The Most Difficult Part of the IELTS Test, Ranked

Choose the part you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 21, 2024 06:32
Many learners find that certain sections of the IELTS test pose more of a challenge than others. Understanding which areas are universally difficult can aid in better preparation and, ultimately, in achieving a higher score. This can be especially useful for educators and test-prep services looking to refine their curriculum to offer the most effective assistance where it's needed the most. By facilitating a dynamic ranking of the toughest parts of the IELTS test, this tool invites both past and prospective test-takers to contribute their views. It's a community-driven approach where users can see which components others have struggled with and adjust their study strategies accordingly. As votes pour in and preferences change, the ranking updates in real-time, reflecting the collective opinion and experiences of a diverse group of participants.

What Is the Most Difficult Part of the IELTS Test?

  1. 1

    Reading Comprehension

    The Reading section's dense academic texts and time pressure make finding and understanding detailed information quickly a significant challenge.
    • Time Limit: 60 minutes
    • Number of Texts: 3
  2. 2

    Writing Task 2

    Many find the essay writing in Task 2 of the Writing section to be the most challenging part, due to the need for coherent arguments, precise vocabulary, and clear structure within a limited time.
    • Time Limit: 40 minutes
    • Task Requirement: Write a 250-word essay
  3. 3

    Speaking Part 2

    The long turn, where candidates speak for 1-2 minutes on a given topic, can be daunting due to the need for spontaneous, extended speech on possibly unfamiliar topics.
    • Preparation Time: 1 minute
    • Speech Duration: 1-2 minutes
  4. 4

    Grammar Accuracy

    Accurate use of grammar across all sections, especially Writing and Speaking, is essential for achieving a high score, and errors can significantly impact the final grade.
    • Assessment Criterion: Grammar and Accuracy
  5. 5

    Listening for Details

    The Listening section requires picking out specific details from conversations and monologues, which can be challenging due to accents, speed, and background noise.
    • Section Length: 30 minutes
    • Audio Types: Conversations and monologues
  6. 6

    Time Management

    Across all sections, managing the limited time effectively while performing tasks is a common difficulty, impacting performance under pressure.
    • Total Test Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
  7. 7

    Vocabulary Range

    A wide-ranging vocabulary is necessary for all sections to express ideas effectively and understand texts and conversations.
    • Importance: Essential for all sections
  8. 8

    Paraphrasing Skills

    In both Reading and Writing sections, the ability to paraphrase effectively is crucial for demonstrating understanding and avoiding plagiarism.
    • Skill Importance: High for Reading and Writing sections
  9. 9

    Understanding a Range of Accents

    The Listening section includes a variety of English accents, which can be challenging for test-takers not familiar with these variations.
    • Accent Varieties: British, American, Australian, and others
  10. 10

    Coping with Nerves

    Test anxiety can significantly affect performance, with many candidates finding the stress of the testing environment to be a major challenge.
    • Common Issue: Test anxiety

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult part of the IELTS test. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or part is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 0 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each part once every 24 hours. The rank of each part is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


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Additional Information

More about the Most Difficult Part of the IELTS Test

Reading Comprehension
Rank #1 for the most difficult part of the IELTS test: Reading Comprehension (Source)
The IELTS test challenges many students. It tests skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Each part has its own difficulties. Yet, one part often stands out as the hardest for most test-takers. This section requires a blend of skills, quick thinking, and precise answers.

Many students feel pressure during this part. The time limit adds to the stress. They must manage their time well to complete all tasks. Each task has its own set of rules. Missing one detail can lead to a lower score. This makes it crucial to stay focused and organized.

Another challenge is understanding the content. The topics can be broad. They may cover areas that students are not familiar with. This can make it hard to grasp the main ideas quickly. Students need to practice with a wide range of topics to prepare.

Vocabulary is also a key factor. Students must know many words and their meanings. They should be able to use them correctly in context. This requires regular practice and learning. Building a strong vocabulary can help in understanding and responding to questions.

Grammar plays a big role too. Correct grammar is essential for clear communication. Mistakes can confuse the meaning. Students should review grammar rules and practice using them. This helps in forming correct sentences and expressing ideas clearly.

Another skill needed is critical thinking. Students must analyze information and make connections. They should be able to draw conclusions and support them with evidence. This skill can be developed through practice and feedback.

Practice is the best way to improve. Students should take practice tests under timed conditions. This helps them get used to the format and time limits. Reviewing answers and understanding mistakes is also important. It helps to identify areas that need more work.

Many students find it helpful to join study groups. Sharing tips and experiences can provide new insights. It also offers support and motivation. Teachers and tutors can also provide guidance. They can give feedback and suggest strategies for improvement.

Staying calm is crucial during the test. Stress can affect performance. Students should practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, positive thinking, and taking breaks can help. A good night’s sleep before the test is also important.

In summary, this part of the IELTS test is tough for many reasons. Time management, understanding content, vocabulary, grammar, and critical thinking are all key factors. With practice and preparation, students can improve their skills. Staying calm and focused during the test will also help.

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