How to Prepare for IELTS Exam | 5 expert tips

Going to study or work abroad can be a daunting idea for many. It brings as much excitement and hope for new beginnings as it brings uncertainties about facing a new culture. One of the greatest fears people have is not being able to communicate with the people they will meet. Having a good IELTS score can help you do away with anxieties about linguistic barriers because your English skills improve by a large amount as you prepare for this test. Here are 5 proven tips on how to prepare for the IELTS exam so that you can travel abroad with ease.

Let’s go over them one by one so that you are left with a robust study strategy by the time we’re done!

1. What is the IELTS exam?

  • It is crucial to understand what the IELTS is and how it became such an essential international-level examination for aspirants seeking to study or work in English-speaking countries.
  • IELTS is the abbreviation for the International English Language Testing System exam. It is an exam that you need to pass to qualify to study, work, or even migrate to a country with English as the native language. This exam is administered jointly by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. 
  • For those who wish to know how to prepare for IELTS exam at home, it is essential to understand the four levels of testing.
  • In the IELTS exam, there are four testing levels: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. You will be tested on all these aspects of English and scored in a ‘Band’ system.
  • The scoring band starts from 0 (which means you have not attempted the exam) and goes up to 9 (which means you have excellent proficiency and command over English).

2. What is a good IELTS score?

  • According to the British Council, a good IELTS score is between Band 7 and Band 9. The British Council has also provided a detailed chart that correlates your English proficiency with your IELTS score band.
  • Moreover, they also provide a comparative chart that allows you to compare your IELTS score band with the grading criteria of the Common European Framework (CEFR). Based on this comparison, a score between Band 7 and 9 of the IELTS can fetch you a grade of C1 or C2 in the CEFR.
  • Hence, if you know how to prepare for IELTS exam properly, you are more likely to receive a score between Band 7 and Band 9, making you eligible for admission into many of the esteemed colleges in the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia.

3. Study plan for IELTS exam

The IELTS exams can be key to opening up academic and career opportunities for you in countries abroad, and to master it, you will need a well-structured study plan. Here’s a carefully prepared 4-step study plan that can help you achieve a score between Bands 7 and 9 in the IELTS-

Step 1: Know where you stand

  • The first step to achieving any goal is to set your target. You first need to know where you currently stand to set a target.
  • Since the IELTS tests your English reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, you need to do a self-evaluation of your skills in these categories.
  • At first, you needn’t worry about how long it takes to prepare for IELTS exam. Instead, focus on understanding your level of English competency.
  • There are several online testing and evaluation tools that you can use to know where you stand in terms of English proficiency. 

Step 2: Work on your deficiencies

  • Once you have identified the areas you excel at and the ones you require improvement in, it is time to begin working on your deficiencies.
  • You can improve your written English by maintaining a daily journal of events where you pen down everything in English. Then get this checked by a friend who is a native English speaker or even by a coach or guide. You can also self-assess by taking notes from books on English grammar.
  • Similarly, there are ways to work on your English reading, speaking, and listening skills as well. If you’re worried about preparing for IELTS speaking, you can start speaking English more often with your friends and family. You even listen to podcasts in English and watch English movies.

Step 3: Practice IELTS questions 

  • While all the activities mentioned above can help you improve your English, it is always better to build strong foundations. Hence, you will have to refer to English grammar books and start developing an in-depth knowledge of the practical usage of the English language.
  • Once you feel ready, you can then start solving a few of the IELTS questions. It is best to solve some of the objective-type questions in the IELTS’ Academic Reading’ and ‘General Training Reading’ sections.
  • You can also attempt practice questions from the ‘Academic Writing’ and ‘General Training Writing’ sections. Doing these will allow you to develop a good grasp of the pattern of questioning.

Step 4: Take mock IELTS tests

  • If you are wondering how to prepare for IELTS exam at home in a sure-shot way, then this final step is of utmost importance.
  • Taking mock tests is pretty important because the IELTS exam is about answering questions while also managing time.
  • Therefore, giving mock IELTS tests is an excellent way to time your efforts so that you can complete the actual exam within the stipulated time. 

Sample papers and previous years papers

  • Apart from mock tests, you can also obtain sample question papers and previous years’ papers for ‘Academic Reading,’ ‘General Training Reading,’ ‘Academic Writing,’ and ‘General Training Writing,’ These will help you stay up to date with the most commonly asked questions.
  • Coupled with your fundamental knowledge of English and advanced preparation for IELTS, these previous years’ papers can indeed boost your self-confidence, which is an integral part of sitting for the IELTS exams. 
  • If you are looking for tips on how to self-prepare for IELTS, then acquiring these samples and previous years’ papers is one of the many tips you should follow. These papers are available in online repositories, physical libraries, or bookstores.
  • However, if you are preparing for IELTS at an institute or coaching centre, you’re in luck, because your institute will provide you with all the sample papers and previous years’ papers you need!

Relax and de-stress before the exam

 Amidst all the focus on scoring between Band 7 and 8, you might forget to relax and let your mind unwind. This will rejuvenate you mentally and help you think with a clear mind during the actual exams.

 If you want to know how to self-prepare for IELTS in the best way possible, you should understand that this last step is one of the most important. Without a teacher or coach to guide you through your preparation, you may forget to relax. 

 So, make sure to take some time off the books and watch an English movie or two. This way, you will find a way to relax and stay in touch with spoken English. Using such a holistic and wholesome learning strategy, you are sure to score high in the IELTS.

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