The Essential Guide to Taking the IELTS Exam with Confidence

The Essential Guide to Taking the IELTS Exam with Confidence

Categories: Programmes


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is a widely recognised English proficiency test taken by international students and professionals.

Attaining a high score in the IELTS exam is the gateway to numerous opportunities, be it pursuing higher education or enhancing career prospects in English-speaking countries.

In this blog, we will provide you with essential insights and strategies to supercharge your IELTS exam preparation, help you overcome any obstacles, and set you on the path to success.

IELTS exam requirements for university admissions

Fact: The minimum IELTS score required for university admission in the UK varies depending on the institution and the programme of study. Generally, a score of 6.0 or 6.5 is considered the minimum acceptable level of English proficiency.

However, some universities and programmes may require a higher score, such as 7.0 or above, particularly for graduate-level courses. It's essential to check with the specific university to determine their IELTS requirements.

For a UK visa application for work or residency, the following IELTS tests may be required:

  • IELTS for UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) Academic
  • IELTS for UKVI General Training
  • IELTS Life Skills

The specific test you take and the required score will depend on the visa requirements and the institution where you plan to work or study.


Exam Prep Strategies for Building Confidence and Achieving Success

In this section below, you'll find practical tips and effective strategies for building your confidence and reaching success on test day. From improving your reading techniques and mastering English academic writing, to boosting your performance in the speaking section, we've got you covered. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced test-taker, our tips and tricks will help you maximise your potential and reach your goals. So, let's get started!

1. Familiarise yourself with the different sections of the IELTS exam

Before you begin, get to know the structure and requirements of the test so that you can perform at your best. The IELTS exam is available in two formats: Academic and General Training.

  • The Academic version can be taken in a test centre (on paper or a computer). It can now also be taken online from a private location with a stable Internet connection.
  • On the other hand, the General Training version can only be taken in a test centre on paper or a computer.

The listening, reading, and writing sections are completed in one sitting without any breaks, while the speaking test may be scheduled a week before or after the other sections. If you opt for the IELTS Online, your speaking test will likely take place before the different sections. The entire test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

2. Read in English to improve your comprehension skills and build vocabulary

Read various materials, like novels, blogs, newspapers, and academic journals, to improve your English reading skills. Reading often will help you build vocabulary and enhance your fluency.

Here's some practical quick tips on how to enhance your IELTS reading techniques:

  • Try reading a sentence in full quickly to get an overview, and skip over any unknown words.
  • Next, re-read the sentence and focus on keywords. Read the text carefully and underline the keywords, using contextual clues to guess the meaning of unknown words.
  • Follow instructions carefully. Make sure to only write one word if the instructions say so, and check for grammar, spelling, and capitalisation.
  • Make the most of your time. Leave difficult questions until the end and fill in the answer sheet as you go. Consider the question type before deciding on your strategy.
  • Save time by transferring answers to the answer sheet (unlike the listening section).

3. Master your English academic writing every day

As the saying goes: “practice makes perfect”. Like learning to ride a bike, IELTS test preparation requires ongoing work. A consistent writing habit is essential for achieving excellence in the IELTS Exam.

The IELTS Writing section may require you to write about topics such as the following:

  • Academic Writing Sample Task - You’ll be provided with a graph which shows statistics on radio and television audiences throughout the day in 1992. In your written piece, you need to summarise the information by selecting and reporting on the main data points, and making comparisons where relevant.
  • General Training Writing Sample Task - Imagine you’re a college student living in a room that you share with another student. There are many problems with this arrangement and you find it very difficult to work. You will be asked to write a letter to the Accommodation Officer at the college. In the letter, you must:
    • describe the situation;
    • explain your problems and why it is difficult to work;
    • say what kind of accommodation you would prefer.

When preparing for either the Academic or General Training approach, make note of these fast practical tips for boosting your IELTS writing score:

  • Manage time effectively: with 60 minutes for the entire section, allocate 20 minutes for task one and 40 minutes for task two with time for planning and checking.
  • Read instructions carefully and understand the task.
  • Plan and organise ideas logically.
  • Proofread your work.
  • Expand grammatical range and vocabulary - don’t repeat the same words but instead, try to showcase a variety.
  • Learn from mistakes and keep a learning journal.
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4. Boost your performance in the speaking section of your IELTS test

To do well on the IELTS, you need to have accurate grammar, proper vocabulary, and good pronunciation, not translate directly from your native language, express your ideas clearly and organise your thoughts.

