IELTS Test: What is It and How to Prepare for It

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A lot of people are moving to English-speaking countries these days. They do it to enter a good college. Some do it for their career. Some are there for sightseeing.

If you want to move, you have to take a test called IELTS. It shows that you speak English well. This test is important because it helps you fit in your new English-speaking home. So, let’s talk about what IELTS is.

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is a four-part test that measures the test takers’ proficiency in:

  • English writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • And Reading.

There are two types of IELTS tests. They are called the academic test and the general test. The former is for students and job seekers. The latter is for migrators.

The tests are not too different. Out of the 4 parts, only 2 have any differences. You can read more about the IELTS test parts here. But if you are curious, the difference is in the reading and writing tasks only.

How to Prepare for IELTS

Whichever test you take, the most basic requirement remains the same; you must be good at English. As such if you start working on that you can improve your performance in IELTS tests. So, let’s see some tips for how you can prepare for IELTS.

1.     Learn How Tests are Marked and The Score You Need

Learn how the tests are marked, and what score you need. IELTS scores are calculated in bands. IELTS scores are marked in bands. There are a total of nine bands that range from one to nine.

One is the lowest score, while nine is the highest score. IELTS tests have a total score of 40 for each part of the test and different bands determine your score. The bands can be whole numbers, or they can be half bands. So, you could score 6 bands, or 5.5 bands depending on your score. Different scores have different band requirements, for example, eight bands require that you answer 35 questions correctly.

Now, depending on what kind of college, university, or company you are joining you will have to score different bands. So, our advice to you is to prepare yourself mentally for getting a certain score.

When you have a clear target to achieve, your efforts will be more focused and efficient, thus improving your performance in the test.

2.     Understand the Different Question Types

Each part of the test has different questions. And if you are taking the academic test, the writing section will have different tasks compared to the general task.  In the academic test, one of the writing tasks is to write a report on a graph, or chart. While in the general test, this task is replaced with writing a letter. Similarly, in the reading test, the type of reading passage given is very different from the academic and general tests.

So, such differences are present in the tests. Hence be aware of which test you are taking. Don’t prepare for the wrong test. That will result in poor performance. Here is a tip. Take the general test if you are only moving to a country.

But take the academic test if you are getting into a college/job. Also, research the specific test requirements of your institution/company. Because some institutions let you substitute the results of one test with another.

3.     Work On Your Vocabulary

Good English skills will help you in all types of IELTS tests. That’s why trying to improve your English. Increasing your vocabulary is a good way to do that.

You can improve your vocabulary in many ways. Some of the most popular methods are:

  • Reading extensively
  • Practicing paraphrasing
  • Playing word games
  • Using a thesaurus and dictionary to look up new words.
  • Practicing new words in daily conversation and writing

Extensive reading is the source of learning new words. By reading you learn multiple things. Obviously, you learn new words. But you also learn how to use new words correctly. You find out how some words are context sensitive too. So, your own English becomes better.

Using a thesaurus to learn new words and applying them in your paraphrasing practice will quickly teach you new words. Another thing you can try is to use a paraphrase tool in your writing and see how it uses new words and phrases to change your text. That can introduce you to new words as well as teach you how to use them correctly.

Practicing like this will improve your command of English, which will help you in all four parts of the IELTS test.

4.     Practice Writing English Every day

Writing is the form of communication in which the writer is most involved mentally. Thinking up the words first and then writing them down makes the writer pay extra attention to their sentence structure and vocabulary. This attention is great for improving your command of English since it can help you revise what you have learned and apply it.

The more practice you have the quicker you will be at writing and articulating English. Another thing writing practice will help you with is improving your grammar. Grammar is the most important part of the writing test. Poor grammar can cost you a lot of marks which brings down your bands.

So, to practice you should also proofread your work afterward. You can get someone to help you with proofreading, or you can utilize tools instead. You can check grammar with the help of online tools. Online grammar checkers can identify spelling errors, incorrect/missing punctuation, and the use of incorrect word forms.

They also provide explanations and corrections for the errors. This teaches the writer what they did wrong and more importantly how they can fix it. That is a surefire way to improve your English and do well in your IELTS test.

5.     Do Practice Tests 

Practice tests are a tried and tested method of improving your IELTS score. Nothing prepares you for the real test than taking a mock version of it at your leisure. Taking practice tests will help you to familiarize yourself with the test format and time limits. Becoming familiar with those things will help you to stay calm during the actual test and not be stressed.

You can find tests online. You don’t need to worry about paying either as most resources are free. You can even refer to the official British Council website to find practice tests. Taking the tests and grading yourself will help you to find out which areas you are weak in and focus on improving them.

There is no shortage of resources for IELTS practice tests. You can tackle listening and reading exercises using videos on YouTube. But the most important skill you will develop from doing tests is the ability to multitask and attempt the tests quickly. This will help you avoid unnecessary stress and perform better on the test day.


In conclusion, these are the five tips that will help you to perform well in your IELTS test. The five tips are quite simple, but they require you to put in consistent effort. By following these tips not only will you improve your English proficiency, but you will also become proficient at taking the IELTS test.

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