Three essential tips to start preparing for the IELTSHow to prepare for IELTS
After analyzing the different official exams available to prove your level of English, and concluding that the IELTS is the right one for you, the most important question arises: how do I prepare for the IELTS?
The first step is not to panic. Many factors come into play when finding the optimal way to study for this test. However, as an introduction to the IELTS and to simplify this question, we are going to give you three keys that you must take into account in order to perform in the IELTS well.
1. Become familiar with the testFirst of all, it is essential that you know intimately how IELTS works. Being a standardized test, the IELTS, or International English Language Testing System, follows strict requirements regarding its structure. That is why, unlike other English tests that you might have taken previously, for the IELTS you must study in advance the format and the evaluation methodology. Here are three guiding questions to get you started on the topic.
Are you going to take the Academic IELTS or General Training IELTS?There are two versions of the IELTS: Academic and General Training. The first thing you must decide is which of them is the most appropriate for your needs.
The academic IELTS, as its name indicates, is mainly oriented to the entrance to Anglophone universities, while the General IELTS is the most chosen option for work and immigration purposes.
It is always recommended that you consult the version required by the institution, the company or the corresponding country.
What does each section of the IELTS consist of?The IELTS is divided into four parts: listening (Listening Test), reading (Reading Test), writing (Writing Test) and speech (Speaking Test).
They are done in this order, in a total evaluation time of approximately two hours and 45 minutes.
Note that Listening and Speaking are the same for the two versions of the IELTS, while the Reading and Writing sections vary between the general and the academic.
How is the IELTS rated, and what score do you expect to obtain?To prepare properly, you must establish from the beginning the qualification for which you are aiming according to your needs.
The IELTS is not the type of exam that is "approved" or "disapproved”, but a score is obtained in "bands" ranging from 0 to 9.
Each section is assigned an individual band score, and then these results are averaged to define your final grade.
Since IELTS is used for so many different purposes, your goal score will depend on what you need to take the test for. In all cases, find out as soon as possible the requirements of the relevant entity and aim for a result slightly higher than the minimum required. It is convenient to have a margin in your favor in case the nerves affect your performance on the day of the IELTS exam.
2. Get practice tests for the IELTSYou know what version of the IELTS you are going to take, what is the structure of the test, and what score you need to obtain.
The next step is to start practicing for the test with the help of the best available preparation resource, that is, a complete IELTS training exam.
This is one of the most important parts of IELTS preparation, and one of the steps that many students miss.
To obtain a good result in this standardized test, it is necessary to practice with simulations or complete training exams as close as possible to the real IELTS.
In addition, taking a complete practice test is the best tool to diagnose your level, know your strengths and weaknesses for the IELTS, and plan your study accordingly.
Now, where do you get good practice exams?A quick search on the internet returns many options: for payment and free, official and unofficial, good quality and not so much.
The picture can be overwhelming. To solve all your doubts about these practice resources for the IELTS, we recommend that you take a look at this article which will guide you to find the best complete training exams for the IELTS.
3. Do not forget to practice your English in generalIf you are a beginner or an intermediate student, and you aim for a competitive result in the IELTS, you will want to improve your English proficiency in general before presenting the IELTS exam.
Remember that a score higher than 6.5, like the one normally required by universities, corresponds to an advanced level of English. So, what resources will help you improve your English before the test?
Resources to improve your vocabularyHaving a wide vocabulary in English gives you a huge advantage in the IELTS. We recommend you read well-written articles in English and keep a paper or digital record of all the new vocabulary you find.
Some useful journalistic sources for the IELTS are:
Resources to improve your listening comprehensionIn the Listening section, you will hear speakers with different accents (British, American, Australian, etc.).
Therefore, it is good to train your ears with varied materials, such as those you'll find on:
Resources to improve your reading comprehensionReading daily in English is an infallible strategy. Consult the sources listed above in the resources for your vocabulary and read as much as you can.
Resources to improve your writingIn addition to completing specific training tasks for the IELTS Writing exam, if you want to improve your writing in general, you can choose a topic every day and write about it without stopping for 10-15 minutes.
Practice writing as many texts as you can (on paper, if you want to imitate the IELTS format), time yourself strictly and, whenever possible, show your writing to a native speaker of English who can correct your errors.
Resources to improve your oral expressionTo develop your oral production skills, it is necessary to speak English with some regularity, preferably with native speakers. You can use online apps to find native speakers of English in your area and take advantage of every opportunity you have to interact in English.
Another good option is to sign up for conversation classes, organize English courses in your company or find a private English teacher.
To obtain a high score in the IELTS you need a very good command of English. At the end of the day, what the IELTS evaluates is your proficiency in the language.
Taking the IELTS is not an easy task, but with enough practice, and following the three tips that we have just reviewed, you will undoubtedly be well on your way to successfully tackling this challenge.