Learn how to prepare for the IELTS

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Find a IELTS Tutor close to you

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Find a IELTS Course close to you

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Ways to Prepare for the IELTS

IELTS Instruction

Regardless of a student's level of English language knowledge, the IELTS is an exam that requires comprehensive preparation. Test-takers must be familiar with the types of exercises they will encounter on the test, and they must also be able to answer questions quickly in order to receive optimal scores. Professional instruction is the most reliable way to secure passing IELTS scores, and test prep firms usually offer a number of options (such as online or on-site courses and private tutoring plans). These courses can be expensive, but the results of this type of study are proven (assuming that qualified firms and teachers are chosen). Professional instructors can address common student preparation issues, offer encouragement and positive reinforcement of skills, help design plans for study outside of the classroom, and administer diagnostic assessments. For these reasons, formal IELTS study is almost always better than informal programs of self-study.

IELTS Online Preparation Resources and Aids

The IELTS website provides several study aids, including sample test questions (free), two volumes of official practice materials with CD or DVD (£12.74 each), and links to preparation courses affiliated with official IELTS test centers. Test-takers may also download helpful documents on IELTS scoring, test design, and test policies.

Books on the IELTS

The most important volume on the IELTS is the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic and General Training. This book includes comprehensive coverage of all IELTS sections, 8 practice tests, answer keys and answer sheets, and recording scripts. It is easily available from online bookstores for approximately $35. Some test prep companies have released their own guides to the IELTS, but these materials should be considered unofficial because the test's creators were not involved in their production.

IELTS Practice Tests

The website of the British Council offers free practice tests for the IELTS academic and general training tests. Unofficial guides usually contain practice tests which may be of value, but students must understand that these practice materials have not been vetted by IELTS. All IELTS study plans should include extensive practice testing at regular intervals throughout the preparation period. Practice testing develops IELTS skills, builds testing endurance, and boosts student confidence.

Preparing for IELTS Retakes

Students taking the IELTS again must ensure that their study routine is substantially improved, probably with some sort of professional assistance. Otherwise, there is no reason to expect higher sectional or composite scores. IELTS research indicates that international students often find it more difficult to increase their scores in speaking and writing than in listening and reading. Individual study plans should nonetheless focus on a given's student's specific weaknesses.