How To Ace Your IELTS Exam: Tips and Tricks

April 2021 by


If you’re moving to a university abroad, there’s a lot to prepare for. Not only you have things like bank accounts to consider, but for some places, you’ll need to take an exam called the IELTS exam. This is an exam used in countries like Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK. It’s to determine how well you can communicate in English, and most universities have a grade requirement you need to attend university. It can be quite a daunting exam to take, but we’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you secure that pass.

So, what is an IELTS exam?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. As mentioned, it’s an exam taken that determines how well your English communication is. This is covered in four areas which are reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The exam is run by Cambridge English Language Assessment, IPD Education Australia and British Council. It can also be a bit pricey as it costs around £170 – £195 depending on where you are around the world, but it’s definitely worth taking.

If you want to book one, you simply need to find your nearest IELTS test location and register. It really is that easy!

So how do you pass?

It’s important to note there isn’t an exact pass for the IELTS exam. Instead, you get put into a band depending on how well you do. You can go anywhere from band 1 (meaning a non-user of the English language) to band 9 (expert user). Each university you apply to could look for a different band, so it’s important to take a look at the website of the place you want to attend. While you may not get accepted into one, you might be fine for another.

Time for the tips…

Use your resources

The best way to become familiar with a language is to engage with it. There are so many ways you can do this. For example, you can listen to a podcast, read the newspaper, watch a YouTube video, and so much more. By engaging with other materials, words and phrases will eventually become more familiar to you. You don’t even have to fully understand what you’re consuming straight away, but over time more and more of it will make sense. Especially if your exam is on its way, the more you consume, the better. This can help with all sections of your exam, so it’s very useful to do.

Read, read and read some more

Speaking of consuming, reading is one way to do so. As there are four areas to the exam, you must focus on each of them equally. So how do you pass the reading section? Read, of course! The more books you read in the English language, the more familiar it will come to you. What you read is entirely up to you! You could try reading some vocabulary books to get your words down. English has a list that will really help you with this! Or you could even try reading some novels. Many people recommend you dive straight into your reading and FluentU has some great recommendations that you might like. Whichever approach you take, the more effort, the more you’ll get out of it.

Try some practice questions

If you’re feeling pretty confident with yourself or even if you’re not, taking practice quizzes is a great idea. First of all, it’ll give you a guide of what band you’re at right now but also the kind of things to expect in the exam. If you’re going to master the paper, then it’s important you know where you’re going wrong so that you can improve. You might also find that you’re at a good enough level for the university you want to apply for already! That being said, you can always go beyond that, and the exam will tell you how. In your run-up to the exam, try completing a good few tests to see your progress. There’s a range of websites that offer these quizzes including IELTS online tests and Trial and error can sometimes be the best way to getting where you want to be!

Focus on your grammar

When it comes to your writing section, one crucial aspect is your grammar. Grammar is one of the most complex parts of writing (even some natives can’t hack it), which is why having strong grammar will give you a huge advantage. It will also help you massively down the line because it can be tricky to remember. If you can get your grammar down, you’ll find the language a whole lot easier. You can use a range of resources to learn your grammar, such as the BBC’s basic grammar or even find YouTube content to help you. Whatever you need to help is out there, so make the most of it!

Listen to yourself talking

Learning a language is hard, but your speaking section is even more complicated. Even if you’ve got your reading and writing down, it can be difficult to learn how to pronounce things. That’s why recording yourself talking is highly recommended. You can use other video clips to check if you’re speaking correctly or even let Google translate tell you how it’s supposed to sound. Either way, comparing your speech to others will help you gather how well you’re doing. This can also be helpful for the listening section as you’ll begin to learn what to listen out for. If you do this regularly, you’ll be spot on by the time of your exam.

Time yourself

While practising each part will help you a lot, timing yourself will too. Unfortunately, you will only have a limited time for each section of the exam, so the quicker you can master it, the better. Is your reading going well? Maybe try and speed up to see how that goes. And this can be the same with your writing too. Your speaking and listening should be easier to get in the time frame, but you might also find yourself having a lot of thinking time. Timing yourself means you’ll get a grip of where you are and what to cut down. You don’t even have to reach the limit straight away! If you’ve got enough time, set yourself some goals to reach before eventually achieving the target. Especially in the beginning, you might not be the fastest, but as you practice repeatedly, it should get easier.

Good luck with your IELTS exam. We’re sure you’ll smash it! And remember, practice makes perfect.

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