IELTS Top Tips

We Love IELTS is full of top tips to help you prepare for your IELTS test!

These tips are taken from our range of Top Tips for IELTS books, as well as our We Love IELTS experts who have an extensive range of experience in teaching, examining and mentoring IELTS test takers. We’ve also collected tips from students like you who’ve taken the test and achieved their goal.

Below you’ll find some of our top tips for each of the four IELTS skills, as well as blogs, videos, activities, books and other resources.

For more top tips, take a look at our Top Tips for IELTS General Training  and Top Tips for IELTS Academic books.

1. Read the instructions carefully, and make sure you follow them, especially regarding the maximum number of words.

2. Make sure you give the text a quick read through so you’re familiar with the topic and how it’s developed in the text, but don’t worry if you don’t understand every word.

3. You can write on the question paper, but you must copy your answers onto the answer sheet within the 60 minutes, so allow time to do that. You could save time by writing your answers directly onto the answer sheet.

4. Where you have to write words, check the spelling carefully (the word or words will always be in the text) and make sure you don’t write more than the maximum word limit.

1. Before you start writing, plan what you’re going to say. Make sure you’re going to answer the question, rather than writing something irrelevant or too general – there isn’t time for this in the test.

2. Make sure you use a range of vocabulary that demonstrates your knowledge of English.

3. Check that you have written enough words. When you practise writing, count the number of words you’ve written so you have a good idea of what 150 or 250 words look like in your handwriting.

4. Check your work for any mistakes you tend to make, e.g. leaving out articles. Know your own typical mistakes and check your work carefully for them.

1. You only hear the recordings once – so write the answers as you listen.

2. Listen carefully to the introduction for each section and try to imagine what the speakers will talk about. This will give you useful information about the situation and the speakers.

3. The questions will always follow the order of the recording. Don’t panic if you miss one question – look ahead and think about the next one.

4. It’s useful to underline key words in the question to help you focus on the words (or similar words) to listen for.

1. Spend time before the test speaking and listening or reading in English rather than in your own language so you’re ‘thinking in English’ when you go into the examination room.

2. Smile and relax – the more you smile the more relaxed you will feel.

3. Don’t speak too fast because it can be difficult to follow. Don’t speak too slowly as you won’t have the chance to say very much.

4. Try to use a wide range of grammar and vocabulary during the test. The examiner can only award you marks for the language you produce.

Top tips for IELTS – what to do in the run up to your test

If you’re wondering what to do in the run up to your test, follow Emma’s advice to ensure you make the most of your time in the precious few days leading up to exam day.

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Word families: learn one new word and ‘meet' two more

‘My vocabulary is not very good.’ ‘I don’t know many words in English.’ Does this sound familiar? Do you feel the same? Would you like to expand your vocabulary? Did you know that words have families too? Words are related to other words – a bit like a cousin.    Listening Practice: Listen to Liz share how to learn one new word and 'meet' two more.     Let's start with the word 'communicate' - this is a verb. Here it is in a sentence: It is difficult to communicate in a foreign language. Now let’s start the sentence with the noun from the same family: Communication in a foreign language is difficult.  The adjective is ‘communicative’; here’s the same sentence: It is difficult to be communicative in a foreign language.   When you learn a new word, it is a good idea to learn how to form the noun, verb and adjective if there is one. This way you’ll start to learn vocabulary not one word at a time, but in threes! To make nouns, verbs and adjectives, you need to add ‘suffixes’ to the end of a word. A suffix is a letter, or group of letters, that can be added to the end of a word to form a new word. Let’s look again at the words above. Verb – communicate. We add the suffix 'ate' to make some verbs. Here are some examples: translate, create, celebrate, participate. Noun – communication. We add the suffix 'tion' to make some nouns. Here are some examples: translation, creation, celebration and participation. Adjective – communicative. We add the suffix 'tive' to make some adjectives. Here are some examples: informative, creative, attentive. When you can make different forms of words then you can use them to express the same or similar ideas in different ways (as in the ‘communicate’ sentences above). Here are some more examples: Example 1: I am going to graduate next month. My graduation is next month. There is no adjective that can be made from ‘graduate.’   Example 2: It is important to collaborate with your team. Collaboration with your team is important. It is important to be collaborative when you’re working in a team.   Expanding your vocabulary will help you in all parts of the IELTS test. Using different forms of words shows you have a range of vocabulary and grammar. It’s also a good way to avoid repeating the same words, especially in the Writing and Speaking tests. Why not practise today? Choose one of the words below and write two sentences - one sentence using a verb, the other using a noun or an adjective. inform decorate imagine protect circulate compensate attract   It’s important to say there are more suffixes which have not been mentioned here. I'd recommend further practice from Vocabulary for IELTS (Unit 21). We’ll be covering more suffixes in later blogs so please come back for more. Liz

Liz Marqueiro

19 March, 2021

What is computer-delivered IELTS?

