Are you going to take IELTS? Then, you probably know that the key to success on this test is decent preparation. It is essential to master every part of the test beforehand not to struggle with the format during the actual exam. Moreover, good preparation will reduce stress and anxiety. Thus, it increases your chance of getting the desired IELTS score.
Going through IELTS preparation? Our online study guide will help you!
Our experts gathered all the necessary IELTS preparation tips. You’ll also learn essential tricks for mental and physical well-being before and during the exam. Good luck!
✔️ 9 General IELTS Preparation Tips
Let’s start your exam preparation with a few of the most crucial tips related to the entire test and your role in it. They will help you to complete each stage of the exam successfully.
Here are some general IELTS preparation tips:
- Find a tutor and get study materials.
In the initial stage, you should find a highly-qualified tutor who will support you throughout the entire journey. Make sure they know what this exam is about and have positive feedbacks from their previous students. You can study at home alone, but then you’ll need extra effort and time dedicated to the cause.
- Get familiar with the format.
Explore the test’s format to know what is expected from you in each section. Pay attention to the keywords – they will tell you what exactly you need to do.
For example, if the task says “write a comparison and contrast essay on the topic of local business VS. international business,” your key phrase will be a comparison and contrast essay.
- Expand your vocabulary.
This is what you should consistently work on:
- watch movies and TV series;
- listen to podcasts;
- analyze the lyrics of your favorite English songs;
- read books, news, social media;
- set your smartphone and laptop to English.
There are so many strategies to enrich your vocabulary – use every single opportunity!
- Learn grammar and punctuation.
On the IELTS test, you should demonstrate your proficiency in English. But what will happen if you misuse the article, forget about the comma, or mix up tenses? Of course, your qualification will drop. To get a high band, practice English grammar and punctuation regularly.
- Communicate in English.
Try to find someone who will talk to you in English (ideally, it should be a native speaker). Leave your comfort zone and communicate with other people, paying attention to your pronunciation and fluency. Talk to yourself out loud to hear how you pronounce words. You can also record yourself and then analyze your fluency to boost your speaking skills.
- Listen carefully.
Try to consume as many new words in English as possible. Listen to the songs, podcasts, interviews, and everything in English. You will expand your vocabulary, learn new grammar constructions, and improve your pronunciation.
- Stay on topic.
Remain cohesive all the time during the exam. Don’t go too far in your ideas. You should always be ready to wrap up your thoughts as soon as the time is over. Practice finishing your ideas dynamically and effectively beforehand.
- Practice with and without a timer.
On the IELTS test, you have specific time restrictions. So, while preparing, don’t forget to use a timer at least sometimes. Having skills of answering promptly, you will feel less stressed during the exam.
And remember the essential tip:
- Practice makes perfect.
Embrace the challenge and practice every single type of task multiple times. The more you study, the more valuable skills you gain, and the less stress you will have during the exam. Be patient, get some practice tests, and stand out on the IELTS test!
📚 How to Prepare for IELTS Exam: Section by Section
Now, as you have got familiar with general IELTS preparation tips, let’s explore each exam stage in detail. You will find helpful tips oft IELTS reading, listening, writing, and speaking parts in the following sections.
First and foremost: There are two major types of IELTS: Academic and General. In terms of format and overall difficulty, they differ in reading and writing sections, which you’ll see in later sections.
There is a specific time limit for each part of the exam. See the table below to get detailed information:
|Exam Section||Time Limit|
|Listening||40 minutes (30 minutes to complete the tasks + 10 minutes to transfer the answers to the answer sheet)|
|Reading||60 minutes (the answers must be transferred to the answer sheet within this time frame)|
IELTS Listening Tips
IELTS listening task is the first part of the exam. Here you will listen to four different recordings and answer 40 questions in various formats:
- graph/chart/scheme labeling,
- sentence completion,
- short-answer question.
IELTS listening test consists of four sections. See the table below to understand what will be included in each part.
|Section 1||A dialogue on an every-day topic (e.g., a conversation between a restaurant visitor and a waiter).|
|Section 2||A monologue on a social topic (e.g., a speech about the importance of recycling).|
|Section 3||A dialogue set in an educational context (e.g., a conversation between two students about the upcoming assignment).|
|Section 4||A monologue on an academic subject (e.g., a part of a lecture at university).|
How can you boost your listening skills and succeed on the exam? Follow our IELTS listening tips!