Some topics you might be asked to speak about on this portion of the IELTS exam are explained below.

  • Introduction and interview (e.g. What’s the most interesting part of your town/village? How long have you lived there?)
  • Two-way discussion (e.g. How have people’s values changed over time?)
  • Individual long turn; in this task you will have to talk about a topic for 1 to 2 minutes. (e.g. Describe something you own which is very important to you. You should say where you got it from, how long you have had it, what you use it for and explain why it is important to you.)

Follow our quick advice on how to show confidence from your hard work and preparation:

  • Try to relax while speaking in IELTS as the examiner focuses on your positive aspects, not mistakes. The speaking section is challenging, but think of it as a chat with a friend. You're not being assessed on your knowledge but on your ability to communicate.
  • Elaborate on your answers to show fluency. If the examiner asks “why” or “how” questions, then it means you need to elaborate more. Fluency is one of the assessment criteria, and you need to maintain a good flow of speech.
  • Make the most of your one minute in Part 2 of the speaking section to prepare for the topic given. Stay calm if you're unfamiliar with the topic, use your creativity and pretend you're someone else. Write down keywords to help you.
  • Avoid memorising large chunks of speech and focus on topical vocabulary - study by grouping words into categories.
  • Speak clearly and at a natural speed, and don't worry about your accent.
  • Avoid long pauses, use creativity and try to answer the question.

Tip from one of our Italian students: In October 2022, Gaia joined our IELTS preparation programme intending to take the exam before the end of the year. With hard work and determination, she scored 5.5 on the IELTS and promptly enrolled on our International Foundation Programme, which prepares her for university education.

As a recent IELTS test-taker, here's her advice for those pursuing the exam:

"I know feeling nervous is normal, but overcoming it and managing it is already 50% of your success.

I focused on all four sections from Monday to Friday but considered the listening part the most challenging. I practised this section in the classroom with others, but also in my room by trying various exercises on YouTube. I opened the YouTube app and wrote the number of each unit in the search bar and practised this way.

My advice for the reading part is just read every detail carefully, check the time but keep calm. As for the speaking part, the most important thing is to speak a lot and be confident.

Good luck everyone! You can do it!"

5. Focus on the listening section of your IELTS test with confidence

Improve your listening skills by becoming an active listener. Films and TV series may be fun to watch, but going further will make a big difference.

Remember these quick essential tips on how to boost your IELTS listening skills:

  • Practise regularly listening to various English resources, like podcasts and news reports.
  • Focus on keywords in the questions and predict the context of the recording.
  • Pay attention to details such as pronunciation and intonation.
  • Transfer answers carefully and check for accuracy, especially spelling and capitalisation.

6. Practice IELTS tests to get a feel for the real exam

Improve your IELTS score with free practice tests and answers. Time yourself and use these tests to perfect your techniques and feel more familiar with the exam format.

How many times should you take these practice tests? The answer varies for each individual, but as a general rule, aim for at least 3 to 5 tests to see significant improvement. Continue taking the tests until you hit your desired score or feel confident and well-prepared for the actual IELTS exam.

Important note: During the actual exam, you will take listening, reading, and writing tests in one sitting, so it's crucial to practise under similar conditions. When taking the tests, complete all tasks and answer all questions on each page in the proper order.

Finally, here are a few more helpful links to review:

Unleash Your Potential: We Believe in You!

We hope you found this blog informative and helpful. If you need additional support, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our IELTS preparation programme is designed to set you up for success and help you reach your goals.

You can chat with us online on our website from Monday to Friday between 9 am and 6:30 pm (GMT), or send us an email, or use the button below to schedule a call at a time that suits you.

We have a rolling admissions policy which means you can apply any time, even just a few weeks before starting your programme, but be sure to leave enough time to secure your student visa.


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