How To Prepare For The IELTS: Tips and Strategies For Success


Studying at an overseas university is exciting, especially when it comes to studying at a UK university. The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the popular destinations for international students for higher studies. The British education and teaching system are globally recognized. The requirements of UK universities vary from university to university. Furthermore, often the requirements may vary depending on the department. Moreover, the universities set their requirements differently for various levels of course. Such as the requirements for master’s level is not the same as bachelor’s level.

The students need to meet the universities’ requirements for securing admission. The great thing about studying in the UK is that if you cannot secure your enrollment in one department you can go for another one. The UK universities offer a range of study options to suit international students at all levels. The international also need to fulfil the English language requirement of the university if English is not their first language. Mostly, foreign scholars sit for IELTS to demonstrate their English language skills.

What is IELTS

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) was founded by the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and IDP in 1989. The score of this test is accepted by a range of academic institutions in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. There are 1200 IELTS testing centres in all 140 countries. Tests are offered 4 times a month which means 48 times in a year. Generally, IELTS costs around $225, although the price can be varied depending on the location of the test centre.

Although IELTS is a paper-based test in some nations, applicants can sit for a computer-based test because of the ongoing pandemic. Participants need to respond to a range of different questions. Such as short answers, filling in the gaps, and essay tasks. The duration of the IELTS test is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes. However, the speaking test takes place on a different day.

IELTS is a globally recognized English proficiency test. The universities, immigration authorities, governmental organizations, and employers from the UK, US, Canada, Australia accept the score of this test. Different universities require a different score of IELTS from international students. Also, this score depends on the department and level of study.

Classification of IELTS

The IELTS exam has been distributed into four different sections. As linguists believe one has to earn four skills to learn or acquire a language. The four sections of IELTS are:

  1. IELTS Reading: IELTS reading is an important skill where students have to prove their reading proficiency along with their patience level. This section has been designed to assess the various surface of reading skills. Such as understanding the main ideas after reading a passage, summarization, recognizing the authors’ point of view, opinion. There will be 40 questions that need to complete within 60 minutes.

In addition, students will find three long and detailed passages in the reading section. Generally, these passages have been taken from multiple sources that range from academic texts and published news and articles in newspapers, magazines, or academic journals. Furthermore, since academic IELTS is only for prospective students these passages maintain the university level difficulty. Some strategies for the IELTS reading test are:

  • Get to Familiar with the Reading Question: In the IELTS reading test, there are approximately 14 types of questions the students will get. Some question types have answers that come in order and others do not. So, if the students can familiar with the questions before sitting for the exam, they can score well on the test.
  • Skimming and Scanning: Students should have a clear idea regarding skimming and scanning to get a good score on the IELTS test. Skimming is reading a passage to get a general idea of the passage. On the other hand, scanning is one’s ability to locate information quickly and has no relation to comprehension of the passage.
  • Don’t Try to Get the Full Content: In the test centre, students need to find out the answers only not to understand the whole passage. Only two types of questions (matching heading, choosing a title) might need some details.
  • Increase Vocabulary Skills: It is one of the prime reasons students cannot get a high score in the reading section. Moreover, students need to understand learning vocabulary is not just memorizing some new words. The learners need to learn where and how to use those words.
  • Identify Your Weaknesses: If students cannot locate their weaknesses, they won’t be able to improve them. So, students should spend time reviewing their performance.
  1. IELTS Listening: IELTS listening is classified into four different sections. Each section has 10 questions. This test takes around 30 minutes to complete and with each section, the students will discover tougher questions. Also, students will get extra 10 minutes to shift their answers on the answer sheet. Some strategies for the IELTS listening test are:
  2. Listen to the Recording Carefully: During the test, the students will be able to listen to the recording only once. There won’t be any second chance. As a result, students must practice completing a full listening test by listening only once. However, when students are developing their skills and vocabulary they might need to listen more than once and it is completely okay during the practice session. 
  3. Practice Multitask: In the listening test, students need to read the questions, listen to the answers, and write down those on paper at the same time.
  4. Increase Guessing Power: There is a high possibility that students might not understand the recording clearly. In that case, they need to guess the answer. Moreover, students must not keep any blank box rather they need to guess the word and write that in the box.
  5. IELTS Writing: The writing section of IELTS assesses students’ ability to respond to the given piece of work with accuracy, grammatical sense. The crucial part of this section is to present your thoughts, responses, and ability to understand the task. Students will get 60 minutes to write to different writing genres. Some strategies for the IELTS writing test are:
  6. IELTS writing task 1: It complies with only 33% of total writing scores. Students will be marked on the basis of their task achievement (25%), coherence and cohesion (25%), vocabulary (25%), and grammar (25%)
  7. IELTS writing task 2: It complies with 66% of total writing scores. Students will have to write an academic/ formal essay in this task. Some common types of essays are opinion, discussion, advantages and disadvantages, argumentative, etc.
  8. Brainstorm: After reading the title the students’ minds might be buzzing with thousands of thoughts. In that time, they should take 5 minutes to make their minds relax and to brainstorm their ideas.
  9. IELTS Speaking: IELTS speaking has been distributed into three different sections. The interviewer analyzes the speaking proficiency in all three parts. The interviewer will assess the applicant on the basis of their fluency, grammar, vocabulary, and coherence. The three phases of the IELTS speaking test are:
  10. Phase 1: At the very beginning the examiner will introduce himself/ herself and expect you to do the same. After that, the examiner will ask some basic questions to warm you up. The topics can be regarding your home, family, work, education,
  11. Phase 2: The examiner will give you a task card and you’ll have to speak on the topic written on the card. You’ll have to speak for 1 to 2 minutes on this topic. Before speaking you’ll also get 1 minute as preparation time.
  12. Phase 3: The third phase will last for 3-4 minutes. Here, the examiner will ask some additional questions related to phase 2. These questions are meant to allow you to talk about the questions more abstractly.

In the end, IELTS does not have any official marks just like most standardized tests. You’ll be scored based on your skills and proficiency level from Band1 to Band 9.