How to prepare for your IELTS test

Be better prepared for your IELTS test by following the five steps below. Find out about the benefits of taking an English language course. Understand the test format and rules. Take advantage of our free practice test materials.

Step 1 Improve your English

It takes time to learn a language and one of the very best ways to learn is to take an English language course. The feedback you receive from your teacher will help you improve the specific skills involved in speaking, listening, reading and writing English.

Use your English every day. Read, speak, listen and write in English as often as you can. This is a proven way to improve your English and therefore your IELTS score.

  Bullet Speak English with your friends and family
  Bullet Listen to English language radio, television and film. Try to listen to a variety of English accents including American, Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand.
  Bullet Read English publications wherever possible.
  Bullet Write letters, emails or notes in English to practise your written skills.

Step 2Understand the test format and rules

Familiarise yourself with the test format – Remember that there are two versions of IELTS – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The Listening and the Speaking components are the same for both tests but the Reading and the Writing components are different. 

  Bullet Read the Information for candidates booklet which provides essential information about how to respond correctly to each part of the test. You can also collect a copy of this from your test centre.
  Bullet Read the Notice to candidates.
  Bullet Get to know what each level on the IELTS band score table means.
  Bullet Understand what the examiners are looking for in the Speaking and Writing tests by reading the assessment criteria
  Bullet Get the facts. Don't believe myths and rumours about the test. They will only distract you.

Step 3Practise sample questions

Download and practise taking sample IELTS exam questions. As IELTS is timed, it is critical that you practice as many sample exam questions as possible and work to build up your speed.

  Bullet Practise the test using these free IELTS test sample questions.
  Bullet Use the Official IELTS Practice Materials (two books available) which you can purchase online or from your local test centre
  Bullet There is a wide range of IELTS materials available you can purchase from a variety of publishers. For a list of popular titles, click here.


In addition to practising sample questions you may also wish to consider taking an IELTS preparation course. A preparation course will help you:

  Bullet practise the type of tasks included in an IELTS test (e.g. a short essay/letter for the Writing test)  
  Bullet get feedback on your answers to practice questions
  Bullet become more confident in your test-taking skills
  Bullet help you decide if you are ready to take your IELTS test

Ask your local IELTS test centre for more information about preparation courses near you.

Step 4Try to feel relaxed on the day before your test

On the day before your test, take the time to refresh your memory of the test rules, test format and location so that you feel as relaxed as possible.

  Bullet Read the Information for candidates booklet again - this contains essential information to help you do your best.
  Bullet Make sure you know the test rules – read the Notice to Candidates 
  Bullet Get plenty of rest the night before your test.

Plan your journey − ensure you are familiar with the location of the test venue and know how you are going to get there so that you arrive on time.

Step 5Know what to expect on test day

The following test day advice will help you feel calm and ready to do your best on test day.


Free IELTS sample questions

Find an IELTS test centre

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