IELTS Preparation

IELTS Preparation, the tricks and tips you need to pass.

If you are planning on taking the IELTS exam, there are plenty of tricks and tips that can help you achieve your goals.  In this article I will provide a brief overview with a few tips and tricks for each section.

IELTS™ is:

  • The International English Language Testing System
  • A paper-based test
  • A writing test that you write by hand
  • A speaking test that involves speaking face to face with an examiner
  • A test for General English or Academic English
  • Less academically-oriented than TOEFL®
  • Less Science-oriented than TOEFL®
  • More Internationally-oriented than TOEFL®

IELTS is not:

  • A multi-choice test
  • A grammar test
  • Easier than TOEFL®

How to prepare

Do take a preparation course that offers a free diagnostic test to assess your level and your needs and has trainers who have had special training by an accredited institution. A course that does not follow a diagnostic, needs-tested syllabus will waste your time and an untrained English teacher will not be able to offer the necessary guidance.

Do lots of homework and practice in your own time.

Don’t book your test until you have taken a preparation course. There are plenty of tests and plenty of test centers.

Don’t take a preparation course until your General English level is at least upper Intermediate.

How not to prepare

Only study English twice a week.

Tips and tricks for the reading test

You don’t have much time so don’t read all of the reading passage in detail.

Read the instructions for each set of questions carefully as there are several different types of question, each with different rules.

Read each passage quickly to get a general impression first then read the questions and locate the answers in the text.

Tips and tricks for the writing test

Use a formal style for the academic writing tasks; don’t use conversational language, slang or contractions.

Don’t offer any opinion or explanation for the data or diagram in part one. You should only describe it.

Always write in paragraphs.

Don’t copy any phrases or sentences from the question; use synonyms and paraphrases

Count the words you have written.

If the question asks you to discuss two opinions/positions, try do write an equal amount about each position.

If the question just asks whether you agree or disagree with something, you don’t need to discuss both positions but you do need to support your choice.

When the question asks you to support your position/opinion with reasons or examples, the plural “s” means you must give more than one reason/example to get a good score.

Tips and tricks for the speaking test

Don’t be late! Your examiner will not appreciate any change to the scheduled times.

Practice talking about your home, your family, your work/studies, your hobbies, your favorite things etc for part one but don’t be surprised if the examiner asks you about something unusual such as “looking at the stars.”

Give short answers in part one (one or two sentences are enough) but don’t just say yes or no.

Don’t try to memorize speeches.

Practice speaking for TWO minutes for part two. The examiner will expect you to use all of the time available.

In part three, don’t talk about your personal experience. Talk about other people or people in general.

If you can’t think of the right word, use other words to explain what you mean. Don’t stop speaking!

Be brave. Part three is the time to “take chances” with your language.

Tips and tricks for the listening test

Look at the first set of questions as the instructions are playing.

Read each set of the questions carefully because there are several different question types with different rules.

You will usually hear the answers in the same order as the questions.

The more difficult passages and questions are usually the last ones.

Did you know?

Most test providers require you to complete all four parts of the test on the same day.

The general training test is only different for the reading and writing tests, but these parts are easier than for the academic test so you might need a higher overall score for immigration purposes if you take the general training test.

IELTS is accepted my many but not all American universities.

Qualified trainers are not allowed to give predicted band scores, only feedback and advice on how to achieve your target.

The bands given in a real test do not have a fixed relationship to percentage and practice tests cannot give a definite predicted band. This is because the bands are fixed after the test results are collected to allow statistical smoothing and standardization of the results.

The speaking test is graded only by the examiner who speaks to you during the test and is graded during the test, not after it. So your band score depends very much on the impression you create in real time. This means that your manner and non-verbal communication are important.


If you are planning to take the IELTS and you have any questions please feel to contact me via e-mail

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