The International English Language Testing System, aka the IELTS, is a standardized test that measures international students’ English proficiency. If your first language is not English, you may have to take the IELTS (or the TOEFL) as part of a university’s admission requirements. Today I’m going to tell you three things you must do during IELTS practice. These three tips are vital to IELTS success and can help you get your dream IELTS score, so you can get into your dream school, dream job, or dream country.
1. Use a good IELTS sample test resource
I’m sure you already know that you should do practice questions to prepare for the IELTS. But did you know you’re not making the best use of practice questions unless you also take some full-length practice IELTS tests? Don’t just grab any IELTS test sample you find. This article offers some of the best places to find a good IELTS practice test, including where to find IELTS Listening, Reading, and Writing practice test PDFs and copies of the questions from the IELTS Speaking interview. Best of all, many of those resources are free. Often the very best full four-section practice exams come in the form of a free download IELTS practice test from one of the official IELTS websites.
To make the best possible use of your IELTS practice tests, also record your scores. And make sure that you know what a good score is. Check out this write-up on how IELTS scores are calculated and what qualifies as a good IELTS band score.
Related: About US Standardized Tests
2. Plan an IELTS prep timeline and consider the IELTS test dates
To organize your IELTS prep well, remember: plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead! A well-made IELTS timetable can be useful in planning daily and weekly study activities. But another very important aspect of study is setting a good IELTS test date so you have the right amount of time to study while still meeting application deadlines. This comprehensive guide to IELTS test dates can help you choose the perfect date by showing you how to select the right test date, register for it, and show up fully prepared for the test.
3. Mind your writing for both IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2
I’ve been tutoring IELTS students for a decade, and there’s one section that has caught all of my students off guard at first. And you guessed it—it’s the IELTS Writing section. Writing effectively in English is hard, even for native speakers. In fact, writing well in any language, even your native language, can be challenging. Never treat your IELTS Writing as an afterthought, and don’t assume you can write well in IELTS just because you’re good at the other IELTS sections, or just because you’re comfortable with writing in your first language.
Instead, really study each IELTS Writing task. The Academic version of the IELTS can be especially challenging. To properly prepare, carefully study this complete guide to IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, and this similar guide to IELTS Academic Writing Task 2. (Those of you taking IELTS General Training may also benefit from the second guide, since Writing Task 2 is the same on both versions of the IELTS.)
Related: Standardized Test-Taking Tips
Learn more about university admission in our International Students section.