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There are many ways to prepare for the IELTS . It can seem like a daunting task, but we’re going to give you some helpful IELTS study tips to help you refine your study habits. IELTS is divided into two versions- Academic (A) and General Training (GT). It is considered as the basic yardstick for admission to many international universities across the globe. So, the big question is what does it take to crack IELTS exam? It is imperative to understand the exam pattern of IELTS before going through IELTS preparation tips.

IELTS Test Pattern 2018

IELTS Test ComponentDurationBrief Description
Listening30 minutes4 sections, 40 items
Reading60 minutes3 sections, 40 items
Writing60 minutes2 tasks
Speaking11-14 minutes3 part one-on-one conversation

#7 IELTS Study Tips

Tip #1 You must focus on building your Core English Skills

A major mistake some IELTS candidates make when preparing for the test is focusing only on mock tests. Many think that the more mock tests they do, the better prepared they will be. This is a misconception.

The test is skill-based, not knowledge-based. This means that each mock test you do will contain different content that you can’t study for. It’s about the quality of your skills, and not the quantity of your mock tests.

Language (and all its parts) is a skill. So, you need to learn reading skills, writing skills, listening skills and speaking skills. You can’t approach building your language skills the same way when you do mock tests. Although familiarity with the test format is half the battle, don’t underestimate the need to develop your language skills.

So, find a good English teacher, take an English course and immerse yourself in the language through books, newspapers, music and movies. Find some English-speaking friends and organise an English only conversation club. The more natural the language becomes to you, the more comfortable you are going to feel in the test.

Tip #2 Learn from your weaknesses

Learning from your mistakes and being conscious of your habits and weaknesses is an important step towards success. As a teacher, I have given written feedback to students who have then submitted another writing sample with the same mistakes!

Take your time to really understand your errors. Are they related to spelling? If so, then practice writing these misspelled words correctly. Are your errors related to verb tense? Then go back and re-learn verb tenses and how to use them correctly. Are your errors related to vocabulary? You get my point. Take your mistakes as opportunities to recognize them, correct them and avoid making them again.

Tip #3 Structure your essay writing

Develop your writing skills by learning how to structure an essay paragraph by paragraph. Practice reading and understanding essay questions. It is easy to go off topic or not directly answer the question. Also, read many different sample essay questions and write sample responses.

The more practice you get writing responses to different IELTS essay questions, the more comfortable you will feel with various topics. Be careful not to memorize sample essays. I have seen many candidates make this mistake. Even if you get the same or similar topic in the test, the focus of the question will be different and therefore the answer will have to specifically address the question.

IELTS examiners know how to spot memorized essays and they will give zero no matter how well written it is. It’s also important to practice handwriting 250 words in timed conditions. Your handwriting must the neat and legible. So, if you don’t feel comfortable with writing by hand, then this is a skill you definitely need to practice!

Tip #4 Practice your speaking

The same goes with speaking. Practice as many sample speaking tests with a friend. Become comfortable speaking about yourself and your experiences. You can have some general answers pre-prepared related to your basic information related to the first part of the test, but this should come out as spontaneous and natural.

Also remember to avoid memorizing presentations for part 2. The examiner will know if you are repeating memorized answers. Remember, you are speaking about yourself, your experiences and your opinion. So try to do this on a daily basis before the exam. Even if it means speaking to yourself!

Tip #5 Read a diverse range of articles

Read up on general topics such as news, current affairs, science, climate change, animals, history, economics, sociology, etc. The more you read, the more familiar you will become with new vocabulary in context.

This help you expand your knowledge of English and feel more comfortable with the reading passages in the test. If you are doing IELTS academic, but have never read an academic passage until the day of the test, you might be in trouble. So, use sites like National Geographic, the Economist, the New Internationalist and Science Daily to become and academic reader.

Tip #6 Learn native-like fluency

Become comfortable with different accents and pronunciation by listening to podcasts and Ted talks. Not only can this help you understand different accents, but is also a great way to expose yourself to new vocabulary and different interesting topics. Remember, the broader your general language and general knowledge, the more comfortable you will be with the language and topics in the test.

Tip #7 Know the test tips and strategies

Finally, learn the test tips and strategies and apply them to practice tests. This will help you learn how to manage your time and how to use it effectively to complete each section of the test. One key to success in the test comes down to time-management and test tricks, but this will only take you so far on the road to success if your language skills aren’t up to scratch!

Take time to learn the parts of the test individually. For example, understand the reading test – how many passages there are, how long they are, how many questions there are, the types of questions there are, etc. All of this will help you to know how to manage your time. Learning the question types will also help you to have no surprises on test-day. Once you feel comfortable answering True, False, Not Given questions for example, then you won’t be afraid of them when you see them on test-day.


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