- Practice multitasking. Yes, during the IELTS listening test, it is helpful. You will need to write down the correct answer quickly, still listening to the recording.
- Get familiar with accents. Listen to native speakers of different origins (British, Americans, Canadians, Australians, etc.). You may have any of them during the exam.
- Practice listening to both monologues and dialogues. You will have both of them during the exam.
- Try as many IELTS listening exercises as possible. There is a wide variety of questions. You may even face map labeling or flow-chart completion. So, make sure you know how to do all of them.
During the test:
- First and foremost, check if your headphones are working correctly. If not, ask the examiner to fix this problem.
- Read the questions before the recording starts.
- Read the example given at the beginning of each section. It is indeed helpful!
- Listen carefully and write down the answers on your task sheet. Do it as quickly as possible. Use abbreviations to save time (but make sure you will understand them later).
- Pay attention to the word limit. Don’t write more than expected – you will get 0 for this question.
- Spelling matters! Double-check if your answer sheet is free of mistakes.
- Use capital letters. This is not a strict rule, but we recommend you to do this. Using capital letters only will eliminate the chance of making a mistake in the capitalization of specific words.
IELTS Reading Tips
IELTS reading test is designed to check your reading comprehension and your ability to skim, analyze, identify the writer’s main points, and summarize the information. The test contains 40 questions.
The reading part is different for academic and general exams:
In IELTS Academic, the reading section consists of three long texts of varying nature. They can be descriptive, analytical, discursive, and factual. The reading passages for the academic level are usually taken from books, magazines, newspapers, and journals.
In IELTS General Training, the reading section includes several simple texts that you are likely to face daily, living in an English-speaking environment.
Look at some tips on how to succeed in the IELTS reading test regardless of the exam type:
- Read texts in English in your spare time. It can be just a paragraph in a newspaper, a news article, or an entire academic paper. The more you read, the more experience you get.
- Practice different techniques. Try skimming, scanning, in-depth comprehension. All of these skills will be handy during the exam.
- Set a timer. Make sure you fit within the given time limit (60 minutes).
During the test:
- Add your answers directly to the answer sheet. You will not have additional time to transfer them like in the listening part.
- Use only capital letters to avoid capitalization mistakes.
- Proofread before submitting the answer sheet – there should be no misspellings.
IELTS Writing Tips
IELTS writing test is the third part of the entire exam. It aims to evaluate your writing skills and your ability to convey your thoughts using words logically and cohesively.
Just like the reading part, IELTS writing tasks are different for academic and general formats. The table below will explain the disparity.
|IELTS Academic||IELTS General|
|Task 1||To write the summary of information from a graph, chart, diagram, table, map, or any other visual figure. |
Minimum word limit: 150 words.
|To compose a letter that would request the information or explain a common situation. |
Minimum word limit: 150 words.
|Task 2||To compose an essay according to the required type (opinion essay, discussion, advantages/disadvantages, etc.). |
Minimum word limit: 250 words.
|To compose an essay according to the required type (opinion essay, discussion, advantages/disadvantages, etc.). The topic and question are more straightforward than in IELTS Academic. |
Minimum word limit: 250 words.
Searching for advice on how to prepare for the IELTS writing test? Our insightful tips will help you!
- Get familiar with sample essays. The more you read, the more concepts you absorb. Besides, it helps to memorize the format and improve your spelling.
- Also, analyze what you read. Try to understand whether the essay corresponds to the topic, the arguments are expressed logically, and the examples are appropriate.
- Write essays. Practice coming up with the main points, structuring your ideas. Train composing a catchy introduction and a dynamic conclusion.
- Learn to count your words fast. Estimate how much space 150 and 250 words take on the sheet of paper with your handwriting. You have a limited amount of time, so you might not be able to count every word. Knowing how much space on the page the minimum number of words takes will save your time.
During the test:
- Devote your time wisely (20 minutes in task 1; 40 minutes on task 2).
- Search for keywords to understand the exact task.
- Be clear and concise. Avoid too wordy sentences and too long paragraphs.
- Follow the required structure.
- Use a variety of linking words to ensure coherence and cohesion.
- Avoid repetitions and passive voice.
- Prove the richness of your vocabulary and grammar knowledge to the fullest.
- If you are unsure about a word, find an alternative.
