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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TopTips
Simple ways to study for IELTS at home

Maybe your IELTS classes have had to stop or perhaps you have decided that you are going to prepare for IELTS by yourself, whatever your reason for studying at home the team at We Love IELTS is here to help! This article has a list of simple things that you can do from home to get ready for your IELTS test. 1. Take some time to learn all about the IELTS test Download the Official Guide for Candidates and make sure you read through carefully. Find out more about each skills: Reading Writing Listening Speaking 2. Test yourself with practice questions Alternate between doing timed practices and allowing yourself as long as you need to really understand the questions and texts. If you have any of the IELTS Authentic Practice Tests, there are model answers and examiner comments to help you analyse your own work. If you don’t have access to the Cambridge IELTS practice tests series don’t worry, you can find official IELTS sample test questions on the IELTS website. 3. Record yourself doing an IELTS Speaking test If you have a friend who can practise with you, either at home or online, why not take turns being the examiner and the candidate. Listen back and evaluate your own performance. You could also try to note down everything you said, like a transcript, this will help you to identify any mistakes that you made. If you want to understand the IELTS Speaking test do read my blog post . You can find lots of help and advice on the IELTS Speaking test in the Speaking section of the website https://weloveielts.cambridge.org/PrepareForIELTS/speaking. There are blog posts, podcasts, videos and worksheets all giving help and advice about the Speaking test. 4. Do some online IELTS training Even if you have no intention of taking a IELTS on computer there are some really helpful practice materials available on the internet. The test is the same whether you take it on a computer or on paper so these activities will be useful to you. Perhaps you will decide that you would actually prefer to take your IELTS test on a computer. Testbank-i is our official online practice test for IELTS, it's the perfect preparation for computer-delivered IELTS. Try in ‘Practice Mode’ multiple times with tips, feedback and answers. Then try in ‘Test Mode’ to see how you perform in exam-like conditions. Use code “PROMOIELTS” for 30% discount.ACADEMIC | GENERAL TRAINING 5. Check your bookshelf Have a look on your bookshelves and see what old textbooks you have. Now might be the perfect time to finally work through that grammar book you got when you were 16 and didn’t ever complete! If you have test preparation materials then why not do the questions. You can often find a lot of unfinished activities that you can complete. You can even look back and assess your own answers for previously completed tasks. Rewrite answers making improvements, listen to recordings again and use them as a source of vocabulary and grammar examples. Look for reading texts to revisit. Even if you’ve already completed the reading comprehension task, the text itself is a really valuable resource which will be full of vocabulary that you can learn. 6. Join in as much as you can online Write comments, answer and ask questions, do tasks and get feedback or just feel like part of a wider community of learners. You may even find some new friends along the way. Follow We Love IELTS on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel. There are daily posts with tips and activities that you can join in with. Share your answers to quizzes and activities, have a go at test style activities and ask us questions. 7. Keep your general English level up Do some fun stuff and don’t just focus on IELTS. If you want some ideas of what you could be doing, check out my blog post about ways to work on your general English at home. 8. The Academic Wordlist Do you want to learn the vocabulary that comes up most often in academic texts? THen you need to know about the academic word list. The academic word list was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. It contains 570 word families which were selected because they appear with great frequency in a broad range of academic texts. Here is a great free resource that you can use to learn these important words quickly and effectively. 9. Sign up to our newsletter We’re working hard to make great content for you and the best way to find out about what we’re doing is to sign up for our newsletter. Keep checking this website for new blog posts and other materials. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page as well as our Instagram and YouTube channels so that you don’t miss any updates. 10. Stay positive Last but not least, stay strong and stay positive. Pete has some great ideas to stay motivated here https://weloveielts.cambridge.org/blog/how-to-stay-motivated and Sophie teaches you how to make a motivational goals board here: https://weloveielts.cambridge.org/blog/creating-a-motivational-goals-board. Watch my Facebook Live on how to maintain or even improve your English:   Bye for now, Emma

Emma Cosgrave

14 December, 2021

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TopTips
New Year’s Resolutions

