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Top Tips & Tricks for Taking the IELTS

If English is not your native language and you’d like to study a degree abroad in English, you’ll have to take an International English Language Test (IELTS) test. The IELTS test format and rules are somewhat different from regular school exams so we’ve prepared some IELTS exam tips and advice to help you get totally prepared for the test and get your desired score. If you don’t want to lose marks by not being prepared, take a few minutes to read’s top tips for IELTS takers.

Want to know if you're ready to take the IELTS test? Take our free quiz.

Before test day - some helpful IELTS tips

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Work on your weaknesses to make sure it does not negatively affect your total score. For example, if you’re a slow reader, focus on the reading test more than writing, listening and speaking tests.

2. Have a study plan

Make a plan before you start studying for IELTS test and have a tailored study plan based on your areas of strengths and weaknesses.

3. Study the material

Attend an IELTS preparation course, if possible. The preparation courses provide you with the IELTS material, as well as the tips and tricks that you need to know. If you don’t have access to IELTS preparation courses, you can hire a qualified private teacher instead. An English teacher will also help you make a study plan.

4.Practice until you feel confident

Practice boosts your self-confidence. For the speaking test, find a friend to practice speaking English with. While reading English magazines, practice skimming the texts for the reading test. Watch movies in English language every night and surround yourself with English language news and songs to improve your listening skills.

5. Practice under time pressure

Test yourself in a 2 hours and 45 minutes time-frame just like the exam day. This will help you get to know what it feels like to take the reading, writing and listening tests consecutively. The more you practice under time pressure, the better you can manage your time.

6. Check out the official IELTS website

The official IELTS website is the best source of information for IELTS candidates. You can read about the rules and regulations of the test, the test format, and find useful IELTS exam tips and materials such as books, tests and videos on the website.

7. Check the location of the exam

In order to be on time on the exam day, make sure that you know exactly where the IELTS test center is and find out how to access the location.

Test day - some helpful IELTS tips

1. Get a good night's sleep

Make sure that you get enough rest the night before the IELTS test as tiredness will directly affect your ability to concentrate.

2. Eat breakfast

Eat a good meal before the exam. Your brain definitely functions better when you’re not hungry.

3. Wear comfortable clothes

Wear appropriate clothing that won’t distract you from concentrating on the exam. Don’t wear clothes that are too tight, and consider the fact that the exam room might be cold or warm so dress in layers.

4. Take a soda to the exam hall

You are allowed to take a transparent bottle of water, pencil, eraser and passport to the exam hall. But instead of water, you can also take a bottle of soda to keep your awareness and blood sugar high as it contains both caffeine and sugar.

5. Pay attention to spelling & punctuation

Spelling and punctuation are very important throughout the entire IELTS test and you’ll lose points if your answers are spelled incorrectly or you use punctuation incorrectly.

6. Pay attention to the word limits

Keep in mind that you will lose marks if you exceed the word limits. So pay attention to where the answers should be “not more than three words.” as well as the writing tasks, which should be 250 and 150 words.

Tips for the IELTS writing test

  • Don't use spoken English in your writing.
  • Write Task 2 first, as it contributes more to your total score.
  • Make sure your handwriting is legible, tidy, and neat.

Tips for the IELTS speaking test

  • Listen to the questions carefully before you answer.
  • Don't answer the question if you're unsure about what to answer. You can ask the examiner to repeat or clarify the question for you.
  • Be confident and relaxed, and do your best.

Tips for the IELTS reading test:

  • Don’t spend too much time on the questions you can’t find an answer for. Move to the next question and get back to that question if you have any time left at the end.
  • Read all the questions and underline the keywords before reading each text.

Tips for the IELTS listening test:

  • Skim the questions before listening to the recordings.
  • Make sure that you can write the dates in the correct format.
  • If you have any problem hearing the recordings, raise your hand and ask for help.
  • Practice on both British and American pronunciations, as some numbers and words are pronounced differently.

Are you ready to take the IELTS test?

Take our free IELTS quiz to find out how prepared you are.

Take the Quiz

Last update: 17 Oct 2019

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