- Make sure you have logical arguments and suitable examples.
- Revise and proofread your work before submitting it.
- Ensure that your handwriting is clear and all the punctuation marks are vivid.
IELTS Speaking Tips
IELTS speaking part is a face-to-face interview with the examiner designed to evaluate your ability to communicate in English. The test is held separately for each participant and recorded. The speaking part can be scheduled on the afternoon of the IELTS test day. Sometimes, it is organized the week before or after the exam.
The test consists of three parts:
|Part 1||4-5 minutes||Common questions about age, family, hobby, studies, or occupation.|
|Part 2||3-4 minutes||The impromptu speech on a topic from a card given by the examiner. You will have one minute to prepare and then two minutes to speak. Then, the examiner might ask 1-2 questions regarding the same topic.|
|Part 3||4-5 minutes||The examiner will ask the follow-up questions regarding the topic from part 2. It will allow you to discuss more broad ideas and concepts.|
To succeed on the test, follow our IELTS speaking tips:
- Organize practice tests at home. Imagine that you are on an actual exam. Set the timer and read the potential questions from the examiner. Try to answer them as smoothly as possible.
- Investigate IELTS speaking topics. There are plenty of them available online. Examine them and form the possible answers to the questions.
- While practicing, record yourself. Then, listen to the recordings and analyze your mistakes.
- Master your pronunciation and fluency. Practice applying a wide range of tenses, grammar constructions, and sentence structures.
During the exam:
- Calm down and be confident as you speak.
- Don’t give simple answers, like “yes” or “know.” Add value to the replies by providing additional information.
- Answer the questions directly. Don’t go off-topic.
- Keep track of time, especially in part 2. Here, you need to cover all the points within the given time limit. Make sure you divide your time for each point equally.
- Be a quick responder – don’t make your pauses too long.
- Ask the examiner to repeat or paraphrase the question if you didn’t get it.
🕯️ Tricks for Physical & Mental Preparation
No doubts, preparation for the exam is not only about constant practice and memorizing the format. Your success also depends on your stress and anxiety that you need to reduce to the lowest possible level.
In the following sections, you will find essential IELTS preparation tips on your behavior.
The Day Before the IELTS Exam
Preparing for the test the night before the exam is quite a widespread practice among students. However, having practiced before, you have nowhere to rush: you already know all the essential information that you learned long. All you have to do is to revise the material and calm down.
Here are our recommendations on how to prepare for IELTS at home the day before the exam:
- Create a preparation plan for a day. Don’t make it too complex, as you only need to revise the essential info.
- Visit the official IELTS website. Make sure you remember all the rules and regulations correctly.
- Let your brain rest and refresh. Don’t try to remember every single note that you took while preparing.
- Double-check the location and time of the exam.
- Have enough sleep.
Day of the IELTS Exam
Confusion and fear are common feelings on exam day, especially when it is such an important test as IELTS. But we know how to help you!
With these tips, you will easily manage your anxiety and approach tasks like a pro:
- Have enough rest and eat breakfast. The written part of the test (all the sections except for speaking) lasts for 2 hours 40 minutes. And you will not have any break. Rest and eat to make sure your brain and body are ready to operate.
- Take your ID. Double-check what ID you indicated while registering and take the same document. It’s super important. Without or with a wrong ID, you will not be permitted to complete the test.
- Arrive earlier. There are several procedures (ID check, photo) before the test starts. Ensure you have enough time to complete all the steps before the exam.
- Follow the instructions. Listen carefully to the supervisor when they explain the rules. If something is unclear, politely ask again.
- Seek the supervisor’s permission before leaving the test room. You can go to the bathroom if you need it. Yet, you will lose your precious time. Never leave the room during the listening test since you will distract the other exam takers and miss the recording yourself.
There are also two crucial questions that you may have already asked:
- What to take in the test room? You are allowed to take two pencils, one pen, one eraser, and a transparent bottle of water (without any labels). That’s it.
- What not to take in the test room? No phones, watches, or any other personal belongings are allowed. The examination room will have a clock on the wall, so you will be able to keep track of time.
Exams are stressful – we know it! But you’ve got it. Take a deep breath, calm down, and demonstrate your excellent English language knowledge.
Thanks for reading the article, and good luck with your preparation! Don’t forget to send our IELTS preparation tips to your friends if they need help with this exam.