Happy new year! At this time of year most of us are looking to the future. As one year ends and another begins, it is good to take stock (= examine a situation), look back at what you've achieved and look forward to what you would like to achieve in the coming year. In many cultures people make resolutions (= promises to themselves) about how they are going to do things differently. Have you made any resolutions for 2022? A simple question - you can answer yes or no - but how do you then go on to talk about the resolutions that you have made? Let me help you out … The grammar that we use to talk about resolutions is quite straightforward. Hurray! Resolutions are plans that we have made, the decisions have already been made by the time we are talking about them. So, the best structures to use are: Be + going to + verb I’m going to quit smoking. I’m going to do more exercise. I’m going to take my IELTS test.  My resolution(s) is/are + infinitive My resolution is to lose weight. My New Year’s resolutions are to speak English every day and keep a vocabulary notebook. As well as using these structures there are some really great phrasal verbs that we can use to talk about resolutions. PHRASAL VERB MEANING Take up (something) start a new hobby or activity Get back into (something) start doing an old hobby again Give up (something) stop doing something completely Cut down on (something) reduce your consumption or use of something Save up for (something) save money regularly towards buying something Can you make any sentences using these phrasal verbs that are true for you? Here are some examples: I’m going to take up painting in 2021, there is a class I can join online. My resolution is to save up for a new car, it will take all year, but I am determined to do it! I’m going to get back into karate, I used to do it as a kid. Last but not least, I'm going to cut down on sugar and caffeine in 2022 to be healthier. It takes a lot of determination and willpower (=the ability to do things you don’t want to do, or not do things you do want to do) to stick to your resolutions. Make sure that the goals you are setting yourself are realistic so that you don’t end up feeling demotivated by the end of January. If you want to take your IELTS preparation to the next level, here are a few ideas of things you can do in 2022: Subscribe to the We love IELTS Newsletter and receive all the latest information and links in your inbox. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get daily tips, activities and information on IELTS. Subscribe to the We Love IELTS YouTube channel and watch the videos our fantastic experts are making for you. Listen to the We Love IELTS podcasts and learn about IELTS whilst doing some listening practice. Good luck in 2022, I hope you achieve all of your IELTS goals! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

29 November, 2021

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TopTips
How long will it take you to get the IELTS band score you need?

I’m sure you’d really like to know how long you need to prepare for IELTS and get the band score you need. You may be wondering if one month is enough time to prepare or whether you need longer. You may have already booked your test or are wondering when you should. You may want to start planning life after IELTS and need to know when that will be. For all of these reasons, I would love to give you a simple answer, but the truth is there isn’t one because there are so many different factors that affect how quickly you can improve to the level you need. (Click image to enlarge) So, how can you get a better idea of how much time you need? The answer is to look at examples of how long it takes other people, and to find the ones that are most similar to you and your situation. If you’re taking an IELTS preparation or English language course at a school or university ... (Click image to enlarge) The two studies also show that the people who tend to make the biggest improvements in that time are those who start at a lower level (below 5.5), who study for more hours (over 23 a week), and who are more motivated. One student, for example, studied for around 60 hours a week for three months and improved their band score by 1.0. Conversely, another student didn’t enjoy their course, was very anxious about the IELTS test, and subsequently showed no improvement in their score at all. The first study was of Korean students enrolled in IELTS preparation classes in Korea. The second study was of students from different non English-speaking backgrounds taking intensive English language courses in Australia and New Zealand. Do you think you’re going to improve faster or slower than the average rate? If you’re preparing for IELTS independently ... You could base your preparation time on how long it takes other people you know (e.g. family members, friends or colleagues) or on success stories you see online. (Click image to enlarge) This is particularly true for success stories you read online like ‘How I got an IELTS band score 8 in one week’. When someone claims to have got a really high score in a short space of time, it’s probably not the whole truth or they were already at or above that level and only needed to become familiar with the test. You also need to check whether the band score that a person refers to is the Overall band score or for an individual skill (i.e. listening, reading, writing or speaking). Here’s a real example of a person’s progress with as many details as possible for you to compare to your own characteristics and situation. (Click image to enlarge) When you find an example or examples you share a lot of characteristics with, then you can use the example(s) as a guide for how long it may take you. (Click image to enlarge) So, the studies and examples above will hopefully have given you a better idea of how long it might take you to get the band score you need. The next step is for you to do what you can to improve as quickly as possible by ... Making time for your IELTS preparation and getting help if you need it Staying motivated and focused during your IELTS preparation  Understanding your strengths and weaknesses Understanding how you prefer to learn  Managing your anxiety about the IELTS test  Using materials at the right level for you  Good luck! Pete

Pete Jones

3 November, 2021

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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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