What is IELTS?

The International English Language Test (IELTS) is designed to help you work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. It is a test designed to measure your ability in the four skills of writing, speaking, reading and listening. After the test you will be given a score from 1-9. You use this score for admission to a university or to work abroad (institutions and employers decide what score they require). Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test. IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9.

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

There are four sections in the IELTS test, but some parts vary depending on whether you are taking the test to study abroad or work/live abroad.

Why take IELTS?

If you are looking to work, live or study in an English-speaking country, then you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language ability.

English is the third most spoken language in the world, with 379 million speakers worldwide.

Being able to communicate in the native language of the country you wish to work or study in, has a wide range of benefits. It is also essential for job opportunities as well as integration into the community.

IELTS is the most popular test for those looking to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is globally recognized by more than 10,000 employers, universities, schools and immigration bodies including 3,400 institutions in the USA.

IELTS score scales

Band score Skill level Description
9 Expert user The test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8 Very good user The test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
7 Good user The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
6 Competent user The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest user The test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
4 Limited user The test taker's basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely limited user The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent user The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-user The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
0 Did not attempt the test The test taker did not answer the questions.

Academic IELTS: Study Abroad

The IELTS Academic test is taken if you are planning to study abroad at school or higher education establishments.


The academic writing test takes 60 minutes and there are two parts. You will have to write an essay and analyse a graph or diagram.


The reading test takes 60 minutes and is divided into three sections. Each section will have an academic reading of about 600 words and you will have to answer 40 questions in total.


In this part of the test, you will have a 11-14 minute interview with an examiner. The examiner will ask you questions and evaluate your responses. The questions are easier at the beginning but get harder at the end.


The listening test takes 40 minutes and is divided into four sections, each one slightly harder than the first. There are 40 questions. You'll have to listen to each section and answer the questions as you listen.

General Training: Working or Living Abroad

The general training module is intended to test English ability in a more practical, everyday context. The test format is the same as above for listening and speaking. However the writing and reading modules are different.

People often take the general training module if they are intending to work or live abroad.


Like the academic test, you will have to write an essay, but you will have to write a letter instead of analyzing a graph. Again you have 60 minutes.


Like the academic module, the test is 60 minutes and there are 40 questions to answer. However, the readings are based on real life situations rather than being academic.


In this part of the test, you will have a 11-14 minute interview with an examiner. The examiner will ask you questions and evaluate your responses. The questions are easier at the beginning but get harder at the end.


The listening test takes 40 minutes and is divided into four sections, each one slightly harder than the first. There are 40 questions. You'll have to listen to each section and answer the questions as you listen.

IELTS test tips

The IELTS Test can be a bit challenging if you are prepared enough. Also, to score well, it is important that you start your preparation well in time. It is a three hour test that evaluates you on all four language skills - listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Here are some pointers to help you score well in your IELTS exam:

IELTS Listening test tips
  1. Most important: check if your headphones are working, if not, raise your hand
  2. Utilize the time allotted to prepare the questions. Read through them before the recording starts
  3. Listen to the recording attentively and focus more on answers than understanding everything. Remember that the recording is played only once
  4. Take notes on your question paper when listening to the recording
  5. Write within the given word limit for each question
  6. Revise and proofread for spelling and grammar errors before submission
  7. Try to use all capital letters for your answers
IELTS Reading test tips
  1. Examine every detail of the figures, graphs or images in the question paper to be precise while answering
  2. If you can’t understand a question, don’t waste time on it. Rather move onto the next, you can always come back later to finish this
  3. Don’t waste time writing on question paper. There is a time limit and you will get no extra time to transfer answers later on
  4. Understand the questions carefully and focus on finding answers from the passage
  5. Be precise, grammatically-correct and to-the-point. Proofread before submission
  6. Try to use all capital letters for your answers

The General and Academic Training Reading tests are usually graded to the same level. However, the texts mentioned in the Academic Reading Test can be more challenging as compared to those mentioned in the General Training Test.

