IELTS Preparation: All You Need to Know About IELTS

Are you someone who wish to study abroad? Then it is very important for you to know about IELTS. You might have already come across word ‘IELTS’ if you have searched on selection criteria of colleges abroad. Because IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the most popular English Language Test for higher education and has been accepted by over 10,000 organizations around the world. It has two test forms: IELTS academic (for those who want to study abroad) & IELTS general ( for immigration purposes).

In this post, we will be focusing mainly on the academic IELTS test.

What is IELTS and how to prepare for it?

IELTS test is divided into four sections: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. In the IELTS score, the student will be graded using 9 BAND scales. BAND 9 is given for an Expert User of English Language. In IELTS, students are given real-life situations to test whether a candidate can survive in English speaking academic and social environments.

IELTS Registration

These days, you can do IELTS exam booking easily online through portals like that of the British Council or IDP India. You may register for the exam at INR 12,100. You can select your convenient online test date and center from the given list of dates and centers. Kindly take note that your passport will be the identity document for IELTS registration and on test day.

How to prepare for IELTS?


IELTS academic exam pattern is as given below:

  1.         Listening – 4 Sections; 40 questions, 30 minutes
  2.         Reading – 3 Sections; 40 questions, 3 long texts, 1 hour
  3.         Writing – 2 tasks, 1 hour
  4.         Speaking – 3 sections, 11-14 minutes

To get selected for your dream University abroad, as you need to score well in IELTS exam, we recommend you to prepare well for the exam. You may do the IELTS training or coaching via online or offline IELTS classes. There are many IELTS study materials are available online.

But, before anything else, you need to get familiarized with the test and question patterns. You may get free IELTS practice test, IELTS free books, past IELTS exam papers, etc. online. It is not necessary that you score well for the first time, but you can become better with practicing. When you take IELTS sample tests, you will get to understand how much you have learned and at what level you are currently in. Also, after practicing different questions, you will get familiarized with different types of questions that will be asked in each part.

So, try to attempt as many IELTS mock tests possible and at the same time, you should be well aware of the IELTS syllabus and assessment criteria. If still, you may feel that you need more guidance or help, you may take help of preparation course. These days, there are so many coaching programs available online and offline. But to develop your English language skills, it is necessary to practice. But, it is important to practice in the means of quality and not quantity.

There are some tips that you may follow for your exam:

  1. For your writing exam, prepare a plan on how to write answers. Need to formulate a structure on what all you need to include in an answer.
  2. For IELTS speaking test, try to record yourself while practicing. Listening back this record will help you to find out your mistakes and improve.
  3. In listening and reading tests, you will get to notice the use of many synonyms. So, it is important to familiarize with synonyms.
  4. Do not be in a hurry to pass the exam. Because the systematic study only will help you to learn English better. Examiners can get to know if you are not talking in your language. So, be yourself and prepare well so that you can make examiner to like you.
  5. While practicing, you may be making mistakes. But ensure that you learn from those mistakes so that they will not get repeated in the future.
  6. In sections, except writing, always ensure to read your answers again carefully. This will help you to check if you have made some mistakes in following instructions.
  7. Make sure you get good night’s sleep before the test day and also, try to arrive early at the test center.

How to Prepare for the IELTS listening test?

In the IELTS listening test, the candidate will listen to a recording and answer a series of questions. The recording will be played only ONCE. The test has four sections with 10 questions in each. It will last for about 30 minutes.

Usually it has below given variety of question types:

  1.         multiple choice
  2.         sentence completion
  3.         notes/diagram/flow chart completion
  4.         short answer

Follow these tips to prepare for the IELTS listening tips:

Multitasking You will need to listen for the answer, read the questions and write down words at the same time. So, you need to practice well before for this by taking IELTS listening practice tests online.

Listen to relevant things You will be listening to lots of extra information also. But keep focused on relevant details which will help you to answer the questions.

Writing down your answers Sometimes you will get many answers at a time for the question. So, write down all the answers you get in a paper. You may select the right one afterwards.

Attention In listening test, you need to be focused and attentive on what you are listening to. Because if you don’t listen to some words to sentences, you will not be hearing an answer and will lose one mark.

