Stay Calm with these IELTS Tips

Preparing for your IELTS test?  Here are 10 top tips to give you the best chance of passing:

  1. Preparation.  The IELTS test is a test of your level of English.  So you need to start by learning English.  Find a motivating class or a English language tutor.  If you are not sure where to start the look for a tutor with a CELTA or DELTA qualification.
  2. Learn from your mistakes.  This especially applies if you self study.  You need to do exercises which you self-mark, or an electronic system which marks your work for you.  Similarly a class where the tutor corrects your English and marks your work is essential.
  3. Learn, don’t memorise. When learning English try not just to memorise it for the exam – you will find it very difficult and it is unlikely to stick.  Instead relax and work through exercises and speak in English to native speakers as soon as possible.
  4. Prepare for the listening with active listening. This involves listening in short extracts, repeating what you have heard and explaining what you have heard. Another form of active listening is to take notes whilst listening – whether to a recording or a native speaker.
  5. Know the IELTS test format.  If you are not prepared for what you see you will feel under more pressure in the test.  The test is divided into three sections and has 40 questions to answer.
  6. Start with the title.  The title will give you the contact of the text – it might be a question which the text will answer.
  7. Skim read the text.  You don’t need to understand all the text, nor translate it.  However if you have had a read through first you will know where to start looking to answer questions.pass ielts
  8. Look out for key words.  As well as the vocabulary you need to look out for the link works.  For example but means that one statement may contradict another, and not is a key word to look out for and understand.
  9. Answer Listening questions in the order they appear. The listening questions normally follow the order of the information in the recording.
  10. If you write less than 150 words in Task 1 or less than 250 in Task 2 you will lose marks.  There is no maximum number of words for either task.
  11. In the speaking task always speak directly to the Examiner, not to the recording equipment.  If you reply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to an Examiner’s question, try to add more detail to your answer. For each question, aim to explain at least one point.
  12. Manage your time.  A very common mistake is to take too long on the first part of the test.  Overall you have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions.  So ensure you move on to the next part – and then at the end decide where you are going to spend the remainder of the time.
  13. Practice.  Practice Makes Perfect is a common English expression.  Ask your tutor for some practice IELTS tests – as well as learning new English you will experience the test and have an idea about where you need to spend your time.

Good luck.

IELTS Explained

If you are learning or teaching English and don’t yet know all about IELTS then read on – it’s probably the most influential English test in the world at the moment!

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is similar in some ways to the TOEFL test.

Who takes IELTS?

IELTS is for non-native speakers of English, and there are two variations (although half the test is the same for both).  Take the Academic IELTS test in order to enter an English-speaking university.  Take the General IELTS test for any other situation, for example to demonstrate your level of English for a job applications.  In addition some countries require a particular level in the test for immigration or visa purposes.

What’s the structure of the tests?

The test has four sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The first three sections are paper-based, roughly an hour each, and you will normally doing them in the morning.  The speaking test is normally held in the afternoon although some test centres allow candidates to book a speaking test on a different day.

listening practiceIs there a IELTS test for different levels?

No!  This means that if you are a beginner or even intermediate level it can be daunting.  The first task is often a graph or table of numerical information with questions. However if you have completed lots of practice tests you will be better prepared and find them less challenging.

What is the speaking test like?

In Parts 1 and 2 most of the questions are informal questions about you. You might get questions like “Do you enjoy reading?” do which you should replace with three or four short and medium sentences -try to give at least one specific answer.

Where do I take the test?

Go to to find your nearest test centre.  There are test centres all over the world! It is quite likekly to be at a language schools, college or universities.

How much should I prepare for the IELTS test?

Step 1: learn English – you made already have made good progress here, especially if you can understand the gist of this article.  Step 2: practice your English – if you are in a native-English country then get out there and talk to and listen to real people.  Step 3: do English practice exercises whether on paper or the internet.  Do ensure you do a mix of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Step 4: get at least five IELTS practice papers and work through them.