Preparing for the IELTS Exam

by IDP

Welcome back to our three-part series on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). In part one, we gave you an overview of the IELTS and answered some popular questions. In part two, we will answer more questions and dive into the steps that will help you succeed on your test.
IELTS is a high-stakes test and you must be well prepared to demonstrate your English skills to the fullest. IDP IELTS provides you with multiple support tools to help you prepare to do your best on the test.

What can I do to prepare?

Doing some practical preparation for IELTS is a great way to prepare. However, consider that an IELTS band score of 7 (the highest score is a 9) represents thousands of hours spent on studying the English language. The best way to prepare for the test is to use your English skills every day using every opportunity you can to speak English. Speak to your friends in English, write notes in English, listen to the radio or TV in English, and read in English. Avoid waiting until the day or the week before the test and start practicing now.

Is it difficult to prepare for the IELTS exam?

IELTS is a comprehensive language test that measures a range of language abilities. You need to have a general level of English to complete it, but preparing for the test requires investing a lot of your time. Be sure to review all of the extensive free resources available. The more you prepare, the easier it is to demonstrate your English language skills.

What kinds of resources are available to prepare for the test?

IELTS professionals have developed several resources that are an excellent way to help you prepare.
  • Free IELTS seminarsThese in-person sessions run by IELTS professionals are great for people who prefer a face-to-face experience. There are several sessions held each month.
    • Held at multiple locations across Canada
    • Interactive
    • Provide details on all parts of the test
    • Practice sample listening/speaking/reading/writing questions
    • Ask questions specific to your needs
    • Learn tips in each session on how to score higher on either the listening and reading or speaking and writing sections of the test
  • IDP masterclass webinarsThere are two webinars held each month. They are very convenient for those who cannot attend face-to-face sessions. These sessions are very popular and people find them extremely helpful.
    • Online 90-minute sessions run by IELTS professionals
    • Live and interactive
    • Practice sample listening/speaking/reading/writing questions
    • Learn tips on how to avoid the most commonly made mistakes
    • Information about how the test is scored and what examiners are looking
    • Introduction to the IELTS band scores and the requirements to achieve particular ratings
    • Ask questions in real time
    • Cover all four skill areas (writing, reading, speaking, and listening) in one session
  • Facebook Live sessionsThese sessions are a great way to ask specific questions and get precise answers.
    • Live question and answer sessions
    • Hosted by IELTS expert Don Oliver
    • Monthly sessions conveniently scheduled across time zones
    • Concentrate on one skill area at a time
  • IELTS blogThe blog posts are an excellent opportunity to learn about a variety of different aspects of the IELTS exam. They contain an abundance of information and could answer questions you did not even know you had.
    • The IELTS blog is updated twice a month and contains targeted solutions to specific areas
    • Written by IELTS professionals who understand the difficulties you can encounter
    • Covers a wide array of topics from general issues that relate to IELTS and immigration to specific details about Academic Writing Task 1
    • Easy to access current and archived topics
  • 30-day free online IELTS preparation with test registration: When you book your exam, you receive access to test-prep tools.
    • Your choice of a single module (reading, writing, listening, or speaking)
    • Up to 25 hours of online study time
    • Free practice test in your chosen module
    • Detailed feedback and model answers for all activities
    • Expert IELTS tips and study strategies
    • First module is free upon booking (additional modules can be purchased)
    • Available at select locations
  • Free practice tests: There are free practice tests available for each module in both the Academic and General Training exams.
    • Download free practice tests
    • Become familiar with the format of the test
    • Compare your answers with model answers

Which area should I spend most of my time preparing for?

Every person has their own individual strengths and weaknesses. In most cases, the writing section generates the lowest band scores. If you are interested in finding out average global scores based on first language, country of origin, or country where the test is taken, check Test Taker Performance 2015.

Is there anything else I should know about preparing for the exam?

  • Determine what your personal strengths and weaknesses are
  • Use as many resources as you can to prepare for the test
  • Go to for more tips
  • Spend time understanding what and how skills are being assessed for a higher chance of success
  • Take a long-term approach
  • Practice English in any way to improve your language skills
Most importantly, push yourself to improve every day. Good luck!

Ready for more best practices in regard to exam day? Read part three of our IELTS series.

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