Important Information about Test Preparation

The International English Language Testing System is not difficult if you know how to approach. The key to IELTS success is preparation. One of the best ways to prepare is to attend a class, but more importantly to choose the right tutor. Doing this will help you start your test preparation on the right track. In addition to taking a course, it is also imperative that you take time in studying and practicing for each of the test’s sections. Bear in mind that preparation may require a lot of things such as time, effort and money. You need to practice diligent and be physically, emotionally and mentally ready for the exam. Check out the steps below to figure out how exactly can you start preparing for the exam.

How to Prepare for the IELTS Exam

  1. Polish your English.

Read books, magazines and newspapers to improve your vocabulary. Have a notebook where you can list new words to build your word power.

  1. Be familiar with the test format.

The test lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes. The first test is the Listening test. There are 4 sections with 40 questions that need to be answered in 30 minutes. Next is the Reading test. It has 3 sections with 40 questions that need to be answered in 60 minutes. After the Reading test is the Writing test. There are two tasks that need to be answered in 60 minutes. The Speaking test is given separately. It could be 3 days before or after the exam.

Exam Tips and Tricks

  1. Practice regularly.

It helps to do practice tests daily. Make sure to time yourself so that you can improve your speed in answering the questions. Practice speaking English everyday. Record your speaking and listen to it.

  1. Relax on the day before the exam.

Set aside your books. Don’t do any practice exams before the exam. This is the time where you can relax and not think about the exam. You can watch a movie or go to a restaurant. This will help rest your brain in preparation for the big day.

  1. Be ready on the test day.

Wake up early and eat a heavy breakfast in preparation for a long and tiring day. Make sure you bring the necessary identification and documents with you. Be in the venue 30 minutes early so you have time to relax and calm your nerves. Just be confident and focus on the test.

Preparing for the Exam Online

The assessment test is becoming increasingly popular nowadays. It is important to prepare for the exam since it can cost a lot of money. You can choose to enroll in a preparation course. However, some do not have the luxury of time to attend classes. This is where online preparation courses can be of help.

Why do people want online preparation?

  • Wide variety of preparation materials from different links
  • More flexibility in schedules
  • Accessibility
  • Free access to practice tests such as British Council’s Road to IELTS

Kaplan offers quality exam preparation aside from other courses. It provides different online test courses such as:

  • Online English courses – provides online interaction with teachers and classmates. The online English courses give feedback to students in terms of their performance in speaking, listening, reading and writing.
  • Private English classes – provides individualized teaching to students. This allows teachers to make their classes more suitable to the needs of their students.
  • Online passport course – this is a four-month online class which prepares you in joining a live class

For more information about Kaplan English courses, visit their website through this link:

These tips would help you make a better decision if online preparation is the best for you. Practice your vocabulary as you join these organizations. Make the most of the internet by joining social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google + for additional tips and advice on the English assessment test.

Best IELTS Blogs to Visit

There are many blogs out there that provide valuable tips and advice for students. Here is a list of blogs that you must visit:

Dominic Cole’s IELTS blog


University of Cambridge’s IELTS blog

IELTS Worldwide



Where to find IELTS Tips

It’s not hard to find tips online. There is an abundance of articles about the exam that will help improve your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Here is a list of websites where you can get good exam advice.

IELTS Essentials



Exam English

The Speaking and Writing Test

Prepare using Books

When studying for the test, it’s good to have a lot of practice material. There are other books you can buy. Here are some of the recommended books:

Cambridge IELTS 8 Self-study Pack (Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CDs (2)): Official Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (IELTS Practice Tests) by Cambridge ESOL (Apr 29, 2011)

Cambridge IELTS 7 Self-study Pack (Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CDs (2)): Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Practice Tests) by Cambridge ESOL (Jul 6, 2009)

Barron’s IELTS with Audio CDs: International English Language Testing System (Barron’s Ielts: International English Language Testing System) by Lin Lougheed (Feb 1, 2010)

Target Band 7: How to Maximize Your Score (Academic Module) by Simone Braverman (Aug 14, 2008)

Ace the IELTS: IELTS General Module – How to Maximize Your Score by Simone Braverman (Nov 1, 2009)

Essential Words for the IELTS with Audio CD (Barron’s Essential Words for the Ielts (W/CD)) by Lin Lougheed (Apr 1, 2011)

Barron’s IELTS Practice Exams with Audio CDs: International English Language Testing System by Lin Lougheed (Oct 1, 2010)

Kaplan IELTS by Kaplan (Oct 5, 2010)

