Home Articles How to Prepare for IELTS Exams- Ten Practical Guides

How to Prepare for IELTS Exams- Ten Practical Guides



The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) grades your English language skills based on four key aspects of communication: speaking, writing, reading and listening.

Why is IELTS important?

More than 10,000 organisations globally trust IELTS, so when you take the test you can be confident that it is recognized by educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies around the world.

As one of the pioneers of four skills English language testing 30 years ago, IELTS continues to set the standard for English language testing today. Governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom use IELTS to process immigration applications.

How does IELTS work?

IELTS has been developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts and will test the full range of English skills needed for success in your new job or study placement abroad.

You’ll be assessed on the following elements:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

Choosing the right test

There are two IELTS tests available – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. The test you choose should be based on what it is you want to do.

IELTS Academic – measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment. It reflects aspects of academic language and evaluates whether you’re ready to begin training or studying.

IELTS General Training – measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and tests reflect both workplace and social situations.

If you are taking the IELTS test to support a UK visa application to work, live or study in the UK, you may need to take the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Academic or General Training or the IELTS for Life Skills test.

Who owns IELTS?

IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

International students and immigrants who want to study or move to an English speaking country are often required to take the IELTS exam to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. In 2018 about 3 million people sat for the IELTS and majority of them were students and immigrants moving to the UK, Australia and Canada. The examination is valid for 2 years and score ranges from 0 to 9.

The IELTS exam requires proper and adequate preparation to obtain a high score.

In today’s post, we share with you 10 practical tips to better prepare for IELTS exam. 
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1.     Practice Based On the Test Format

One pitfall you must avoid is not getting familiar with the test format. Remember that there are two versions of IELTS – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The Listening and the Speaking components are the same for both tests but the Reading and the Writing components are different. Read the Information for candidates booklet which provides essential information about how to respond correctly to each part of the test. Get to know what each level on the IELTS band score table means. Understand what the examiners are looking for in the Speaking and Writing tests by reading the assessment criteria. Get the facts. Don’t believe myths and rumours about the test. They will only distract you.

2.     Work On Your Vocabulary

You must read deliberately to understand words and their usage as they function in sentences and also in social context. Read vigorously: from newspapers, novels to online articles from reputable media outlets. This will help you develop your vocabulary and give you a wide array of words in the English Language.

3.     Early Registration

It may not be a popular opinion but one of the ways to do better in your IELTS examination is to register early. Early registration gives room for proper planning, and preparation. You have less anxiety and pressure while studying. One of the major reasons people fail or don’t meet up the expected score in their IELTS examination is because they register late and don’t have enough time to prepare. No one excel in an examination by accident. If you register early, you’ll have enough time to plan, prepare and excel.

4.     Create a Study Schedule.

Everyone have their study zone; the moment of the day where they assimilate effortlessly. To some it maybe at the middle of the night when serenity reigns; to others it might be when they visit the library and settle in a cubicle. Fitting your study time into your study zone will help you study comfortably.

It’s one thing to watch TV or listen to radio to be entertained. It’s another thing to do so with the intent to learn. Listen to radio and TV programs featuring native speakers to build your vocabulary and understand words and their usage. Listening to programs, say on BBC or CNN, will help you practice for your IELTS examination.

6.     Use the Dictionary effectively

Don’t be one of those who make dictionary a decoration in their homes. Dictionary is the easiest tool to build your vocabulary. You don’t even need to have a hard copy dictionary. A dictionary app on your phone is the way to go. In fact, if you don’t have a dictionary app on your phone right now, head over to app store and download one. It will help you a great deal in preparing for your IELTS exam.

7.     Study Sample Questions

IELTS exam can be tough if you are not well prepared. For a better chance at acing the exam, you have to practice sample questions. Practice the test using free IELTS test sample questions. You can also use the Official IELTS Practice Materials which you can purchase online or from your local test centre. These sample questions will not only help you prepare adequately, you also get to measure how much you have learned and how well you are likely to perform in the exam.

In addition to practicing sample questions, also consider taking an IELTS preparation course. A preparation course will help you practice the type of tasks included in an IELTS test (e.g. a short essay or letter for the Writing test), get feedback on your answers to practice questions, become more confident in your test-taking skills and help you decide if you are ready to take your IELTS test.

8.     Read in different formats

Reading in preparation for IELTS can become tedious and boring and you may switch off if you’re constantly reading textbooks. Why not expand your reading to texts you’re genuinely interested in. Magazines, newspapers and books are all valuable resources, and the more interested you are in the topic, the more likely you are to remember what you read.

9. Watch videos – with original subtitle!

There are millions of videos on YouTube and around the web from native English speakers with subtitles. Watch these videos to practice both reading and listening skills. You can download movie scripts easily online and read the subtitle as you watch. This is particularly useful if you don’t have a speaking partner and makes a nice change to boring textbooks. But don’t rely on the caption feature on YouTube videos.

10. Play Word games!

You don’t have to go out and buy a board game like Scrabble – although you could. There are a number of online word game resources that can help you improve your vocabulary. If you’re taking a study break then don’t waste it on a gossip website or instant messaging. Instead play a few word games and make the most of your time to prepare for the exam.

The key to acing any exam is to understand and prepare within the scope of the exam. Use the tips shared in this video to get ready to excel. Have you sat for the IELTS exam in the past? What other tips on preparing for the IELTS exam would you like to share? Let us know in the comment section below. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa, this is a good time to subscribe. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTER!

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