IELTS Preparation Tips: The Ultimate Guide

IELTS preparation needs a thorough comprehension of the format of the test and the scoring method. Cracking IELTS with a high band score is a lot about “smart work” and “strategy” in addition to “hard work”. You must work on improving your English, practice a lot, and take professional help, if needed.

Let’s first get to the basics.

How to Book a Date for IELTS Examination

Once you are ready to appear in the test, you can book a date for IELTS examination by logging in to IDP (International Development Program) website or British Council.

Most of the cities have an IELTS test center, so you can book the test according to your convenience and the location best suited for you.

You can either take the computer-based test or the paper-based one.

Note: Do not book the test before you are ready. Unless you are ready, you will lack confidence and that might affect your band score. Nervousness is a major contributing factor to low band scores.

IDP Versus British Council IELTS Examination

Long story short, there is absolutely no difference between IDP and British Council IELTS examination.

Many myths prevail regarding this aspect.

  • Some people say IDP marks more generously than British Council.
  • Others say the people examining the papers are different.
  • Recently, someone told me that you need to register with British Council if you are planning to go to the U.S. and U.K, while IDP is for Australia.

All these three statements are utterly rubbish. They are simply misconceptions floating around.

Debunking the Myths

IDP and British Council, in addition to Cambridge English Language Assessment, work as the joint owners of IELTS examination. While Cambridge English Language Assessment is responsible for compiling the test, IDP and British Council organize it.

IDP is an educational organization that deals with placement of students in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA.

The British Council works toward promotion of English language. It is an official test center for IELTS where the candidates can book the test dates.

If you are based in India, the IDP has more centers when compared to the British Council. It also has more slots for computer-delivered tests.

No matter which organization you choose, make sure the location is not too far away from your residence. You must be able to make it to the center on time without rushing too much.

The examination fee is also the same for both IDP and British Council.

To sum it up, your band score depends on the level of your English and not on which organization you take the test from. If your English is at par, you will score well in the IELTS examination.

Do not believe any wrong beliefs shared by your peers.

Computer Delivered IELTS Versus Paper Based IELTS Test

Computer delivered test and paper based test are the same, as far as the questions and scoring system are concerned. The only significant difference is that in the computer based test, you have to type the answers on the computer while in the paper based test, you have to write them on the answer sheet provided to you.

If you are comfortable with typing, you can take the computer-based test. However, if you are not sure of your typing speed, it is advisable to take the paper-based examination.

Now, let’s understand individual differences between the four sections of IELTS format.

Speaking test

It remains the same whether you take the computer delivered test or the paper based test. You will have a face-to-face interview with the examiner.

Reading test

In the computer based reading test, you will be able to read the passage on the left-hand side of the screen and questions on the right. This facilitates better readability and answer easily.

Unlike paper based test, you will be able to increase the font size of the passage and even highlight the test, as and when required. Simply right click and select the option “highlight”.

What makes computer based reading test more convenient is that you can use CTRL+C and CTRL+V functionality to copy and paste the answers. As a result, you are less likely to make typing errors. However, you will not be able to use the search function, that is, CTRL+F to find words.

Recommendation: You must practice how to scroll through multiple pages and reading long articles on your computer. It will help you navigate the passages easily in the computer based reading exam.

Writing Section

Even in the computer based test, you will get a pen and paper that can be used to plan the essay.

While in paper based writing test, you will have to count the words for both the tasks, computer based test will let you know the word count. This will save the time taken to count the words.

In the computer based writing test, you can easily edit the content, if required. Cut, copy, and paste functionality comes in handy here.

Like I said earlier, your typing speed has to be up to the mark, especially for the writing task as it requires you to write around 450 words in 60 minutes.

Make sure that you do not make any typing mistakes. The probability of overlooking spelling mistakes increases considerably while typing on the computer and often, you are not able to detect those mistakes when you proofread.

Many people worry about the keyboard noise in the writing test. That is not the case. Usually, the test centers have a noiseless keyboard so that the test takers can focus on their test without getting disturbed.

Listening Section

You must be good at multitasking because you must type the answer directly on the computer. You will be provided with a pen and paper, but it is advisable that you type the answer directly because you will get only 2 minutes to check the answers. In paper based listening test, you get 10 minutes to transfer the answers, but that is not the case with computer based listening test.

You will be able to highlight the text.

In the computer based listening test, you might have to type an answer or drag words from one place to another. Additionally, you might even have to select boxes. Make sure you get accustomed to all these different types of questions.

Points to Remember for Computer Based Test

The screen will get locked when the time limit ends. You will not be able to make any changes after that.

Note that you will not be able to see the seconds in the timer when there is just one minute to go for the test to end. Make sure you are done with the test before the screen gets locked.

You must practice all the sections and take mock tests so that nothing comes as a surprise on the actual test date.

If you are looking for prompt results, you can appear in the computer based test.

Less number of people appear in the computer based test so it is not so crowded and generally, there are several slots available.

Now, the next question is that which module should you appear in?

Should you appear in the academic module or the general training of IELTS?

Difference Between Academic and General Module of IELTS

Academic module is best suited for students who wish to go to Canada, Australia, or European countries to study in a foreign university. If you are planning to apply for student visa, go for academic IELTS examination.

General module, on the other hand, is for people who wish to apply for Permanent Residence (PR) in Canada or Australia.

As far as the format of the test is concerned, the academic IELTS examination and general module have different reading and writing sections. The speaking and listening test remains the same for both modules.

Talking about the difficulty level, academic IELTS is somewhat more difficult than the general IELTS examination. While writing tasks in general training focus more on routine conversations and informal occurrences, academic training tasks are related to things that would help the test taker in their university life.

