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IELTS Preparation Tips

Written by  Piyush Bhartiya

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read

IELTS Preparation Tips

Written by  Piyush Bhartiya

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read


The International English Language Testing System, (IELTS) is a standardized test to assess English language proficiency for secondary or tertiary-level education. It is acknowledged by the majority of universities, professional registration bodies and organizations throughout the globe. The test examines the reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in the English language. It is conducted by the British Council and IDP Education Ltd.

The test is available in the form of two modules-Academic Module and the General Training Module. The Academic Module test is taken by students willing to complete higher education in an English-speaking country. The General Training Module, on the other hand, is taken by applicants who are inclined towards working or training at the workplace or by people who simply migrate to an English-speaking country. 

The mode of the examination is Computer and paper-delivered. The time duration of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes which is distributed as Listening: 30 minutes; Reading: 60 minutes; Writing: 60 minutes; Speaking: 11–14 minutes. IELTS uses a Band Scale for scoring purposes. The scale ranges from 0 (“non-user” or “did not attempt the test”) to 9(“expert user”). 

  • IELTS is a structured English test for study, migration or work.
  • IELTS facilitates people to start their professional journey or study abroad.
  • IELTS also evaluates the communication skills required.
  • IELTS uses a nine-band scale for assessment.
  • IELTS ensures quality with absolute fairness.


Several online courses are present in abundance for IELTS preparation online. They comprise study materials, practice tests, mocks, and other supporting tools to ease your online preparation for IELTS. Come out of these courses also help you bolster specifically those areas or sections where you need more grip and understanding. There are also multiple apps in the Play store to facilitate your preparation and get you closer to your desired goal. These will help you to comprehend the test format and types of questions in a better way. You will learn approaches and strategies through these online training sessions. You will feel prepared, your fluency skills will enhance with improvised grammar and vocabulary skills. 


The foremost step to start your preparation journey online should be getting yourself familiarised about all the major details of the test. You can opt for courses as per your convenience; some of which also provide free demo classes so that you are satisfied with the course and then invest your money or time in it. Enroll yourself in online courses that can get you personalized feedback on your progress or a study plan. These courses also provide model answers for all the questions. Going through them will also get you near to your goal. Also, keep in mind the tips and strategies you learn through experts as your course progresses. Listed below are some of the most popular online courses for IELTS preparation online:

  • Bright Learning’s IELTS Preparation Course
  • Magoosh IELTS Preparation Course
  • FutureLearn 
  • IELTS Online Course British Council
  • IELTS Band 7 Complete Prep Course (Udemy)
  • IELTS Online Preparation Courses (Kaplan)
  • IELTS Academic Test Preparation Course (edX)


While many would question the necessity of books for preparation of exams, they do play an important role. Detailed chapter-wise problems divided into levels of difficulty and the four major sections of the exam will only help you smoothen your preparation. You can work more on your weaker areas by means of books. Marking important questions and revising them when needed will be a cake-walk with books. Some of these books include:

  • Cambridge IELTS Books 1–14
  • Official IELTS Practice Materials Volume 1 and 2
  • The ultimate guide to IELTS- Parthesh Thakkar
  • Six practice for the IELTS- Kaplan


A plethora of books are present for IELTS preparation online and offline as well. Some of the books can bring major clarity of the subject to you. Some are suited for the Academic domain and some for the General Training module. You can choose books which best suit your purpose. Following is a list of books which can definitely provide the requisite practice and are considered among the best in this domain:

  • Official Cambridge guide to IELTS
  • Barron's IELTS Superpack. 
  • Road to IELTS
  • Cambridge IELTS 13 Academic Student's Book


For achieving high scores in an IELTS, proper preparation is the key. This preparation comes from the right and adequate amount of study materials. These resources should cover all the aspects of the test boosting up your preparation for a great performance on the day of the test. This can be achieved with standard books and practice papers. Some of these study materials include:

  • Ideas for IELTS Essay Topics
  • Grammar for IELTS Writing Task 2
  • IELTS Official Practice Materials
  • IELTS Trainer


The easiest way to start your preparation journey for IELTS is nothing but to start at home. You can improve your language skills sitting right at the comfort of your home. Organizing your time and setting goals is the foundation of your preparation. The best advantage of preparing from home is that you can distribute your targets and goals as per your convenience. Keeping a check and tracking your own progress can be comfortably done from home.


