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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Top 3 strategies from a successful IELTS candidate

What are the best strategies to get the IELTS band score you need? What do a sloth and an ant have to do with IELTS? Is it a good idea to study with another IELTS candidate? These are some of the questions I am going to answer today. In 2011 I was an IELTS candidate, just like you. Although I didn’t really need to sit the exam for any particular purpose, I was very determined to get a high score…and I did it! These are some strategies I used that really made a difference for me. Build self-discipline: be aware of the sloth! You come home from work or school and you’re tired. The last thing you feel like doing is studying vocabulary to describe bar charts for Academic Writing Task 1, even though you know this is what you should be doing as this is an area you need to improve. You have two options: You don’t do it. You’ve already worked very hard today. You decide to do a much more relaxing and enjoyable activity such as watching your favourite TV series. You relax for ten/fifteen minutes, gather your energy, have a shower and then start working on those expressions.   Guess which option I would always go for? OK, there are times when you’re really exhausted. You won’t learn very much so it’s better to leave your studies aside. This shouldn’t happen too often, though. I’ve always thought that there are two animals living in our brain: a sloth, the lazy one, and an ant, the hard-working one. It’s extremely easy to join the sloth as it makes you do easy, fun and pleasurable things. But joining the sloth doesn’t give you any rewards in return.   The ant, on the other hand, is the one that will make you sweat and work hard, but has a great prize for you in the end. You definitely want to collaborate with the ant to pass the exam, so be careful not to spend too much time with the sloth in your brain! Focus on what you’re not good at first I learned this from my drum teacher. He used to tell me, ‘You should practise and work at things you have difficulties with, not the ones you’re already good at. That’s how you will improve your drumming’. This is also valid when preparing for IELTS. It’s easy to do things we’re already good at, but problems begin when you have to do those you’re not comfortable with. It was writing for me. What is it for you? Look at the picture below. Those are all the writing tasks I did in preparation for the exam.   For various reasons, I had a lot of trouble finishing Task 2 in forty minutes. This was a specific weakness I had, so I needed to improve on this. To solve a specific problem, you need a specific solution and, in my case, this was to practise writing Task 2 essays using a stopwatch. I would start writing and, after forty minutes, I would stop, no matter if I had finished or not. I then counted the words and recorded the number in my notebook. I did the same thing using a lot of other Task 2 questions and the number of words slowly started to increase. I improved, and the more I improved, the better I felt. On the day of the exam, I was confident I would complete Task 2 in time. And so I did. So, ask yourself what you’re not so good at and be as specific as possible in your answer. If you find a specific problem, it’ll be easier to find the right solutions for it. Then make your weakness your priority. Practise with another candidate Practising and studying with another IELTS candidate has a lot of benefits. You can learn from your mistakes, share problems and give advice to each other. It’s also a way to reflect and discuss what you find problematic about the exam. I used to meet with one of my classmates just to practise the speaking part of the exam. He would take the role of the examiner and interview me with a stopwatch. We then swapped roles. We recorded the interview on our smartphones and then commented on our performance. It was fun and we learned a lot from each other. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can easily find a candidate on social media (better if they don’t speak your language). A problem shared is a problem halved, right? These were my top strategies I used as an IELTS candidate. They worked for me but they might not work for you. There’s only one way to find out: try them! Fabio

Fabio Cerpelloni

21 April, 2021

All the vocabulary and grammar you need for IELTS success

We're excited to share three new editions of our popular IELTS books focussing on Grammar and Vocabulary. Whatever your target band score - we have the product for you! The new editions include: IELTS-style exercises Regular progress checks Tips on how to avoid typical errors   Want to see more? Our writing team have created a range of blogs using IELTS Vocabulary Up to Band 6, you can find a selection below: How to improve your vocabulary using collocations Common Mistakes: -ed or -ing for adjectives describing feelings How to improve your vocabulary around education 5 ways to improve your spelling What is British English? Words, words, words – here’s a challenge for you   Want to see more? Our writing team have created a range of blogs using IELTS Vocabulary for Bands 6.5 and above, you can find a selection below: Three ways to remember vocabulary for your IELTS test Talking about your hometown How to improve your vocabulary around personality How to improve your vocabulary around technology How to improve your vocabulary around energy IELTS Speaking Game: Don't Say It! Word families: learn one new word and ‘meet' two more   Want to see more? Our writing team have created a range of blogs using IELTS Grammar for Bands 6.5 and above, you can find a selection below: Grammar: What is future tense? Grammar Essentials: The Definite Article Grammar Essentials: past simple versus present perfect Grammar Essentials: What is the passive voice? Grammar Essentials: Subject and Verb Agreement Describing processes in IELTS Writing Part 1 Essential Grammar in IELTS Speaking How to get a better score for grammar If you have any topic ideas for future blogs that you would like us to cover using exercises from these books, do let us know on Facebook or Instagram. Please do let us know if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you! We Love IELTS Team


19 April, 2021

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 IELTS Vocabulary up to Band 6 (Unit 21). We’ll be covering more suffixes in later blogs so please come back for more. Liz

Liz Marqueiro

19 March, 2021

Episode 3: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 2

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test.

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Episode 2: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test.

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Episode 1: Top 5 IELTS questions answered

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz answer five questions they are frequently asked by their IELTS students.

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