International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language proficiency test that facilitates global migration for educational, professional, or residential purposes.
If you are looking forward to studying or settling in Australia or Canada, it is a mandate to appear in this examination and score the desired bands (on the basis of specific eligibility criteria).
Let’s start with the modules of the exam:
i. General Training
ii. Academic module
Every module has four distinct sections, namely:
So, how will you “start”?
Let’s get started with IELTS preparation tips that are sure to bring results.
First of all, we’ll talk about the reading section.
IELTS Preparation Tips for Reading
For the reading section, you must practice your speed of reading at the outset. Try to understand a paragraph by scanning and skimming through rather than reading each and every word. The reason for this is that you would not have time to read every sentence in the examination.
You just have 60 minutes for the reading test, so make sure you do not waste too much time on a single question. If you are not sure about the answer, mark it in the question paper and come back to it later.
Secondly, you must try to understand the question properly. Your reading questions might have synonyms from the passage. For example: If the passage has the word “result”, the question might have used the word “consequence”. It is important to know the trick of paraphrasing for the reading section.
For the fill in the blanks section, you must read the question carefully. Read whether they want the answer in a single word, two words, or three words. Write your answer accordingly.
How to Prepare for IELTS Listening Examination
The listening section is a test of how attentive you can be, in addition to English. You must have a sharp presence of mind to answer the listening test. Remember that you won’t hear the passage for the second time, so you must pay complete attention while the audio is being played.
If you have missed out on listening to the answer of one question, MOVE ON. Do not keep thinking about it, otherwise you might miss out on the other answers too.
An important trick to remember is that even if you have failed to listen to the answer, do not leave your answer sheet blank. Take help of guess work or common sense and answer the question. If you are lucky, you might get through.
Pro tip: Write your answers in ALL CAPS.
IELTS Writing Preparation Tips
The writing section is the most challenging, according to me. What makes it difficult is that you have 60 minutes to write around 500 words. You have to think of ideas too in that one hour. This is not easy because of the pressure you feel in that examination hall.
Follow some simple tips to score well in this section. First of all, use synonyms and do not repeat the same word multiple times in the essay. Focus on using the right punctuations throughout the essay. Remember that the first letter of cities, countries, proper nouns, and “I” are always written in CAPS. For example: India, Mumbai, and Disha.
Use collocations (collection of words that go together) like in a row, make changes, and take a chance. Add words like However, Moreover, Furthermore, Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, and Lastly in your article. You might as well use adverbs like Usually, Arguably, Undoubtedly, and Generally. Show the examiner that you know your tenses and you can use a verb in multiple forms. Do not forget to write in different paragraphs. Breaking your essay into four paragraphs is a good idea.
Speaking Test IELTS Preparation Tips
Speaking test is more like an interview. Your examiner will ask you simple questions to judge your English fluency, cohesiveness, vocabulary, and pronunciation. In the first section, you will be asked basic questions like “What do you do?”, “What do you study”, and “How does your home look like”. These questions are pretty simple to answer. Just make sure that you speak confidently and do not hesitate too much.
In the second section, you will be given a cue card and a minute to think about your answer. For instance: You might be asked to describe a memorable party, where it was held, and what made you remember it. The tri+ck here is to speak what you are “comfortable” in talking about. It is not necessary to speak the truth in front of the examiner. For example: If you are asked the happiest moment of your life, keep it simple and talk about your trip to some foreign country rather than talking about your marriage or any such complicated thing where you might get emotionally overwhelmed while answering.
The third section will have related questions according to the question you had in the second section.
Try to use relevant vocabulary according to the topic you are speaking about. For example: If you are talking about your travel experience, use words like scenic, picturesque, mesmerizing, splendid, verdant, lush green, and magnificent.
You must gain exposure to diverse topics while preparing yourself for the IELTS examination. Do not memorize any sentences as the examiner is smart enough to understand such utterances. You can lose points for that.
Practice speaking by recording yourself and hearing it to figure out how fluent you were. See whether you took too many unnecessary pauses while speaking or hesitated because you were looking for the right word. A good idea is to send it to a friend who speaks fluent English or a professional IELTS trainer who has appeared in the examination.
What is the IELTS preparation time?
The time required for IELTS preparation is different for everyone. It depends on the level of expertise you have in English. For example: Someone who is not a native English speaker or who has never studied English during his academic tenure might take six months to be fully prepared for the exam. On the other hand, if you have studied English as a language in your school or you are a native English speaker, one month to three months would be more than enough for you.
Time Table for IELTS Preparation
Let me share a model time table for you.
Suppose you have 65 days to prepare for your IELTS examination.
What you can do is you can divide the four sections across 15 days. In other words, for each section, you will get two weeks for preparation.
During this time, you have to focus on reading, speaking, listening, as well as writing. Many students avoid writing as it looks like a boring thing to do. That’s the biggest mistake you can do. Practice writing tasks 1 and 2 just like you work on your reading and listening tasks. The same goes for speaking. Find a friend who is a fluent English speaker and talk in English with him or her. Ask him/her to correct your mistakes wherever you fumble. This will help you score a high band score on the speaking test.
Books and other material for IELTS Preparation
Cambridge 1 to 15 are the best books if you want to prepare for the IELTS examination. Other than that, Barron’s IELTS is also one of the most popular books for IELTS preparation. Both these books come with audio CDs for the listening test.
There are several people who are looking forward to studying IELTS for free. Those test takers can bank of YouTube channels by IELTS Liz and E2 IELTS by Jay. Both these channels are the silver bullet to score well in IELTS examination.
With these books on hand and YouTube videos, you can start IELTS preparation at home without any need to join a coaching center.
General vs Academic IELTS preparation tips
As academic examination is tougher than general examination, make sure you spare enough time in case you are appearing in the academic module. The time required for IELTS preparation of general module is relatively lesser than academic preparation. Writing is especially a bit tougher in academic module.
Bonus IELTS Preparation Tips:
- One of the most important IELTS preparation tips is to go through the format of the test thoroughly. Understand how the questions are framed, how paraphrasing works, and what is expected out of you. Also, try to understand the scoring system.
- Smart work is the key to score well in IELTS. For instance: In the reading section, the answers are generally in sequential order. The same holds true for the listening test. You will keep ‘listening’ the answers as the audio progresses.
- Rather than relying on someone else’s answer of “how long does IELTS preparation take”, set your goals and decide for yourself. Figure out how long will YOU take for IELTS preparation.
- Watch English movies or serials with subtitles.
- Talk to your friends and family members in English. It would be great if you have someone who can correct your mistakes while you talk.
- Read English newspapers, billboards, and online articles from authentic sources to improve your vocabulary.
- Write at least 500 words every day and get it checked from a mentor so that you can improve on your mistakes.
- Speak on any topic for 3 minutes and record it. Listen to it and see if you are fluent enough. Take the help of a professional who can let you know your mistakes.
- Work on your pronunciations if you feel it is not up to the mark.
- Get Cambridge IELTS preparation books from 1 to 15 and practice all the tests besides following these IELTS preparation tips. This will give you an edge in comparison to others who might not have practiced these tests.
- Do not shy away from taking professional help or spending some money in case you are not sure about your level of English.
- Get familiar with collocations and complex sentences for the writing section. Take help of basic English grammar books, if needed.
- Take multiple mock tests so that you know exactly where you stand.
- In case you do not get the desired score, do not take the next examination date immediately. Take enough time to prepare. Once you are confident enough, you can book the date again and appear on the test.
Here’s a video that will tell you the basics about IELTS preparation tips.
IELTS is not as difficult as it might seem from far away. It is quite simple if you follow the basic IELTS preparation tips. Contrary to popular belief, there is no minimum or maximum time taken to prepare for this examination. Define the band score that you want to achieve and based on that, set your pace of learning. Do not get disheartened even if you are a slow learner. As long as you are getting better, the speed is not important. Just make sure that you do not procrastinate and avoid learning out of fear. Face it and be ready to work hard for it.
Just bear in mind these IELTS preparation tips and you will surely score well.