Transferring your answers to the answer sheet You need to practice transferring your answers to the answer sheet at home. Also, you need to check if you have made any spelling mistakes while transferring answers to answer sheet.

Make use of space available You will not be getting an extra sheet to note down your answers. So, you need to practice how to utilize minimum space for maximum efficiency.

Listen to different accents You will be listening to different accents in the recording. So, better to be prepared with listening to different accents.

You can score well in the IELTS speaking and listening sections if you prepare in the right way. Develop your English language speaking and listening skills by following tips, improving your grammar and vocabulary and practicing sample tests as many as possible. As always the Golden rule is the same- practice is the key to success in any exam. So, plan and prepare well for your IELTS exam.

How to prepare for IELTS Reading section?

There are three sections in the IELTS reading. Sections get increasingly difficult. Sections one and two might have more than one more text.

Section 1: This section is based on one, two or three texts about English life.

Section 2: This section consists of more than one text.

Section 3: The final section is one text which is quite long and the hardest.

Here are some IELTS reading tips for you to score well:

  1. Make your reading smart Ideally, you should be able to get an idea of a passage in 2 to 3 minutes. For this, it is not necessary to read the whole passage. Instead of reading, you need to practice skimming and scanning. For this, you are required to practice with many reading passages and reading samples. Gradually, you will be able to gain speed in reading only relevant information.
  2. Words, Words, Words Are you familiar with many words? How do you learn a new word? Learning only the meaning of the word? This is where your vocabulary building goes wrong! Because when you learn vocabulary, you need to understand where you can, and you can’t use a word. It is always better to improve your vocabulary by reading many passages
  3. Find Keywords Each question will be having some clues in keywords which will help you to locate an answer from passage. So, practice spotting keywords from passages. Some can be spotted very easily whereas other will be subtle. Sometimes, you may not be able to find keywords as it is in the passage and questions. So, it is required for you to learn synonyms when you learn a word.
  4. Don’t neglect Grammar Grammar is important for all sections. In the reading section, knowing grammar will help you to solve summary completion and sentence completion questions
  5. Time Management Like every other exam, IELTS has a strict time limit which is a challenge. So, speed reading is necessary for you to understand questions well and answer all questions in time.
  6. Familiarize with all types of questions In IELTS reading section, you may expect around 14 types of questions. It is important to know how to tackle each of them. It will help you to save time and give the right answers.
  7. Don’t run away from Difficult passages Sometimes, when you read the BBC news or The Economist or The Hindu, you may come across difficult passages and usually tend to avoid them. But it is important to widen your reading skills for IELTS to get a good score. So, try to read complicated passages in a range of topics. Else, you will get tensed on the day of the exam, if you get difficult passages.
  8. Plan and Prepare Above, I have given many tips and you may be confused about which one to follow. But it is important to you need to plan well to improve all factors, not only one. Like, you need to develop vocabulary, practice types of questions, develop speed in identifying answers within the passage, do reading practice test under exam conditions and non-exam conditions. You need to do all these things in parallel so that you will not gain the necessary skills.
  9. Understand your weakness When you start practicing, you need to analyze where you are making mistakes and how you can improve. Because, after reviewing you will be able to understand the areas you need to put more effort on. Else, your preparation may not seem effective as you tend to make the same mistake again and again.

How to prepare for IELTS Writing section?

In IELTS writing task 1, the candidate will be asked to describe a pictorial form in his or her own words. The pictorial form could be a bar chart, a table, a line graph or a picture depicting a process. A combination of these input forms could also be given. Before writing your answer, the candidate is required to understand what is given and structure it well in a way that all important points of pictorial form is covered in the same. Candidate needs to write a minimum of 150 words.

In IELTS writing task 2, the candidate will be asked to write an essay on a general academic topic. Candidate needs to write a minimum of 250 words. During the exam, always take care to write quality content which has no repetitive content. Also, there are other parameters on which you will be marked. This post will be detailing on how your answer will be evaluated, what is the right approach to answer a task to question and tips that may help you to score well in this section. Kindly take note of these points while practicing and during the exam. This will help you to score well in this section of the IELTS exam.

What are the tips to Prepare for IELTS Writing Section? 