Preparing from home for IELTS requires planning and its effective execution. Planning an outline for your study schedule is important. The best books and study materials needed to prepare for IELTS at home are easily accessible online. The official British Council and IDP provide their very own official study materials and online preparation guides. If you take the route of preparation from your home, e-learning and online practice assessment plays a major role.


Different people have different ways of preparation for IELTS at home. But, there are few things which are common to their learning process. The majority of the people who have excelled in this test must have inculcated some basic things. These must be followed by every aspirant:

  • Research and study about the course and details associated with it.
  • Get yourself acquainted with the test pattern. 
  • Analyse past year question papers to know where you stand.
  • You cannot master all the concepts overnight. Practice and regular practice is what it takes to ultimately reach there. 
  • Develop a habit of reading on a regular basis. 
  • Sharpen up your skills by taking mock tests 
  • Always analyse your performance and scores in these mock tests. 
  • Work on all the aspects of the test - Pronunciation, Grammar, Vocabulary, Fluency, Accents, etc. 
  • Develop your own strategies for solving problems as you progress. 
  • Always motivate yourself towards the target you have set for yourself.


A lot of things should be taken care of while you are preparing for IELTS. The test has four components. You must work diligently and focus on each section individually. Each section demands a different approach for their preparation. Solving past year papers can never go wrong for preparation of any exam. IELTS is no exception. Confidence, Time-management, Accuracy should be your focus throughout the journey.


Every achiever has their own “success mantra”. Though, the basics and fundamentals behind these mantras remain the same. Following are the 10 best preparation tips for IELTS:

  • Time management is very crucial for your preparation. 
  • Your study plan should include all the aspects of the test 
  • Update yourself with the structure of the test. 
  • Use English language as a mode of communication whenever possible. 
  • Complete as many as Practice and Mock papers before the actual exam. 
  • Start writing. The more you write, the better you get. (Blogs, essays, articles, etc.) 
  • Reading English newspapers and watching English news channels should be inculcated as a regular habit. 
  • Solve the question papers in a timed-environment.
  • Getting familiar with various kinds of English accents can help in the Listening Section of the test.
  • Do not study every now and then. Break your study cycle with some amount of creation or physical activity.


You can start your IELTS preparation by easing yourself with the structure of the test. Get answers to all the doubts and questions raised in your mind. The next step could be solving sample test problems. You can get a fair idea of how to prepare further with this step. If you feel like you need external assistance, get yourself registered for some of the preparatory courses. Work on all the aspects of the test, identify your strengths and weaknesses and then proceed accordingly.


The first step before you embark on your preparation journey of IELTS is to decide which out of the two modules are you attempting for-Academic or General Training module. Next, you must have a deep understanding about the structure and format of the test. You must set practical goals for yourself. Try to analyse the marking scheme and understand the different types of questions. Improve your vocabulary and take practice tests regularly. If possible, get your speaking and writing assessed by someone expert in this field.


In this section of the test, you are needed to accomplish two writing tasks. You are given 20 minutes and 40 minutes for completion of first and second tasks respectively. Minimising you grammatical errors with a rich vocabulary can help you to get through this section. Making an outline or the basic structure of the essay will give you a fair idea of how to proceed without getting stuck anywhere in between. Try to be to the point and never deviate from the topic. Be cautious of the word limit assigned. Your focus should be the language and never the length of the essay.  Avoid informal ways of writing and abbreviations.


