Hello and welcome to this article all about the top test taking tips for the IELTS. I’m not going to write some long introduction as I think the title of the post explains everything. However, I would like to point out that you can read more about the speaking test here and more about the writing test here. Now, read on for my 19 top IELTS test-taking tips.
1. Follow All the IELTS Registration Procedures
This sounds like a bit of a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many people get this wrong. If you do get something wrong, you won’t be able to take the test. Make sure you have done everything, and make sure you have done everything right. If you want to know what the procedure is head over to this great Quora answer.
2. Understand Everything You Have to Do
This is one of the biggest reasons why you need to prepare for the IELTS exam. You need to be familiar with the test directions, how long everything should take, the potential topics, what the types of questions are, how many questions in each section, and probably a lot more things. If you don’t know any of the things I just mentioned, you are definitely not ready for the IELTS.
3. Start Studying Three Months Before the Test
Some people think that three months is too long, but I disagree. Unless you are going to study all day long, you need to allow enough time to learn everything. IELTS is not easy and the more time you give yourself, the more chance you have of succeeding. If you think you can study for more than three months, study more, but be careful you don’t get bored and stop studying.
4. Work Out the Best Time to Study During the Day
The best time of day to study is when you are most alert, relaxed, and stress free. This may not be the same time each day. You may also have to find a balance between how relaxed you are and how quiet your study area is. Sometimes life is not perfect and nor is studying for the IELTS. Don’t use small problems as an excuse not to study.
5. Find Out What Type of Learning Style You Prefer
Are you a visual learner? If so, you should go for visual study aids. If you are more of an auditory learner, then you should use auditory study aids. There are plenty of both online. Find your favourites and use them as often as you can. Just make sure you are using high-quality material. There is a lot of crap out there. You can test what type of learning style you prefer here.
6. Don’t Avoid Studying Your Weaker Skills
I know you don’t like studying what you are not so good at, no one does. But that is not a good enough excuse to avoid studying what you need to study, and will definitely not help you get the score you need for the IELTS. Focus on what you are weakest at. That way you’ll have a better chance of scoring well in all four skills but also in achieving a good overall mark.
7. Find a Speaking Partner to Help You
I have included this one but I’m not sure how useful this tip is. To find a useful study partner means that you need someone who is strong in English, has got a good band or expects to get one, and is willing to help you. Search “IELTS Speaking Partners” on Facebook. However, you’ll have much more success and save a lot of time if you just accept that you’ll have to pay for the help you need.
8. Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
I cannot stress this enough. The amount of IELTS examiners who complain about the poor amount of practise that candidates have done is staggering. If you do not practise enough, you will not do well in the exam, it’s as simple as that. Do not really on short cuts and so-called tricks to help you get the score you need; they don’t exist.
9. Don’t Study the Day Before the Exam
Take the day off the day before the exam. You’ll not learn anything new and even if you did, I doubt you’ll remember it the next day. Try to put the exam out of your mind. Do some exercise, go to the cinema, or watch some TV. Just make sure you go to bed early and have a good night’s sleep. The fresher you feel the day of the exam, the better you should do.
10. Eat During the Day of the Exam
Get up early enough to have a proper breakfast. Take snacks with you to eat during the day. If you are not sure if there is a place to eat lunch, because of your diet, for example, take lunch with you. Don’t eat a big meal if part of your test is in the afternoon. If you do, you may feel tired just before you have to be at your best. Here is a list of some of the best brain food money can buy.
11. Know Exactly Where the Test Centre Is
Know exactly where you are going on the day of the test. If you’re not sure where it is, look for it on Google Maps. If it’s not clear even after using Maps, go there the day before if you can. I know it may be a bit inconvenient, but it is much better to be safe than sorry. Missing the exam because you couldn’t find the centre will be a lot more inconvenient.
12. Take Some Ear-Plugs With You
The test centre can be noisy. The British Council and/or IDP will do there best to make sure the centre is good for holding a test but quite often, the exams are held in hotels and it is not always possible to predict what will be happening elsewhere in the hotel. There is no point complaining about the noise if all you needed was a set of earplugs to fix the problem.
13. Wear Smart But Casual Clothing
One of the most over-looked IELTS test-taking tips is about clothes. You are not going to a party, a job interview, or a fashion show. Wear what you feel most comfortable in. But don’t go crazy. Shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops are not appropriate clothing. Smart but casual is the best idea. And take an extra sweater with you. Candidates often complain that the room is too cold because of the air conditioning. Complaining won’t make you warmer.
14. Take At Least Two Forms of ID
Take your passport and one other form of ID that is up-to-date. While most test centres will only ask for one, you never know your bad luck. If they ask for two types of ID (and you have two types), but you only brought one, you can’t complain. Prepare for every type of situation. Then you won’t risk not being able to sit the test.
15. Arrive at the Test Centre Early
If you have to wait, who cares? Just be patient. Better to be early than arrive late. I was teaching a student in Singapore the other day and told her to arrive early. She didn’t think it was necessary but I persuaded her to. She called me after the test to say that they had moved the test centre, but she hadn’t seen the email. If she had arrived at the normal time, she would have missed the test.
16. Answer the Multiple Choice Well
If you have no idea what the answer is, cross out the answers you know are wrong. Then guess one of the answers remaining. Don’t waste time trying to work out an answer if you don’t know it. Here’s a video to watch:
17. Work Consistently… Without Rushing
If you have practised enough, you will know exactly how much time you have for each section. One of the best IELTS test-taking tips I can give you is to keep calm, move through each part of the test without rushing or do not panic. If you get stuck, move on and come back to the question later. Or just guess the answer you think is right and move on immediately.
18. Stay Positive, No Matter What
Even if you think your test is a disaster, don’t give up. Try and keep a good attitude. If you think your last answer was wrong, and you can’t change it, forget about it. There is nothing you can do about it anyway. And anyway, many candidates think they are doing badly when they are not. The only time you’ll know exactly how you did in the exam is when you get your score.
19. Check Your Work… If You Have Time
There is not much evidence to suggest that trying to correct mistakes works. If you have written the past simple instead of the present perfect, the chances are you’re not going to see your mistake, especially if you’re not great at tenses in the first place. If I were you, I’d concentrate on spelling mistakes; they’re the easiest to spot.
20. Bonus – Follow All the Above IELTS Test-Taking Tips
I don’t think I need to say anything more here. Follow the above tips and you shouldn’t go to far wrong.
And there you have it. I think you’ll agree with me that these are some of the best IELTS test-taking tips that you have ever read. However, if you know of some others, drop them in the comments below. Thanks