ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country
The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

How to prepare for the IELTS test?

Choosing to study abroad will likely mean you need to demonstrate your English language abilities by way of an IELTS test score. We’ve got some tips on how best to prepare for your IELTS test.

share image

We’re sure that you’ve heard the saying “Preparation is the key to success”. There is much truth to this, and never more so than with an IELTS test. Accepted by over 10,000 organisations in 140 countries, getting your IELTS test preparation right can be critical to achieving the scores you need for a successful university application. That’s why we decided to put together this guide to explain how to prepare for IELTS. Let’s get started. 


Understand the IELTS test format 


An essential part of your preparation will be familiarising yourself with the format of the IELTS test. That way test there won’t be any surprises awaiting you on test day, and you can identify the content areas you want to focus on. 


Having a global view of the IELTS test format allows you to get a sense of how sections are related and interlinked. Further, you will have a better idea of the types of questions asked in an IELTS test and the associated tasks. Don’t forget to review the test regulations and rules, as these are key to understand for IELTS test day.


Remember that there are two types of IELTS tests, the academic test and the general training test. They both have the same listening and speaking sections but differ in the reading and writing sections. You’ll be doing the IELTS academic test, so make sure you prepare for this test version.


The test has four sections, namely listening, reading, writing and speaking. The first three are all taken in one go, while you can take the speaking component before or after the other sections. The IELTS test will take you two hours and 45 minutes to complete. Being aware of the time constraints is very important, so practice accordingly.


Get more details about the IELTS test format.


Develop your English language skills 


While it is important to prepare thoroughly for the IELTS test itself, this sole focus can mean that you neglect to develop and practice your English language skills. Getting yourself to the requisite level of proficiency is essential, particularly for the listening and speaking sections.


Some of the strategies that you can follow include making an effort to converse in English regularly, listening to English language media, and reading English news and texts. Try and see if you can match information and make the relevant connections as you go along so that you get a sense of arguments, opinions and purpose.


Another top tip is to start a vocabulary book where you note down words and phrases, both those that you know and those you want to check. This will help you in understanding how words are used in different contexts and identify them as parts of conversation and texts. It’s also a great way to improve your writing skills.


Now we know that it may not always be possible or practical to find someone to chat to in English. This doesn’t however prevent you from practising your English. Don’t be afraid to work through reading out loud, running through everyday conversations and taking the time to research areas of the language you don’t understand. It’s always a good option to try and find answers to the questions that you have and resolve them. This can prove very useful when it comes to taking your IELTS test.


Find out more about how IELTS stacks up against the TOEFL test.


Take the IELTS practice test  


Immersing yourself in the world IELTS will form a crucial part of your test preparation. An excellent way to get a sense of where you stand is to try some of the IELTS sample questions and then move to take the IELTS Progress Check practice test.


Using IELTS practice materials will allow you to compare your answers to the model answers and get a sense of how questions are evaluated. You’re able to get hold of IELTS sample questions for all sections, including audio files for the listening section.  


The IELTS Progress Check test is officially endorsed by IELTS and is available for USD 49.95 on the IELTS website. You have the option of taking a timed or untimed version of the test, as well as several test versions. The test is marked by IELTS examiners and you will receive extensive feedback, in the form of a test report. The report will give you a great sense of your potential IELTS band scores and indicates the areas in which you may need to focus your efforts before the big test day.


Get to grips with English language test scoring.


Enrol for a preparation course


You may feel that you would like to have professional support and training while preparing for your IELTS test. The good news is that this available in various forms. For example, you can register for an official IELTS preparation course through one of their test centres.


You also have the option of enrolling in a foundationpathway or pre-sessional programme at a college or university that has a specific focus on developing your English language proficiency. Most of these programmes will assist you to achieve the required IELTS test score for academic entry. Some of the key areas that you will focus on during a course of this nature are:


  • Academic writing
  • Speaking and conversation skills
  • Research skills
  • Presenting and public speaking skills
  • Collaborative group work and projects
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills


By adopting a thorough and dedicated approach to your IELTS test preparation you’ll be in good shape going into test day. While you are here, you can discover more about the English language requirements for some of the top university courses. You can also verify what you’ll need as an IELTS score by using our course matcher tool

Must read

article Img

Applying to university: Essential documents you need

You’ll learn as an international student, that nothing can be done unless you can successfully prove who you are. In countries where immigration policy and security are of utmost importance, this can be easier said than done, with long procedures involving lots of paperwork and waiting.   Originals vs. Copies However, you can make things a lot easier for yourself if you keep to hand a file containing the following important documentation. This

article Img

Understanding English language test scores

If you’ve been researching and investigating studying abroad you’ll know by now that being able to demonstrate your English language proficiency is an essential part of the application process if you intend to study at an English medium university. Universities require you to submit scores from approved English language tests to show that you can meet the criteria needed for academic study.   One thing that can prove tricky is understanding how the