTS is an international test, and test creators and testing centers make sure that every version of the test is the same level of difficulty worldwide.

The difficulty level will be the same wherever you sit the test, it’s essential to think about where you will feel the most comfortable and confident taking the test. 

Can You Repeat the IELTS Exam?

Yes, you can sit for the exam again. There is no limit to how many times you can take the IELTS test. You can then use the result of your highest-scoring test.

However, it’s best to study well before retaking the test. IELTS has lots of free official online practice materials that will help you prepare and improve your band score. There are also numerous free online resources, YouTube channels, podcasts, books, mock tests, etc. that you can take to improve your IELTS score.


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