IELTS Exam Preparation: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide

The IELTS is widely regarded as the most commonly taken English language examination globally. It is mandated by a diverse range of entities, including universities, immigration departments, government agencies, and multinational corporations, with more than 10,000 organizations worldwide requesting individuals studying English as a second language to demonstrate their proficiency based on the rigorous standards set by the IELTS.

IELTS exam preparation is challenging, requiring proficient English communication skills and strategic test-taking techniques. However, attaining the desired score can be manageable. This article offers ten practical methods to prepare for success in the IELTS, accompanied by numerous valuable resources.

IELTS Exam Preparation: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide

Gain a clear understanding of the commitment you are making.

Taking an IELTS exam is comparable to searching for a job. One should not assume it is not challenging or time-consuming simply because many people they know have taken it. It is crucial to conduct some preliminary research before scheduling the test. Our article comprehensively explains the disparities between the IELTS and TOEFL exams. Additionally, reviewing the official outline of the test format may be helpful in the “how to prepare for IELTS exam” request. It’s also recommended to consider the following factors:

  • How to do IELTS? Would I prefer to take the computerized or traditional paper-based IELTS? The two versions are similar as they are conducted in an examination center. Some individuals like the paper version as they are more comfortable with a familiar keyboard layout, while others find selecting answers faster on a computer.
  • Should I take the IELTS Academic or the IELTS General Training? The IELTS Academic caters to individuals aiming for English-language studies, whereas the IELTS General Training suits those requiring English proficiency for work or immigration reasons. Both tests share a comparable structure; however, the IELTS Academic features more academic readings. On the other hand, the IELTS General Training emphasizes everyday language, showcasing materials like newspaper pieces and emails. For those aiming to move to the UK, it’s crucial to know that the UKVI IELTS is the required variant. Both exams have a similar format, but the IELTS Academic includes more scholarly texts. In contrast, the IELTS General Training focuses on language used in daily life, such as newspaper articles and emails. It’s important to note that if you plan to immigrate to the UK, you must take a different type of IELTS called the UKVI IELTS.
  • How much time will I dedicate to studying to obtain a good IELTS score? Initially, you must determine the required IELTS score. Typically, most institutions expect a score ranging from 6 to 7, which equates to a B2 to C1 on the CEFR scale. Being aware of your CEFR level allows you to gauge the score you might attain on the IELTS with relative ease. This estimation will assist you in determining the amount of time necessary to enhance your IELTS score. IELTS Advantage says, “Most English schools recommend at least six months to enhance a student’s English proficiency by approximately 0.5 to 1 band score.” If you are not conversational in English, you should focus on improving your English language abilities before starting your test preparation.

To start, allocate one to two hours to acquaint yourself with the test. This includes understanding its format, the process of taking the test, and the specific abilities you need to enhance. Reach out to a friend who recently took the exam for additional insights. Additionally, estimate the time you will require to prepare and achieve the desired grade, then schedule your exam accordingly, considering a reasonable timeframe.

Find a personal tutor

When getting ready for the IELTS exam preparation, many factors must be considered. Enrolling in online classes with an IELTS expert teacher will help you save a significant amount of time and effort. By using, you can easily find a knowledgeable and approachable tutor who can guide you through the process. Instead of struggling with textbooks and searching for trustworthy advice on different websites, you’ll receive customized recommendations from an experienced professional who has helped numerous students succeed in the IELTS exam.

Receive assistance to complete your English examination. Obtain customized lessons with a tutor to excel in your upcoming test. Discover available English tutors to help you in your studies.

Your tutor will evaluate your practice exams and assist you in determining which areas require more attention. They will also support and encourage you to succeed, providing moral support that can significantly motivate you.

On the platform, the cost of an IELTS specialist tutor is more affordable than anticipated. They could potentially save you money down the line. A few sessions with a skilled tutor might make the difference between needing to retake the test or not.

To complete this task, you should visit’s website and explore their list of tutors specializing in IELTS and find the answer to the question “How to prepare for IELTS exam.” Make sure to check if any tutors are available that match your budget and schedule.

Learn the grading criteria inside out

Understanding what a firm answer entails is the key to excelling in any test. The assessment criteria for IELTS are invaluable and should guide all of your responses. These guidelines determine your level of achievement, so it is crucial to grasp them to meet the required grade thoroughly. This is particularly vital in the speaking and writing sections, where answers are evaluated based on subjective aspects. While you can find sample answers online, ensure they are from reliable sources such as the official websites and textbooks provided by the IELTS exam boards.

Remember that one of the peculiar aspects of this test is that you are supposed to make many mistakes. Both individuals aiming for a band four score and those striving for a band eight score take the same exam. Understanding the grading criteria includes knowing how many incorrect answers you can afford. For example, to target a band 6 in the academic reading test, you only need to answer 23 out of 40 questions correctly. Quite comforting!

To accomplish this task, obtain a sample answer sheet that has received the desired grade and examine it. For optimal results, perform this activity with the assistance of an IELTS expert tutor to ensure the accuracy of all your connections.

