The Best Guide On How To Prepare For The IELTS Exam

Nov 28, 2022 | IELTS Test

Taking the IELTS test can be a very daunting prospect for many candidates. Needing a certain band score can be crucial to their migration application, job prospect or university placement. 

Whether you are taking the General or Academic IELTS test, there will be a certain level of IELTS preparation you will need to put in place in order to achieve a high band score and hit your desired mark.

When learning new skills for a test, you need to put in place a good revision strategy and learning plan. Otherwise, you will struggle to build the confidence you need in order to pass the test when it comes around.

So, what is the best way to prepare for the IELTS test? Every approach should be tailor made to your strengths and weaknesses. Here at English With An Expert we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you get ready for IELTS success.

Take Online IELTS Lessons For Your IELTS Preparation

One of the best places to start when it comes to preparing for the IELTS exam, is to speak with an expert who has helped candidates push themselves over their desired band score in the past. 

As you begin your IELTS preparation there’s no doubt that you will be trying to work out exactly how you can revise, while hoping to identify your weaknesses and create fun and engaging ways of studying English. 

These are all things that a qualified IELTS tutor can help you with. We have seen hundreds of different candidates in the same position that you find yourself in, and can certainly guide you on the best way to prepare for IELTS. 

Having somebody with years of IELTS experience to advise you both through lessons and by suggesting the best revision resources, is by far the most effective way to avoid having to sit the exam multiple times before achieving your desired band score. 

If you feel as though you are struggling with the IELTS test and how to prepare, then   visit our IELTS tutor page here to learn more about the different lesson packages and tailored support we can provide. We have set many on the road to IELTS success!

Get Started Now

Get Ready For IELTS By Understanding The Exam Itself

image of person taking no

Before you can put together a strong revision and study schedule, you will need to have a good understanding of what the IELTS test itself entails. By first preparing for the different aspects of the exam and then building an understanding of what is expected from the examiners, you can make sure the work you put into your study is as helpful as possible. 

How to prepare for the IELTS exam will differ according to the person. The test will follow the same format each time. Understanding this is crucial to ensuring your success. Below we have given a very brief explanation of each section. If you would like further information on the test, you can contact us here.

IELTS Writing. For this section of the exam, you will be tasked with writing two separate essays. Writing Task 1 (150 words) and Writing Task 2 (250 words). You will need a good level of vocabulary, punctuation (which is where many native speakers fail), and grammar. If you want to maximise your grade in this section of the test, read more about the IELTS Writing section of the exam here.

IELTS Speaking. The Speaking section of the IELTS exam will take place with a real person. In the past, the examiner was always in the same room as you, but these days they more often meet you online from their own home. 

This is why many embassies give priority to applicants with an IELTS qualification. Talking to a real person is a unique selling point of IELTS. It is the best way to see how proficiently you will be able to converse with natives in your target country of migration. 

The IELTS Speaking test is split into three parts. Part 1 which is about yourself, part 2 where you will be given a question to speak for 2 minutes on, and part three where you usually speak more generally about a topic in a way which is not focussed on yourself. .

IELTS Listening. This section of the test involves listening to four different recordings of spoken English. The first two sections will be focused around non-academic conversation, such as a conversation in a shop or somebody giving a guided tour of a museum. The second two sections will be professional or academic listening examples–this could be a university study group or a seminar. To learn more about the Listening element of the exam, .

IELTS Reading. The reading section of the exam is designed specifically to see how well you can process written information in English. This includes how well you can ignore non-relevant parts of a text. It contains 3 sections, totalling 40 questions overall. The texts will differ depending on whether you are taking the General IELTS or the Academic IELTS exam. To find out more about the Reading section of the exam, visit our IELTS Reading page here.

Make Sure You Use The Best Revision Books For IELTS Preparation

Best IELTS Books in 2024 Banner Image

When we are looking to expand our understanding of English and tailor it towards how to prepare for the IELTS test, we should always turn to books that are designed to help with exactly that. There are many textbooks and eBooks that have been written by IELTS experts. Each of them has different resources and practice exercises that help you really improve your skills for each component of the IELTS test.

You should make sure you include a wide range of different IELTS books in your reading list, as diversity in what you read will be the best way to prepare for the test itself.

The exam is designed in a way that tests all of the crucial elements which go into properly understanding the English language. There will be parts which need short answers, long answers, a good reading process and more. Therefore, ensure your revision includes a wide variety of questions and resources that will best help you improve your understanding of what the test writers want.

It’s also worthwhile to explore books that might not be specifically IELTS books but that do delve into the intricacies of English grammar and vocabulary. A solid grasp of grammatical rules and an expansive vocabulary are indispensable for achieving a high band score, especially in the Writing and Speaking sections. Books that offer drills and exercises in these areas can be as equally useful as the IELTS books we’ve mentioned in our guide.

How To Prepare For IELTS At Home & Keep Your IELTS Preparation Fun

IELTS Lessons and reading through textbooks, whilst incredibly useful, can often be a monotonous way to learn. With that in mind, what other ways can you improve your English fluency in ways that will help you with the IELTS exam? How can you prepare in a more interactive and enjoyable way?

For the Listening and Speaking sections of the test, the focus is on conversations. Either a conversation you are having or one that you are listening to. When you look at how to prepare for IELTS at home, you can practise for these elements by watching a TV series or Film that is in English.

Many people love a good Netflix series or a captivating film, and these are full of different conversations between different groups of people in any genre. Watching these will help you understand different accents, as well as expand your vocabulary beyond that which you see in textbooks. This can be very beneficial for both the Speaking and Listening parts of your exam.

