Steps to Take When Preparing for Your IELTS Test
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test of English language proficiency. The test focuses on "International English", which includes British English, American English and other. There are more than 1000 test centres worldwide and up to 48 test dates available per year. Each test centre offers tests up to four times a month depending on the local demand. To pass your IELTS Test, you need to prepare well in advance! Here are some tips and tricks to help with your preparation.
6 Months in Advance
- Make sure you know what IELTS score you will need to get.
- Do you know what your current level of English is? If you are B1, it might be a good idea to do a General English course before taking an IELTS preparation course. If you are B2 or higher, think about taking an IELTS preparation course to make sure your IELTS score truly reflects your proficiency level.
- Register for your IELTS test well in advance to make sure you get a place.
- Tell the British Council if you have any specific needs, e.g. if you are a wheelchair user or you suffer from dyslexia – the British Council can make the necessary arrangements. Make sure you get a doctor’s note, too!
- Start practicing you English speaking, listening, reading and writing as much as possible. Start NOW rather than postponing to the last minute!
3 Months in Advance
Start doing some ‘serious’ exam practice. There’s plenty of material on the Internet, for example:
- The British Council’s free LearnEnglish resources;
- Take IELTS, which includes free practice tests;
- Road to IELTS, which is free if you register for your test with the British Council.
- Think about the topics which frequently occur in the speaking test.
- Do you know, and can you pronounce, the important words? Use a dictionary, look them up, write them down, and practice your speech.
- Do you find some accents more difficult to understand than others? For example Australian? Find examples of these (e.g. news reporters on Al Jazeera) and try to listen regularly.
- Time your reading. Are you able to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes?
- Which question types do YOU find most difficult? Give yourself more time for practice.
- Time your writing. Can you write: 150 words in 20 minutes? What about 250 words in 40 minutes?
- If you are writing too little, ask yourself: what information have I left out?
- If you are writing too much, ask yourself: what irrelevant information have I included?
Last Minute Advice
Make sure you know:
- the 4 sections of the IELTS test;
- how long each section lasts;
- the order of the sections.
Immerse yourself in the English language! Read anything (and everything) in English. Turn your TV, radio and computer to English-medium programmes. Have English music blaring from your speakers in your room! Finally, don’t panic. You can do it!