Make the most of official resources

The IELTS preparation sector is expansive, offering a variety of resources such as courses, books, apps, and platforms for students. Initially, it might require time to identify which tools are trustworthy and beneficial. In general, avoiding hastily investing in unnecessary tools is advisable.

The first resource you should consult is the official IELTS practice content available on the exam board’s websites, social media channels, and textbooks. This is because the exam board holds the most extensive knowledge about the exam. Begin your preparation here.

  • IELTS official sample papers
  • More IELTS official sample papers
  • The British Council provides free preparation courses and materials for IELTS.
  • IELTS videos and tips
  • IELTS official Facebook page
  • Official (free) IELTS apps
  • A list of official textbooks
  • Official IELTS progress check
  • IELTS official Facebook page
  • IELTS information publication

Task: Establish a bookmarks folder containing the essential official resources in your internet browser. Keep up with the latest updates by following IELTS official accounts on social media.

Look at various blogs and YouTube channels focusing on specific topics.

Numerous YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, and Facebook pages by professionals (and some self-proclaimed “experts”) are available where they discuss the “how to prepare IELTS” technique. Several of these platforms contain valuable insights that can be considered invaluable.

It is essential to exercise caution when relying too heavily on unofficial sources. Keep in mind that the IELTS undergoes frequent modifications and updates annually. An online article or video must be updated by a few years to ensure reliability. Nevertheless, unofficial online communities can provide valuable perspectives from other individuals who have taken the exam, which may be outside the official exam board.

Unofficial free IELTS resources

  • IELTS Liz is a blogger who guides individuals looking to achieve high scores in the IELTS test, particularly bands seven and above. She goes as far as making educated guesses about potential test topics by examining previous year’s exams. However, it is essential to note that there are no guarantees, and her predictions should be taken skeptically.
  • Asiya, the creator of Fastrack IELTS, is a YouTube channel that provides helpful information for those preparing for the IELTS test. Asiya has accomplished an impressive score of 8.5 in the IELTS and used her experience to relocate to London. On her channel, she shares her personal tips that aided her in achieving this score and provides valuable insights into the test format.
  • The IELTS Reddit thread is a lively online community for individuals preparing for the test.
  • A comprehensive IELTS course for the year 2020 is available for free on YouTube.
  • The All Ears English podcast is explicitly designed for individuals preparing to take the IELTS examination.
  • The IELTS podcast is yet another platform that offers a blog containing helpful tips.
  • HowToDoIELTS Facebook group.

Task: Look for IELTS-related content on the online platforms you are already a part of, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Spotify, and YouTube. There are exam preparers present everywhere that has access to WiFi.

Do more practice tests than you believe are necessary.

Each exam requires skills to conquer, and the IELTS is particularly challenging. It is crucial to incorporate test-taking into your regular study schedule well before you feel fully ready.

Practice tests are essential to improve specific skills needed for the IELTS exam preparation. As Asiya from Fasttrack IELTS stated, managing time effectively is the biggest exam challenge. With a lot of content to cover in just two and a half hours, learning how to work swiftly and strategically is essential. For instance, in the initial writing task, approximately 20 minutes should be allocated to write about 150 words. Only through experience can one understand the process of writing 150 words within a 20-minute timeframe.

Practice is essential not only for the writing section of the exam but also for the listening section. Kaplan suggests multitasking is crucial during the listening section, as you must listen, answer questions, and take notes simultaneously. Engaging in IELTS listening tests can assist in honing this skill.

Attempt to complete at least one skill test per week before the test. Consistently trying all sections will aid in improving your speed and approach. Request a tutor to grade your exam papers and discuss any areas of weakness you can focus on.

To-do task: Locate many exams for the specific exam board you intend to study for and incorporate practice tests into your schedule.

Establish a timetable for studying (and adhere to it!)

No matter when you schedule your test, it will approach quickly. It is crucial to have a plan in place to achieve your objectives. Determine how much time you can study and mark those slots in your schedule. Some tutors advise studying for four or five hours daily for the TOEFL exam, while others recommend a minimum of five hours per week.

If you are still determining how much time you should spend studying the textbooks to achieve your desired results, scheduling a session with a knowledgeable tutor would be beneficial. Discussing your concerns before booking a test, the tutor can advise on creating a feasible study schedule. This guidance can save you money and effort while aiding your preparation for success.

It is recommended to allocate your time evenly among the four parts of the test since they are all worth the same number of marks. The British Council offers a study plan that divides each week of the month into a different task on the test.

Task: Examine your daily schedule to identify opportunities for studying. For instance, allocate time in the morning to go through flashcards while having breakfast and set aside thirty minutes after work for listening or writing practice. Regard these study periods as appointments you have made with yourself.

Plan your study time for language learning with this gratis study planner!

Surround yourself with English as frequently as you can.

Up until now, we have discussed various approaches to handle the test. However, since it is primarily a test of English language proficiency, enhancing your English quickly should be a top priority. If your goal is to achieve a band score of 6 or 7 in the IELTS, your English skills are already strong, and you want to expand your vocabulary and improve your sentence structure to a greater extent.