Speaking tests your pronunciation, vocabulary, communication skills out of which pronunciation   accounts for one-fourth of your score in this section.  Focus more on the content rather than the quantity. A 3-4 lines long answer would be sufficient for the questions asked in the interview. Again, do not stray from the original topic. Practice speaking English on a regular basis, and it will help you to clear this section. Conversing with native-level speakers of English can help you a lot. If you have an opportunity like this, go ahead and also take a note of their fair opinion on your pronunciation. You can also record yourself while practising. While hearing it back, you can understand your shortcomings which can help you to improvise gradually.


To excel in the reading section, you must develop the habit of reading on a regular basis. Reading books, novels, newspapers and magazines helps a lot. Skimming and scanning strategies are important for this section. Read the questions and instructions thoroughly and mark the keywords while reading. Keep a track of your timing. Practice reading IELTS material and past year questions contributes a lot. Another important thing which should be kept in mind while dealing with this section is do not try to understand each and every word of the entire passage. Focus on lines around which the question revolves.


The Listening section checks how attentive you are and assesses your grasping skills. An audio is played and you need to focus on keywords. The answers to the subsequent questions are to be found from the audio only, hence your listening skills are put to test. While listening, write down the answers on the test paper and then on the answer sheet if you are taking the paper-based test. Check for spelling and grammatical errors before submitting.


Difficulty of IELTS is quite subjective. What may be difficult for someone, may be a walkover for some. It depends from person to person owing to diverse personality traits, learning fashion, educational background, etc. But, that does not mean the exam is not challenging. Because of this, at times people may find taking this examination difficult. Nevertheless, with a structured and organised schedule,   you can complete your preparation for this exam smoothly.

The different sections of the test throw different challenges which might be the cause of their difficulties. For instance, people whose speaking involves recurring similar points again and again may face a problem. For some, limiting yourself to the word count might be a huge challenge. Some may misunderstand the question while reading or listening. Problems like these elevate the difficulty level of this test. But if you are aware of your own weaknesses, you can narrow your focus on those domains and get yourself in a much better condition than before.


Some of the handy tips to prepare for your IELTS test are:

  • Read about the rules and regulations about the test, test format and plan accordingly.
  • Practice an adequate amount of time-based mocks.
  • Keep an eye on your punctuation and spellings.
  • Always adhere to the word limit.
  • Read the directions carefully.


The IELTS Support Tools delivers an outline of the IELTS exam and guidance to help you prepare. IDP makes it easy to prepare for IELTS with the support tools. Following are some of the support tools provided:

  • IELTS Masterclass
  • IELTS Master (Free)
  • IDP IELTS Facebook page and YouTube Channel


Q1) How much preparation is required for IELTS?

  • It totally depends upon the person. Different people stand at different levels at the start of their preparation although the end goal may be the same for them. It is also possible that the final goal varies from person to person. For someone, a band score of 7 might be the target and for someone else, a band score of 9. Because of all these factors, the preparation duration is variegated. This time can vary from 1 to 6 months or even a couple of weeks for experts.

Q2) How to Get IELTS Band 7?

  • Scoring nearly 30 out of 40 questions correctly in Listening and Reading sections can get you an IELTS Band 7. For the Speaking section, you need to have a command over fluency and speak at length for the answer. You must answer both the questions completely in the Writing section for getting a band score of seven.

Q3) Which is the toughest section in IELTS?

  • It is entirely subjective and person-dependent. Although, many find the Listening Section quite tough over other sections. But that is because of less practice in this field over other sections.

Q4) How many times can I take IELTS?

  • As such, there is no limit set by the conducting body of the IELTS exam. You can take it as many times as you want provided you pay the fees for it.

Q5) Can I get my IELTS test remarked?

  • Yes, you can get your IELTS test remarked. There is a fixed amount you need to pay for remarking of your answer scripts. If your score changes, this money is refunded. A different examiner is assigned for remarking. You can either get your entire test remarked or just a certain section.

About the Author & Expert


Piyush Bhartiya

author • MBA • 2 years

Piyush values education and has studied from the top institutes of IIT Roorkee, IIM Bangalore, KTH Sweden and Tsinghua University in China. Post completing his MBA, he has worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group and focused on building sales and marketing vertical for top MNCs and Indian business houses.