IELTS Assist program, IDP Education Ltd, $59.95 (Writing) $99.95 (all four skills)

Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CD (Cambridge Books for Cambridge Exams) by Diane Hopkins and Pauline Cullen (Oct 23, 2006)

IELTS Writing Analysis for Task 1 and 2: The International English Language Testing System by Richard Aspinall and Isabel Zippert (Feb 28, 2011) – Unabridged

IELTS Writing Task 2: The International English Language Testing System by Richard Aspinall and Isabel Zippert (Feb 28, 2011) – Unabridged

IELTS Task 2: How to write at a 9 level: A Brief eBook by Ryan T. Higgins by Ryan T Higgins (Apr 4, 2010)

The IELTS Calculator

The IELTS Calculator will compute your score in each section and will give you your overall band score.

Band Scores

The exam has no pass or fail. Scores are reported in whole and half bands from 0-9.

9 Expert user – Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

8 Very good user – Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

7 Good user – Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

6 Competent user – Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

5 Modest user – Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

4 Limited user – Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

3 Extremely limited user – Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

2 Intermittent user – No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

1 Non user – Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

0 Did not attempt the test – No assessable information provided.

Using Sample Papers

Using sample papers is a good way to get a feel of the real exam. Sample papers are close copies of the real thing. They help you familiarize with the test format as well as the test questions. Practicing with sample papers in timed conditions helps you to get a better band score.

There are many sample papers for both Academic and General Training online. There are different sample papers also according to section such as listening, reading, writing and speaking. You can get them from websites, blogs, preparation courses as well as preparation books. There are some that you can for free but there are some that you have to pay a minimal fee.

After studying the tips and strategies, you can now start practicing with the sample papers. Make sure that you get ones that have answers and explanations. In that way, you can check your progress.

Try to simulate the real exam by practicing in a quiet environment and in timed conditions. This way you can condition yourself to practice answering in long hours. You can check your time management and make adjustments if you are unable to finish your exam. Try to increase your speed in answering the questions. Remember that there are no breaks in between the exams so you will have to sit in for 2 hours and 30 minutes. The speaking test is scheduled separately.

Practicing with sample tests helps you to deal with different degrees of difficulty. You will realize your usual mistakes and make adjustments to work on those issues.

Prepare ahead by answering sample papers. Your test anxiety will be greatly reduced. You’ll become more confident since you have prepared well for the exam. You can gauge your scores to see if you’re ready or not. Then postpone your exam so that you don’t waste time and money.

So what are the benefits of answering sample test papers?

  • Increases vocabulary through continuous practice
  • Improves your knowledge of grammar
  • Enhances your listening comprehension skills through exposure to different British accents
  • Strengthens your reading comprehension skills
  • Improves your speed and time management in answering questions

Here are some links for sample test papers:

Exam Tips and Tricks

Preparation courses in Singapore

It’s hard to study on your own. That’s why it’s good to enroll in an International English Language Testing System preparation course so you will have a tutor who can help you overcome your weaknesses and achieve the band score that you deserve. You can choose to have it online, private or group classes. Here are some of the preparation courses in Singapore:

British Council:

British Council is considered a household name in terms of exams. It provides courses to students who want to improve their band scores. There is a free one day IELTS Insight workshop which gives an overview of the test format.

British Council also provides a free online course (Road to IELTS). You’ll get 20 hours of study materials if you register with them.


IELTS Zone markets itself as the leadin preparation course in Singapore. They provide three options for students: Group Course, Individual Course and the Hybrid Course. The Group Course consists of 21 hours of instruction with practice tests. A complimentary 30-minute session is provided with Admission consultants regarding university applications. The Individual Course consists of 20 hours of instruction. There is an option for 1-to-1 or 2-to-1. The Hybrid course is the most popular because students get the best of two worlds. They can attend both group classes and enjoy discounted individual classes. Students can take as many individual classes as they want. Students register for a group class and they have an option to have 2, 4 or 6 individual classes. For more information regarding their courses, visit their website through this link:

Curtin Singapore:

Curtin Singapore offers a Preparatory Course for the International English Language Testing System . The course is run over an 8-week period. Total instruction time is 20 hours and there are 5 hours of practice tests weekly. If you need more practice sessions, you can practice as long as 52 weeks. However, there are material fees that gets higher the longer the duration. For more information about their course, you can visit their website through this link:

Where to Find Free Preparation Materials

Many websites provide free preparation materials to visitors. Here is a list of websites where you can get your preparation materials:



IELTS Essentials


Exam English

To know more on how to prepare for IELTS, watch this video: