How do I best prepare for the IELTS exam?

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How to best prepare for the IELTS exam?
  • Get familiar with the format of the test so you know what to expect.
  • Practice sample papers under timed conditions. (You can find resources here.)
  • Develop strategies to deal with different question types.
  • Keep a watch on the table during the exam so you can keep track of time on exam day.
How do I practise the multiple-choice part of the test?

For the multiple-choice questions in the Reading and Listening sections, I advise my students to cover up the 4 choices and listen or read for the answer first. Then, reveal the 4 options and hopefully your answer will be the same as one of the choices.” 

How do I practise the writing part of the test?
  • Learn templates for the different kinds of writing tasks you may be asked e.g. a letter, a discursive essay, summarising, describing and analysing a diagram or graph.
  • Become familiar with planning for each piece of writing and know how long you should spend on each question. For example, writing part 2 is worth more points than part 1 so plan to spend 20 minutes on part 1 then 40 on part 2.
  • Get used to skim reading (reading for the general idea of a text) and detailed reading whereby you take time to understand the vocabulary.

Don’t forget the importance of learning to quickly check the type of questions asked before reading a text (dates, names of people, etc) so you will know where to find the answers. 

  • Get used to knowing when to give up! If you really don’t know an answer, don’t panic, move on. Give yourself time to go back at the end: You should always put an answer down as you are not penalised for a wrong answer.
  • Get used to listening to recordings only once (as you only hear them once in the exam.)
  • Remember how important it is to read the question carefully!

“I’ll say it again. Read the question! If the question asks you to write one word, and under the stress of the exam you miss this information and write two, you are going to waste your time and also it will be a clear signal to the examiner that you have not understood the task.”  (Liz McEwan, TutorsPlus Client Manager and EFL teacher.)

Language improvement.

“Make the BBC news your new best friend.”

In addition to the general advice given above, you should also ensure you do the following as often as you can to best prepare for the IELTS exam:

  • Listen to the news for 20 minutes and write down the key points.
  • Read a newspaper article and then write a summary.
  • Give a presentation to a friend (or the mirror!). It’s important to get used to speaking aloud

for an allotted amount of time.

  • Do sample papers under no time pressure and take time to underline new vocabulary, structures etc. Mark them yourself and spend time understanding any errors you made.
  • Look for synonyms, phrasal verbs, fixed expressions and idioms everywhere you go! Keep a notebook handy and jot them down.
  • Join an IELTS preparation course or book some sessions with a tutor. TutorsPlus have a number of EFL experts on their team, including IELTS examiners.
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