How to prepare for IELTS

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Hello beautiful people, today we are going to talk about The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) which I’m taking in 25 July 2020. 

IELTS is the most popular English language proficiency test for people who want to study or work in English speaking countries. Over 2.5 million people sit the test every year from around the world and it is accepted by over 10,000 organisations around the world, including: schools, universities, employers, and immigration authorities. IELTS is available at more than 1,200 locations worldwide and there are 48 test dates a year.

I will be giving you, step by step, a guide to prepare for this exam including The IELTS structure, a wide range of resources and a little piece of advice.

1. Strategy

Firstly, you need to make sure you know what IELTS score you will need to get. For example, in my conditional offer from university, I am required to take IELTS (Academic) with 6.0, a minimum of 6.0 in writing and a minimum 5.5 in all other components.

The IELTS test has two versions: General Training and Academic. The Speaking and Listening sections of both tests are identical, but the Reading and Writing parts are different. For example, General IELTS Reading texts may focus on everyday articles, adverts or magazine extracts, but the Academic version of the test uses journals, scientific literature and more intellectual copy. 

Register for your IELTS test well in advance just to be sure you get a place. If you still need time to decide, there is an IELTS Global Test Dates Calendar with all the information you need. BE CAREFUL when you choose the test date because it can be a Paper-Based or Computer-Based. It is your job to choose which one is best for you.

2. Test Skills

There are four parts to the IELTS test- Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening. Each of these parts has many different possible questions and each of them has a specific skill that you need to acquire.

The Listening, Reading and Writing sections are completed on the same day. The Speaking test, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests.

A. Writing

Academic Writing

Format – Write in a formal style in the IELTS Academic Writing test. In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should find the issues interesting and easy to understand.

Timing – The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2. You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

Number of Questions – 2 questions

Task Types – Two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2

General Training Writing

Format – The topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest. In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.

Timing – The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2. You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

The number of questions and task types are the same for both, academic and general training.

B. Reading

You will need to read quickly and efficiently, and manage your time. You will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions in your IELTS Reading test.

Academic Reading

Format – Three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.  They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

Timing – 60 minutes including the transfer time

Number of Questions – 40 questions

Task Types – Fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions

General Training Reading

Format – Extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

Timing and the number of questions are the same.

Task Types – Fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions

C. Speaking

Format 

Part 1: The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.

Part 2: The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking. The examiner will then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3: The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Timing – 11-14 minutes

D. Listening

Format – You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  • Recording 1: a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 2: a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities
  • Recording 3: a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Recording 4: a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture

Timing – The IELTS Listening test takes approximately 30 minutes, and you are allowed an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers from your question booklet to your answer sheet.

Number of Questions – 40 questions

Task Types – A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion.

3. Resources

Main sites for IELTS preparation

  1. British Council
  2. IELTS Advantage
  3. IELTS Practice Tests Plus

Phone Apps

  1. IELTS Practice & IELTS Test (Band 9)
  2. IELTS Full – Band 7.5+
  3. WordUp Vocabulary
  4. Learn English Phrasal Verbs and Phrases
  5. LearnEnglish Podcasts – Free English listening
  6. BBC Learning English
  7. Virgin Radio UK
  8. Learn English by Video

YouTube Channels

1. Lingua Marina

2. English Lessons with Adam

3. Ted-Ed (educational animated videos)

4. Button Poetry

5. Ted

6. IELTS Charlie

Booklets

1. New Proficiency in English – Mihaela Chilărescu
2. Advanced Language Practice
3. Advanced Grammar & Vocabulary
4. Destination B1/B2
5. Destination C1C2

PDF’s

null – Expressions, Vocabulary & Idioms

4. What to expect in the test day

Try to feel relaxed on the day before your test. Read the Information for Candidates Booklet. Take the time to refresh your memory of the test rules, format and location. Sleep well and trust yourself.

Also, plan your journey to arrive early, bring your ID (valid passport/national identity card) and stick to the plan. No matter what happens, do your best!

Ps. You must have the same identification that you provided on your IELTS Application form. If you do not have the correct identification document, you will not be able to take the test.

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