For instance: In writing task 1 of the general module, you will be asked to write a letter which can be informal or formal in tone. Contrarily, in the academic writing task 1, you will have to explain a graph, pie chart, or a diagram.

In writing task 2 of the general module, the essay is more about generic issues like environmental pollution and the pros and cons of eating outside. Academic writing task 2 is usually a formal essay.

What is the Registration Fee for IELTS Examination?

From April 2020, the IELTS examination fee is revised to INR 14000 from INR 13250.

Eligibility Criteria for IELTS Examination

According to the British Council and IDP, here are the eligibility criteria for IELTS examination:

a. Age limit

The minimum age required to appear in the IELTS examination is 17 years if you are applying for undergraduation.

Bear in mind that the age limit is different for every university. Therefore, every candidate must go through the university eligibility criteria before booking the IELTS date.

The official website of the university or their brochure is the best bet to check for this. Do not depend on any consultancy firm or agency for this.

b. Educational Qualification

The candidate must have cleared Class 12 or its equivalent to be eligible for IELTS examination. Such candidates can appear in the IELTS academic test and submit their application for undergraduation courses.

For candidates wanting to apply in postgraduate courses, undergraduate degree is a must. They will have to take the academic test of IELTS.

Generic criteria

You must have a valid passport if you want to appear in IELTS examination.

IDP or British Council will not be responsible in case you appear in the examination but do not fit in the eligibility criteria set by different universities.

Format of the IELTS Test

The IELTS test comprises of four different sections, namely reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Reading test

Number of questions: 40

Time limit: 60 minutes

Marking scheme: 1 mark for each correct answer

IELTS reading test assesses you for skimming, understanding the attitude of the author, comprehending the main ideas, and identifying the purpose.

Since you have to read lengthy paragraphs and answer 40 questions in 60 minutes, you must practice reading, skimming, and scanning through long passages and try to understand what the author is trying to say.

In the academic test, the paragraphs are from books, magazines, newspapers, and journals. The texts can either be analytical, factual, descriptive, or discursive.

General traning on the other hand will have paragraphs from resources that you come across in your routine life. They can be from books, magazines, company handbooks, guidelines, advertisements, newspapers, and notices.

Listening Test

Number of questions: 40

Time limit: 30 minutes, 10 minutes to transfer the questions

Marking scheme: 1 mark for each correct answer

The listening test in IELTS examination includes four parts (previously known as sections). In the first part, the test taker will be able to hear an informal conversation between two people. It will be like a dialogue we hear in our everyday life.

In the second part, there will be a monologue pertaining to some routine situation. The speaker might be explaining something about a building or the directions to a place, for example.

The third part is a conversation between three or four people. It is generally related to education, wherein the students are discussing something with their professor or they are in conversation with each other to talk about their presentation or thesis. You will be able to hear three or four distinct voices, so make sure you listen carefully.

The fourth part is an academic monologue in which the test taker will be able to hear something related to a normal process that happens in the environment.

Writing Test

Number of tasks to be done: 2

Time limit: 60 minutes

Academic writing test:

Task 1: Describe a diagram depicting some process, bar graph, pie chart, or line chart.

Task 2: Formal essay that requires the candidate to respond to a problem or express his or her opinion about something.

General writing test

Task 1: An informal or formal letter

Task 2: An informal essay in which the test taker has to respond to a point of view, argument, or problem

Speaking Test

Number of parts: 3

Time duration: 11 to 14 minutes

Speaking test in IELTS is like an oral test or interview. In the first part, you will be asked to introduce yourself.

After the first part is over, you will be given a cue card for the second part. You will get 60 seconds to prepare for the response. Make sure you simply jot down the important points and not word by word what you are going to speak.

The last part will be a discussion around your response shared in Part 2.

Registration of IELTS Exam

Go to the official website of IDP or British Council.

Next, click on the tab ‘Register for the Test’.

After that, you will asked the preference of the test, whether you want to appear in the paper based IELTS test or computer delivered examination.

Subsequently, you must select the test type or module – academic or general training. Make sure you determine this carefully.

In the next step, you will be asked to choose the location of the test center or the city from the list.

Then, you will be shown all the available dates from which you can select the date and time slot of your choice.

Fill up all your basic personal details carefully. Your name on the passport and the IELTS examination receipt must be the same.

The last step will be to pay the application fee.

Once all this is done, you will receive an acknowledgement email or text message according to the details provided.

The speaking test is generally conducted one week prior or after the IELTS examination. It is to be taken separately from reading, writing, and listening.

IELTS Results

Generally, the test results will be declared after 13 days of the test day. Once you get the results come out, test takers will get the results as a Test Report Form.

You can also request IELTS organizers IDP and British Council to send the result to the universities in case you are taking the academic test.

Note that if there is any discrepancy in the information provided in the documents, the test results will be canceled.

Downloading IELTS Results

Go to the official website of IDP or British Council, according to the organizer you have taken the test from. Click on ‘Results’ in the notification section. Login by providing the passport number and date of birth. You will be asked to enter the identification document number. Also, add details like candidate number, date of IELTS exam, and date of birth. This will display the IELTS score on the screen.

Wrapping Up

Taking IELTS examination and scoring well in it will pave new avenues for you to move to abroad. So many foreign universities and employment institutions look for people who have aced IELTS examination. Interestingly, it is the only English language test that all countries accept for immigration.

If you are looking for more expert tips and tricks, stay tuned to or drop me an email on

1 thought on “IELTS Preparation Tips: The Ultimate Guide”

  1. Hi Disha, this a very very indepth article on IELTS. So much is involved in passing this difficult test. Never knew. This is an eye-opener for me.
    Loved your Video also. Very good that u did a video on this topic.

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