The International English Language Testing System (or IELTS) is a series of tests that individuals can take to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language—often for the purpose of studying or working where English is predominantly spoken. Many colleges, universities, and workplaces accept it across the globe.
The IELTS consists of two different tests: the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training. The Listening and Speaking components of the exam are the same for both tests, but the Reading and Writing components vary. Here are five tips to keep in mind when preparing for the IELTS:
1. Use a practice test to familiarize yourself with the exam structure
The total testing time for the IELTS is two hours and 45 minutes. Each section has its own time limit for completing questions. The Listening, Reading, and Writing portions must be completed on the same day, but the Speaking section can be taken up to a week before or after the other portions. Review the sections in order to determine how long you will be able to spend on each question. While it is important to answer every question (as there is no penalty for an incorrect answer), it is perfectly fine to move on to another question if you do not know the answer and are running short on time. You can return to the questions you skipped, as long as you have allotted time to check your answers.
2. Practice reading, writing, and speaking in English whenever possible
Watch English-language television shows and films. Read books and articles in English. Practice conversational English with friends. In short, become comfortable using English in both academic and informal settings in order to improve your fluency. The Speaking part of the test will require you to talk about both simple and more complex topics, so it is important to pay attention to the instructions you are given.
3. Find a study partner
Practice with a friend or find a study group that is specifically devoted to practicing for the IELTS. Speak with others who have taken the exam before, so they can share their experience and answer any questions you may have.
4. Do a “dry run” of the test
With the help of a friend, take a practice exam in a simulated testing environment. Time yourself, and treat this practice period as if you were really taking the exam. This can help you feel more relaxed on test day and can help you pinpoint any areas you may need to improve. It may also be helpful to familiarize yourself with the testing location, and to ensure that you have followed all instructions and paid any applicable fees ahead of your exam date.
5. Be prepared
Make sure to get plenty of sleep, as well as something to eat before the test. Lack of rest and a rumbling stomach are definite distractions that can prevent you from doing well. Take the time to create a routine for the morning of the exam, and stick to it.
Each year, millions of people take the IELTS to apply for educational and vocational opportunities around the world. While the length and complexity of the test may seem daunting at first, becoming familiar with the exam components and planning accordingly is the best way to ensure your testing success.
Niki Bridges is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.