  1. Practice all types of questions:

    There are 6 different types of pictorial forms that will be given in writing task 1. So, it is important to be familiar with the answer structure of each form so that you will not face any difficulty during the exam.

  2. Identify key features:

    Most charts will have its highest and lowest categories as its key features. It is an essential part of your paragraph. So, it is necessary to identify keywords in the pictorial form given.

  3. The range of Words:

    For better paraphrasing of your answer, vocabulary can help you. So, try to use the biggest range of possible vocabulary. But, you should be careful with the usage of words, as you may lose a mark for making mistake. Also, spelling needs to be checked.

  4. Grammar:

    To aim for more than band score of 6, you need to familiarize with complex sentence structures. So, making grammar accuracy in the sentences you write is important. Else you will be losing marks. Hence, try to spend more time learning grammar so that you can get more accuracy in writing answers.

  5. Comparing of Data:

    As you are given data, it is not required to compare everything. Only compare if it is required. This will help you to save time and make your answer apt to the question.

  6. Small Details:

    Try to avoid describing small details in detail. It will make paragraph unnecessarily lengthy and will not be impressive to the examiner.

  7. Conclusion

    You are not required to write a conclusion for the answer. So, avoid wherever possible.

  8. Noun and Adjective

    Try to change the noun and adjective phrases to verbs and adverbs. This will help you to express the same thing in different ways.

  9. Units:

    Need to be checked. It is always important to represent data in their accurate units. So, from the chart or pictorial given, take note of units present in it. If you misrepresent data with wrong units, it will leave a bad impression on the examiner.

How to prepare for IELTS Speaking section?

The IELTS speaking test is recorded and conducted with one examiner. The test has been divided into 3 sections.

Section 1 (4-5 minutes)

  1. In section 1, the candidate will be asked some general introductory questions.
  2. It will be similar to the type of questions when meeting someone for the first time.
  3. After general introductory questions, the examiner will ask questions on personal information.
  4. Finally, the examiner will ask some questions on 2 topics of general interest.

Section 2 (3-4 minutes)

  1. Section 2 involves speaking only by the candidate.
  2. The examiner will give the candidate a subject on a card and also, will give some questions on it.
  3. The candidate needs to talk for 1 to 2 minutes on this subject.
  4. Candidate will be given optional 1 minute to prepare for this talk.
  5. After the talk, the examiner will ask 1 or 2 brief questions and finish off the section.

Section 3 (4-5 minutes)

  1. In section 3, the examiner will ask the candidate more questions related to the subject spoken about in section 2.
  2. These questions will demand some critical analysis on the part of the candidate.

What are the IELTS speaking tips?

  Practice, Practice, Practice Like the saying, ‘practice makes a man perfect’, it is necessary for you to practice well for IELTS speaking test. You need to be prepared with common questions, common topics, favorite things, how to greet the examiner or how to ask questions to examiner etc.  To get to know all these, you need to practice speaking tests and review it after recording. IELTS speaking practice tests are available online and make the most use of them.

Simple Ideas with Excellent English When you are answering, they are not testing your ideas or knowledge. So while answering, try to be confident and showcase your language skills

 Speak and don’t be shy Don’t hesitate to talk as not talking will do more harm than talking something.

 Learn to express in your own words and language Talking in your own words can help you to express your answers better.

 Know the marking You will be marked on fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Each one carries 25% weightage. So, while preparing you to need to focus on each of these to score well. You may correct your mistakes if you have made any. But ensure that it will not affect the fluency of your speaking.

IELTS exam results

After giving the IELTS test, you can expect your result 13 days after. When you apply to institutions abroad, they may need original copies of your Test Report Form(TRF). So, ensure to keep your Test Report Form(TRF) safely. Usually, institutions do not accept a Test Report Form that is more than two years old.

When you have listed your choices of universities to study abroad, you need to understand the IELTS score required for those universities. Parallel with other requirements for getting admission, you need to study well for the exam and get the required band. IELTS is also as important as other requirements. So, plan and prepare well for your IELTS exam.



Take a free IELTS Mock Test to assess your preparation

Kindly do post if you have any feedback, comment or suggestions.

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I am a study abroad content expert, associated with the study abroad industry since years. I am a firm believer that study abroad is once a lifetime experience and everyone should get a chance of having this experience.

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