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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Are you feeling anxious about your IELTS test?

Feeling nervous before taking a test like IELTS is very natural. Many students worry about getting the score they need, if they have enough time to prepare, or if they can meet the expectations of someone else (e.g. a parent). You may really want to get a high score to start a university course, get a better job or move to another country. Feeling anxious can be positive; it can keep you motivated and focused on your goal. However, if you’re feeling very anxious or you don’t know how to manage your worry and nerves, it can affect how well you can prepare and how well you do in the test itself. So, if you’re worried about how anxious you are, read on… Are you too anxious about the test? If you’re feeling some or all of the following, then your anxiety about the IELTS test is probably having a negative effect on your preparation and will probably affect your performance on test day. (Click to enlarge) Constant worry and negative thoughts, for example, can prevent you from concentrating on or completing study exercises or test questions. Not being able to do tasks that require deep thinking (e.g. categorising vocabulary) will limit what you can learn and remember. Low self-belief may result in you deciding not to take an IELTS test at all! So, if you’re experiencing any of these, here’s what you can do to feel less anxious. How to manage test anxiety The good news is there’s lots you can do to manage your test anxiety before and during the IELTS test. While you’re preparing for IELTS, you can… become familiar with the format of the IELTS test so you know what to expect when you take the test learn strategies for how best to approach different question types and how to overcome problems (e.g. if you’re asked a difficult question in the IELTS Speaking test, ask the examiner to repeat the question to give yourself some thinking time) learn in ways that you prefer, e.g. on your own or with others replace negative thoughts like ‘I’m never going to get the score I need’ with positive ones like ‘I can do this. I’m putting effort into my preparation. I’m improving’ understand what’s making you most anxious and look for ways to turn that into a positive experience, e.g. if you’re worried about not having enough time to prepare, adjust your goal or schedule so that you have more time use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to music, taking a walk or doing activities you enjoy make time to eat well, sleep well and see friends reflect on why a previous test experience didn’t go well and what you can do differently this time During the test, you can… replace negative thoughts like ‘I’m going to fail’ with positive ones like ‘I can do this. I prepared well. I know what I have to do’ focus on what you’re doing not what others in the test room are doing use the strategies you have learned to answer questions and overcome problems, e.g. if you didn’t hear a question the examiner asks you in the IELTS Speaking test, ask them to repeat it manage your time, e.g. only spend a maximum of 20 minutes on the first IELTS Reading section/passage before moving on to the next one If you do all of these, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of approaching the IELTS test with confidence and performing your best on the day. Get your anxiety to a manageable level and then use it to stay motivated and focused on your preparation! Listen to my podcast episode on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test:   Pete

Pete Jones

11 January, 2021

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 have 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 2021? 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. 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. My other resolution is to not be lazy in my studies. I am going to push myself to improve my English. Listen to Richard talking about his new year’s resolutions. Can you hear any of the structures that we have talked about? How about the phrasal verbs? What are his three resolutions for 2021?   Download Tapescript 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 2021: 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 2021, I hope you achieve all of your IELTS goals! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

20 December, 2020

A year of We Love IELTS - IELTS Experts' Top Picks

As you know, our IELTS experts are a really important part of the We Love IELTS team and one of the main reasons we can deliver high quality content to help your IELTS preparation. We've asked our writers what their top picks are from over 100 blogs posted this year.   (P.S. These are a great place to start if you are new to We Love IELTS!)         Let us know what your favourite blog post has been on Instagram or Facebook. We'd love to hear from you. The We Love IELTS Team


19 December, 2020

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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