Pro Tip: If you are going to break up some self-study time with an English TV show or film, do this either without subtitles in your own language. Watching with English subtitles will help you to better recognise words by sound and may improve your reading skills at the same time.

Use Model Answers & Get Practice IELTS Tests

IELTS Progress Check was a service offered by The British Council for candidates to get free practice IELTS tests and then have these marked by an examiner. However, from June 2024 this service is no longer available and accessing practice tests will become a little more difficult.

You will be able to get similar mock tests and professional feedback when you work with a professional IELTS tutor. This is going to be one of the main ways you’ll now have to identify weaknesses in your grammar, vocabulary and punctuation – all of which is critical for how you prepare for the IELTS test. As well as this, you can use the practice tests to build on the strengths you already have. There will be elements that you can safely identify as well rounded, allowing you to focus more of your IELTS preparation time on refining your skills in other areas.

Finally, look out for model answers which are available all over the internet. Here at English With An Expert, we publish model answers for different parts of the test every month. In these we explain the topic at hand as well as how we approach each question. 

Pro Tip: Remember that help is available. It is quite common for aspiring IELTS candidates to repeat the same mistakes or find it difficult to correct them independently. In this case it is certainly worth remembering that your best chance at acing the IELTS test is to work with an IELTS tutor, who will have seen these same mistakes in the past and knows just how to correct them.

Make Sure You Brush Up On Time Management For The IELTS Exam

We’ve already covered, briefly, the format of the IELTS test itself earlier in this guide. However, all of the aspects of the IELTS exam are time sensitive. It is therefore very important that you have adequate time management skills and can allocate the time needed to each section of the test.

When you are revising and taking mock tests, always make sure you test yourself under the same exam conditions. This is going to be a great way for you to work out where your time is best allocated when it comes to sitting the exam itself.

Learn The Different Band Scores & Their Criteria

IELTS band score calculator

Throughout this guide, we have touched on the fact that to do well in the IELTS exam, you need to know what examiners are looking for from your answers. What is just as important is that you know that you can afford to get wrong in order to still hit the mark you need.

It may sound a little bit negative to advise that you work at what you can afford to miss. But let’s be real, nobody is perfect. The chance of you scoring 100% on every part of the IELTS test is relatively non-existent. So, before you begin preparing for the IELTS test, it is important to know how many errors you will be able to make whilst still hitting your desired band score.

We have an IELTS Band Score Calculator available here, which you can use to check how many correct answers are needed in each section for bands 4.0-9.0.

Use Writing Corrections To Improve Your Scores In Task 1 & 2

Making sure you don’t lose marks in one of the most challenging areas, Writing, can be prepared for with IELTS Writing Corrections. Having your practice essays graded with feedback from a professional IELTS Tutor like Andy here at English With An Expert is a great way to access the higher band scores in IELTS Writing.

Unique feedback from an IELTS tutor is not just about highlighting weaknesses; it’s a personalised guide that aims at pinpointing exactly where and how you can elevate your responses to meet the criteria for your desired band score. Their main benefit lies in helping you identify and rectify your recurring mistakes, preventing them from negatively impacting your IELTS score.

Adding IELTS Writing Corrections into your IELTS preparation is a brilliant way to take it to another level and increase your chance of passing straight away. Through personalised feedback, your preparation goes beyond just learning English and gives you much better writing strategies, as well as helping you eliminate the mistakes which let you down, all of which ends with you scoring higher on the exam day itself!

Use IELTS Video Courses

For those who want external help, but perhaps don’t have the time or the budget for 1-1 coaching then you should look to use IELTS video courses from professional tutors like those here at English With An Expert.

IELTS Video Courses provide a structured and comprehensive overview of the IELTS exam, covering the intricacies of each section. Through expert-led tutorials, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of test format, question types, and scoring criteria than you would from self-study alone. As well as this, you will also be able to view video courses at any time that suits you, unlike lessons which are at set times. This means you’ll be able to tailor your study plan around any other commitments such as work and family life. 

However, to make the most out of IELTS video courses, candidates should integrate them into a broader study plan that includes all of the things that we’ve spoken about above, such as; Writing Corrections, 1-1 Lessons, Group Lessons, Books, and Model Answers – this way you’ll have the best chance of succeeding in the IELTS test.

Know When To Take The IELTS Test

Another theme that recurs from nearly any kind of aptitude testing in existence is knowing when to take the test itself. You wouldn’t take your practical driving test before you had ever put a car in reverse, so make sure you know when you are ready to take the IELTS test

If you are preparing to take the IELTS test with only self-study, then this can be a little more difficult. It will not be as easy to assess your progress pre-exam as it would be if you are working with an IELTS coach. However, that’s not to say you cannot work out when the time is right to take the IELTS test by yourself.

If you are regularly practising and writing model answers for the Writing Tasks, as well as revising your listening skills all under exam conditions, then the way you perform in these will give you a good idea on how well you’ll do in the real thing. 

Pro Tip – don’t seek help too late! You should approach a teacher at least 4 weeks before an exam–preferably more! 

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again!

We all want to pass an exam the first time we sit it. Having to rebook a test and then go back over the mistakes you made can be gruelling and demoralising–but don’t lose hope! Many candidates will have to have multiple attempts at the IELTS test before they get it right. But in the end, they do get it right!

With that being said, resitting the IELTS test repeatedly can become a very expensive challenge, especially if you find yourself making the same mistakes each time.

If this is the case, then we really do recommend that you speak to one of our IELTS tutors. Our lesson plans, whilst a larger commitment than self-study, will be much more cost-effective than having to pay for the IELTS test multiple times. 

What are you waiting for? Reach out and begin your journey to IELTS success with us today!

Get Started Now