When you book your IELTS test you may have to choose whether to do the test on a computer or on paper. Today I am going to answer some of the questions I am asked most often about the computer-delivered IELTS. 1. Is the computer-delivered IELTS test different to the paper-based IELTS test? The simple answer to this question is NO. The content of the computer-delivered test is exactly the same as paper-based IELTS, and the skills you need to complete the tasks are identical. However, typing your answers on a computer rather than writing them on paper means that things like making corrections, taking notes, highlighting text and keywords etc. are a little different. In the computer-delivered IELTS you read the questions, read texts on a screen and input your answers on the computer. You will not need to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. Just like in the paper-based test, in the computer-delivered test the Listening, Reading and Writing sections are all completed on the same day. In the computer-delivered IELTS the Speaking Test is face-to-face, just like the paper-based test. It usually happens on the same day as the other sections of the test but, it can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. You will be told by the test centre what the arrangements are. So, to summarise the test content, the question types and scoring are all exactly the same. The only minor difference is in the timing of the IELTS Listening Test as you do not need to transfer your answers at the end of the test. 2. Can I take the IELTS test in my home? No you cannot. All IELTS tests happen in an IELTS test centre. This is to ensure that the test is secure and fair for all candidates. 3. Can I use my own laptop for the IELTS test? No you are not allowed to use your own laptop. To ensure that the test is secure and fair for all, you will take the test on a desktop computer in an IELTS test centre.   4. How can I prepare for the computer-delivered test? You can use exactly the same preparation material for both the computer-delivered and paper-based IELTS. The most important step is to get a good self-study book that has information about all parts of the test. Choose a book that covers the IELTS test that you are taking: Academic or General Paper. Use the Resource Finder to help you find the best self-study book for you. You can also use any of the preparation material on the We Love IELTS website along with our Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel of course! You can also subscribe to our Newsletter so that you don’t miss any new resources. Here are some steps you can take when preparing for the computer-delivered IELTS are: Get a good self-study book that covers all parts of the IELTS test you are preparing for. Make sure you understand what you will be asked to do in each section of the test. Remember the Writing Section and Reading Section is different in the Academic IELTS Test and General Paper IELTS Test. Get a feel for what the computer-delivered IELTS is like with IELTS Intelligence or this YouTube playlist from IELTS Official. Get lots of practise typing quickly and accurately (without relying on any software to check your spelling and grammar). Use past test questions and type your answers on your computer, time yourself so that you know how quickly you need to type. Take an online familiarisation test so that you know what all the options in the computer-delivered IELTS test are. Pay particular attention to how you make notes, highlight words, move through the questions and record your answers. 5. Which test should I take? This comes down to personal choice. You may be used to taking exams on paper from other exam situations you have experienced, whereas other people might feel more comfortable typing or have more experience taking tests on a computer. Whichever format you choose, make sure you get lots of practice writing quickly! You need to have legible handwriting or be able to type quickly and accurately. You can go back and correct any mistakes but there is no spell-check tool on the computer! An advantage of opting for the computer-delivered IELTS is that there are more test dates available, so you may be able to choose a more convenient time to take the test. Another advantage of the computer-delivered test is that you get your results quicker, usually within 3-5 days! I hope that this blog post has answered some of your questions. If you have more questions about IELTS you can look at the FAQs page here on the website or send us a direct message on Facebook or Instagram. Good luck in the test! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

9 March, 2021

Birthday vocabulary

We Love IELTS is officially a year old today and to celebrate our first birthday I'd like to help you learn some vocabulary on the topic of birthdays and milestones. So, whether you're 18, 80 or anywhere in between, read on for some vocabulary related to these special occasions and for some common mistakes to avoid. Even if you don’t celebrate birthdays yourself, it’s still important to be able to talk about this topic in case you have to in your IELTS Speaking test! Birthdays When you think about the word ‘birthday’, which other words come to mind? The first words to come to my mind are birthday cards, birthday cakes, birthday parties, and birthday presents.   These pairs of words are examples of words that are often used together in English (i.e. collocations), and if you remember them as combinations of words (e.g. ‘birthday presents’) rather than separate, individual words (‘birthday’ and ‘presents’), you’ll be able to use them more fluently when you speak. Whenever I think of birthdays, I also think about getting one year older and one year nearer my next milestone birthday – a milestone or landmark birthday is a special birthday such as your 18th, 21st, 30th, or 40th. Are there any birthdays that are particularly special in your culture? A common mistake when describing your age Which of the following are correct ways for someone to describe his/her age and which are mistakes? I have 20 years old I’m 20 years old I have 20 years I’m 20 Think carefully as you could choose the wrong answers if you translate directly from your first language. You may be surprised at how many English language learners use the wrong grammar to say how old they are! You can check the answers at the end of this post. (You could also check the grammar I used above to describe how old We Love IELTS is). Milestones One meaning of the word ‘milestone’ is a very important event or stage in someone’s life. Which of these milestones have you reached?   Remember, personalising vocabulary like this (i.e. connecting new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions) is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS. For other meanings of the word ‘milestone’, check out the entry in the Cambridge online dictionary here. A useful phrasal verb With any important milestone, there’s usually some excitement about reaching it, e.g. I’m sure you are (or were) excited about going abroad for the first time. To see how to use (and not to use) the phrasal verb ‘look forward to’ to describe this excitement, check out this video of 30-second IELTS.   At 1, We Love IELTS has reached an important milestone, and we’re looking forward to continuing to help you prepare for IELTS over the next year. Pete P.S. The correct ways for someone to describe their age are 2) I’m 20 years old, and 4) I’m 20. Answers 1 and 3 are mistakes.

Pete Jones

26 February, 2021

Episode 9: How to manage IELTS test anxiety

In this first episode of our second series, IELTS expert Pete Jones shares some tips on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test to help you make the most of your preparation time and perform better in the test.

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Episode 5: Top tips for IELTS Writing

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz give some top tips on the IELTS Writing Test.

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Episode 4: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 3

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test.

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