Dedicating a significant portion of your daily routine to thinking in the English language is beneficial. Here best way to prepare for IELTS:

  • I am making a few phone calls each week to friends or family who speak English to practice informal conversation.
  • I am spending time with additional individuals who speak English, whether on the internet or in real life.
  • Playing video games in English, ideally using a headset to communicate with other English speakers.
  • Watching movies and TV shows in the English language
  • Reading in English
  • Doing some language exchanges
  • Listening to podcasts in English
  • Discovering excellent English language YouTubers
  • Switching your phone settings to English
  • Reading the news in English
  • Using some English language apps
  • Many of the most successful methods to become fluent in English only involve studying but immersing oneself in the language once it becomes natural.

Task: Discover innovative methods to incorporate the English language into your everyday schedule. Experiment with merging active studying approaches with more relaxed, passive techniques.

Expand your vocabulary

Many language learners need help expanding their vocabulary to advance from an intermediate to an advanced level. Enhancing your vocabulary can be beneficial in improving all aspects of the IELTS test. Language accounts for 25% of the scores in the speaking and writing sections, and it also plays a crucial role in your performance in the reading and listening sections. For guidance on enhancing your overall vocabulary, refer to our article on methods to increase your knowledge of English words.

Some students attempt to predict the type of vocabulary that will likely be tested in the IELTS exam and focus their studying efforts on that. However, this approach is not recommended by the exam board. The whole purpose of a test is to evaluate one’s knowledge without prior knowledge of the questions that will be asked. Nevertheless, specific topics tend to appear more frequently than others. According to IELTS Advantage, approximately ten general issues are more commonly tested. Websites such as How To Do IELTS allow test-takers to share recent question topics to assist other learners. IELTS Liz also makes predictions on potential question topics for the exam. By practicing many tests, you may notice patterns yourself.

It is important to avoid relying on topic predictions regarding IELTS exam preparation. The only sure thing is that the vocabulary will vary between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests. Depending on which version you are taking, you should primarily focus on academic English sources, such as journal articles and textbooks, or English used in everyday life, such as newspapers, magazines, and business websites.

To do: If you don’t already have one, obtain a notebook to record unfamiliar English words you encounter while reading, listening, or watching English content. Remember to carry it with you whenever you study because learning new words is beneficial! Periodically, transfer the most valuable and practical comments into a flashcard application so you can conveniently review them while on the move.

Have a plan for test day

The most intimidating aspect of any test is that, regardless of how well-prepared you are, it ultimately depends on your mindset on the exam day. You must be in the right mental state to successfully face the test. The usual IELTS training tips for organizing yourself before an exam, which you may recall from your school days, remain valid.

  • What is your means of transportation to the examination center? Try to do a trial run to ensure you arrive there on time!
  • What items should you bring with you? Make sure to bring your identification, which should match the ID you provided on your IELTS Application form. Additionally, you should bring a water bottle and a snack to consume just before the test. Keep in mind that getting a watch is not permitted.
  • Are you planning to review your notes right before the test? Alternatively, will you take a short break to relax and catch your breath?
  • What meal and beverage choice will you opt for before the examination? A hearty breakfast to sustain your energy? Alternatively, something lighter to avoid feeling overly full?
  • Are you planning on consuming an increased amount of caffeine? Or are you looking for something to relax you? Remember that you may need to leave the exam room to use the restroom if you drink excessive coffee.
  • What clothing should you choose? Ensure that you are at ease and not overly warm or chilly. Remember that you will have your picture taken before the examination. If this idea makes you uneasy, avoid wearing pajamas when arriving.

A wealth of valuable guidance is available for test day from reliable sources, including individuals who have personally taken the IELTS exam. As stated in a blog post on the British Council’s IELTS blog, it is recommended to prepare for the speaking test similarly to warming up for a race. A professor suggests that it is beneficial for students to speak English for at least 24 hours before the IELTS test.

According to Asiya from Fasttrack IELTS, allocating approximately four hours for your time at the test center is advisable. This is because the registration process can be time-consuming, and there is typically some wait time between different test sections. It is beneficial to have this knowledge beforehand as it helps you better anticipate and prepare for test day. Reading about others’ experiences and what to expect will also enhance your level of preparedness.

To take action, create a schedule for the test day on a sticky note and place it where it is visible. Wake up at 7 AM, have porridge and a banana at 7:30 AM, and review flashcards at 7:45 AM…

A brief afterword

To state that a high IELTS score can profoundly impact your life would not be an overstatement. It can unlock an array of job, educational, and relocation prospects exclusively reserved for those fluent in English. Enrolling in personalized online lessons with a specialized “how to prepare IELTS” tutor will provide the necessary support to approach the test and ensure your success confidently. Investing in the guidance of an experienced professional with firsthand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities presented by the IELTS exam preparation could be the most beneficial choice you can make to safeguard your future.

No matter how you approach it, you can be confident that thousands of individuals successfully achieve their IELTS goals each year in 2018. If you put in effort and plan your studies wisely, you can also attain your desired IELTS targets.