The IELTS test can be taken up to 48 times a year. If you take a test and do not perform well, you can retake it without any delay or limit on retakes. An IELTS result will be presented in 9 different scores from ‘band 0’ – ‘no show’ to ‘band 9’ ‘native speaker level’. IELTS 7.0 is the ultimate goal for the majority of international students. To get selected for your dream university abroad, score well on the test. A score of IELTS 7.0 or 7.5 is evidence that your English is good enough to join any university across the globe, even elite Ivy League institutions. – follow the tips to make sure you score high. Where to start? First of all, do not get overwhelmed by the amount of available information. 3 million people wouldn’t take it on an annual basis if it was impossible. Passing IELTS is not only about how good your English language is but also how attentive you are while reading the tasks (often the formulation is confusing on purpose) and how fast you are in prioritizing your allocated time during the exam. Before anything else, you need to get yourself familiarized with the test structure and the answer sheet patterns.
Read the structure of the test (above) and learn it You need to be fully aware of what is coming your way in terms of timing, types of tasks, breaks, expectations. Understand different question types.
Define your learning strategy
Do you learn on your own? You can easily find IELTS mock tests, IELTS tests from previous years. Check for free courses online or purchase the IELTS test study materials. Do you prefer to learn with a tutor or in a group? Check for the nearest IELTS testing center in your town. There is a myriad of offline and online IELTS classes held individually with a teacher or in groups.
Set realistic goals but aim a bit higher! It is not necessary that you score well for the first time, but you can become better next time. Practice makes perfect. Make mistakes. Understand the reasons for making mistakes to prevent yourself from doing them repeatedly.
Practice every day Structure your studies according to sections, prioritize your time. Plan and organize yourself for 45 min concentration on studies and 15 min on breaks. Put all the distracting devices aside and turn yourself off from social media. Do not disregard any module. Dedicate as much time for listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is highly advisable to focus on the Writing and Reading modules a bit more because they consequently will contribute to the other modules’ improvement. When you take IELTS sample tests, you will get to understand how much you have learned and at what level you are currently at. Practice multitasking, i.e., listening to the tape, reading the questions, and writing down notes for you to be able to formulate the answers afterwards.
Read in the English language Do not know how to read diagonally? You will be able to do that sooner than you think. What to read? Journals, articles, and newspapers. Make sure to be informed of current events and issues. Once you feel comfortable going through a daily newspaper, consider yourself ready. This, consequently, will improve your vocabulary and grammar. Improve vocabulary to use synonyms. Familiarize yourself with them. Repeating words and using simple phrases will get you no extra points and in fact, could only bring you a negative score. Memorize 15 best practice words, phrases, and connecting words and keep them always ready in your head for every situation. This will help you in all the modules of the test. Improve your reading speed. When practicing the reading module at home, set yourself a timer. Do not be optimistic about the time, it runs faster during the exam. Excel in reading first, then you will automatically score higher in the IELTS writing exam. The more you understand, the more you can eventually articulate.
Speak English at least 30 mins per day out loud Record yourself and listen to your own voice. If necessary, record yourself on video – the camera doesn’t lie. While listening to this record, you will hear your own pronunciation errors and mistakes. Use this knowledge to improve. If you can, find a native speaker around you to practice. There are a lot of tandem options and applications existing online to find a language partner (to teach you English while you are teaching your native language in exchange) free of charge as well.
Listen to podcasts & watch TV shows There are plenty of great tv shows, like F.R.I.E.N.D.S in the original version with the English subtitles. Master it until you no longer need the subtitles. Once you can watch movies without subtitles, consider yourself ready.
Play video games that involve active conversations with your team members in English Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft, DotA! Switch to the American servers for your own good! It is a sacrifice you make for the IELTS.
Learn the exam approach In all parts, it is highly recommended to skim through the whole text/exercise first and to highlight the words, which you believe the emphasis will be. This will help you navigate towards the question-answer later and subconsciously divide the text into parts. Use question keywords to find the answer. Write an outline for the written answers – and follow it every time. Structured writing gets more points on the written part.
Be attentive and read questions twice It is a common practice that an answer can be hidden in the question itself. Read instructions carefully and always look at the example. Do not disregard the sample questions and answers.
Answer exactly what is required Not more, not less. Do not go off-topic, do not go over the limit. 2 or 3 points for your reasoning is just fine. Do not overdo it. Give just one answer, unless you are specifically requested to give multiple options.
Filter out irrelevant noise IELTS is about finding relevant answers in the big data volume. The tasks will be long and daunting, but do not let that confuse you – your task is to find the answers to those questions and that’s the only motivation you should have.
Practice transferring answers from the answer sheet to the ‘original’ This also requires time and efficiency in utilizing space.
Recheck your answers if you have spare time We are all humans and might overlook something. Make logical guesses when unsure. Do not leave things blank. Check your grammar, spelling, and handwriting. If your writing will be confusing it will be marked wrong by default. Your answer may be marked wrong if the structure of your answer is not grammatically correct as well. Less is more! If unsure, use short but precise answers.
Consider the IELTS test as a job interview Sleep well before the test, arrive early enough and put on your best smile and attire.
If you can, take a seat in the first three rows in the listening test Experience shows those rows have the best audio access. Listen carefully. If you miss out on something, drop it and continue with future tasks.
Do not be nervous Keep yourself cool and calm. Get yourself water and chocolate (outside of the classroom). Try to maintain normal fluency. If you score well – great. If you don’t – great. Time to rehearse and learn, it is not the end of the world and IELTS has no retake limit.
Be yourself The more relaxed you are, the more appealing and comfortable the conversation with the IELTS instructor will be.
You will often hear false advice about IELTS. Don’t listen! Myths about the difficulty of the test are not true. Instead, prepare for the test, improve your English, and follow the tips given here. Successfully passing the test will minimize your visa risk as well as the risk of not being understood abroad.