9 Things to Keep in Mind Before Preparing for the IELTS Exam


The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English Language Proficiency test for higher study and migration to a country where English is the major language.

IELTS is the recommended English proficiency examination for prospective students, professionals, and migration seekers, and it is trusted and recognised by a wide range of educational institutions, employers, governments, and professionals.

The IELTS exam is structured and designed to measure an applicant’s competency in four English language skills: IELTS Reading, IELTS Writing, IELTS Speaking, and IELTS Listening.

Cracking the IELTS, especially, on the first attempt needs a plan. The plan needs to include signing up for an IELTS online course, understand the structure of the test, and practice the necessary test skills. Therefore, the check-list for your IELTS preparation online is as follows:


1. Understand the Test Structure and Format

Understand the Test Structure

First of all, the candidate needs to know the duration of the actual test. Understanding the IELTS structure and format of the test will give an individual a perspective of the difficulty of the test. The IELTS exam pattern tests you for four skills in the English language, that is listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The total time of the test is approximately 2 hours 40 minutes excluding the Speaking section that is undertaken on a separate day. The order of the test is listening, reading, writing. The speaking can be scheduled anywhere between a week before or after the listening, reading, and writing.

The IELTS is predominantly available in both paper and computer-based test. It is wise to choose the paper or computer format after trying tests in both formats. It is basically about being comfortable with reading on a computer screen for an hour and being able to type at least 30 words per minute for the writing task. The speaking is the same for both test formats, they are done on a separate day with an interlocutor and not a computer. You need to be aware if you need to take the General IELTS or Academic IELTS? The purpose of each type and why you need one type and not the other?


2. Understand the Scoring of the Test

Understand the Scoring of the Test

The unique scoring pattern should be understood well to help you have a target in mind while preparing. The listening and reading have a raw score from 0-40 based on the number of answers that are correct with each question given 1 point. There is no negative marking and all questions receive an equal score. However, the raw score is converted into a band score from 0-9, a sample of the approximate conversion can be found on the official website.

Now the writing and speaking sections are different, unlike the listening and reading sections that have 40 questions each. The writing and speaking sections have a unique criterion based on which candidates are given a band score from 0-9.


3. What is Your Action Plan?

What is Your Action Plan?

Once you understand the structure and format of the test, it is time to decide how to plan your practice. The IELTS exam syllabus would require general English knowledge to be able to improve the required skills according to the test structure. You could simply prepare yourself with online material or decide to enrol in online IELTS classes to help with your preparation. An experienced and qualified tutor will make a significant difference in your test plan. It is ideal to give yourself one to two months’ time to prepare but it’s best to enrol yourself with a tutor and create a study test plan.


4. Join an IELTS Preparatory Course

Join an IELTS Preparatory Course

Your plan can just be to join a course but it is important to join the right course, the right tutor, and understand how that course could benefit you. Such as how are the classes conducted? Is it a batch or personal sessions? Does the course have a diagnosis and mock tests? You should be aware before choosing the best IELTS online course.

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5. Practice the Required IELTS Skills

Practice the Required IELTS Skills

An individual who might be an expert in the English language still struggles to get the desired results or band score in multiple attempts. The reason might be that the candidate is not in line with the skills required for the IELTS exam syllabus. This is an example where the choosing right IELTS preparation course plays an important role.


6. Use Authentic Material

Use Authentic Material

Most students are unaware of the type of material they need to practice. The IELTS is jointly owned and administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. These institutions spend a lot of money and effort to create the tests that are taken by students. So, not every reading paper or listening test online would match the actual IELTS exam syllabus. Most students practice with unauthentic material and believe they are doing well to only be unpleasantly surprised in the actual test when the questions seem different. During the planning of your IELTS preparations, look for authentic material like the IELTS test series to ace the test.


7. Learn English Out of the Classroom

Learn English Out of the Classroom

You cannot expect an IELTS online course or IELTS tutor to fetch you a magic score on the IELTS. Remember that you are writing a test that tests you in the English language. So, a course would help you speed up the process of understanding the test and preparation, however, becoming proficient in general English does not happen overnight. Tutors can help you to practice but it’s your duty to go above and beyond to develop your language proficiency outside the classroom. For instance, using the IELTS strategies in real office work or using new vocabulary in a casual conversation with a friend or colleague.


8. Personal Evaluation

Personal Evaluation

Although the main purpose of enrolling for an IELTS course is to get feedback to improve your skills. Self-evaluation is an important way to retrospect your preparation. Assess how much have you improved since the first practice test. Have the online classes and IELTS practice tests been helpful?


9. Register for the Test

Register for the Test

Register your test well ahead of the test date, give yourself at least a month. Select the medium of the test in which you are comfortable. Also, check the location and transportation. Makes sure you take the required documents on the test day. Make sure you have had all your queries addressed while booking the test. Don’t worry about the formalities because the staff will be there to help you.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. What is the IELTS exam?

IELTS stands for ‘International English Language Testing System’ and is an English proficiency exam. This exam will test your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Q2. How much will the IELTS exam cost me?

You can find out the exact amount by visiting the official British Council website.

Q3. How soon can a candidate retake the test?

If you didn’t achieve your target score, you can apply to retake the test as soon as you feel ready. However, before applying for a retake you need to keep in mind that your score is unlikely to improve without significant effort and additional preparation.

Q4. Will I get the IELTS Speaking slot I choose during the registration?

It is necessary to provide the speaking slot selected by the candidate, however, given the current COVID situation, the speaking time slot being chosen by the candidates may not be available. Details of the test (venue, date, and time) will be sent to the candidates 2 days prior to the test date on the registered email address and mobile number.


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