IELTS Writing test tips
  1. Perform a thorough analysis of assigned tasks and quickly prepare the answers mentally
  2. Divide your time smartly, 20 minutes for task 1, and 40 minutes for task (as it is lengthier and carries more marks)
  3. Try to write over 150 words for task 1 and over 250 for task 2
  4. Avoid repetition of ideas, phrases and words
  5. Ensure that you write a conclusion for task 2
  6. Write precise, relevant answers. Avoid writing long paragraphs and sentences
  7. Use active voice. Avoid writing in passive voice
  8. Do not submit without a thorough revision and proofreading
IELTS Speaking test tips
  1. Speak clearly (slow and fluently)
  2. Listen to the questions asked carefully, and answer directly
  3. You can add more information to the answers, ensure the answers remain relevant
  4. If required, ask the examiner to repeat the question
  5. Be confident as you speak
  6. Don’t take long pauses
  7. Focus on vocabulary, range of tenses, grammar and sentence structure equally
Quick tips for the test day
  1. Ensure that you carry your relevant ID proofs. Carry the same identification document as used at the time of test application.
  2. Double check test location, date and time. Keep enough travel time so as to avoid getting late.
  3. No watches are allowed in the exam room, there will be a wall clock in the examination room to refer
  4. Be attentive when the supervisor is giving instructions, ask again if you have any doubts.
  5. Try to attempt all questions as there is no negative marking.
  6. Do not try to cheat or copy any other student’s work.
  7. Leave your belongings outside the examination hall, as directed by the supervisor.
  8. Do not take back the question paper or answer sheet with you.
  9. Seek your supervisor’s permission before leaving the room.

Feel free to contact the IDP Nepal team for any further assistance on IELTS test preparation.

How do I prepare for IELTS?

This is probably one of the first things you'll be asking yourself if you are new to the test or you've take it but think you may not be preparing properly.

Learn how you should start preparing:

5 steps on how to prepare for IELTS.

Steps 1: Choose the Right Test

Before you think about how to prepare for IELTS, the first thing that you want to do is to make sure you know which type of IELTS test you need to take.

There are two versions: IELTS Academic and General Training. They are slightly different so you need to make sure you prepare for the right one!

You take IELTS Academic if you are intending to apply to study abroad in an English speaking university or school, or some other form of education. General Training is for those intending to work abroad or immigrate to another country.

A lot of the elements of the tests are the same but the reading modules are completely different and part of the writing module is not the same.

Steps 2: Understand the test format

The next thing that you want to do to know how to prepare for IELTS is to get to know what the general format of the test is.

First it’s useful to know how the scoring of IELTS works. It's based on band scores and you need to know which one you are aiming for and how they are calculated across the modules.

Also have a look at the official IELTS public band descriptors so you know what the examiner uses to grade your speaking and writing (you can find them with an online search as they are public).

Then you should go through one practice test for each of the modules so you know exactly what you have to do in each part of the test. You can do by using the official Cambridge tests which has one practice test for each module.

When you first do this, don’t worry about timings or specific skills, just have a go at a reading and listening test so you know what it involves.

Steps 3: Study sample questions & answers

From going through step 2, you now know what to expect generally in each module.

But there are lots of different types of questions so it’s a good idea to get to know more about the different question types and the ways that people answer the questions.

There is no point in looking at model answers for reading and listening as they are fixed answers that are right or wrong. But for the speaking and writing there are a variety of ways that you could answer each question.

Step 4: Learn strategies and tips

Now it is time to dig deeper into the specific strategies of how to answer specific question types for all modules of the test: speaking, writing, listening and reading.

Try to work on a different skill each day so you don't get bored with the same thing, or if you have the whole day free, spend the morning on one skill and the afternoon on another.

And of course it is ultimately an English test so don't become obsessed with just studying IELTS.

Immerse yourself in other English activities as these will all help with the test, such as watching English speaking films and You Tube videos, reading books and magazines, and of course speaking English if you can.

You don't need to spend all your time on IELTS based activities and if you do you will get very bored.

Step 5: Practice under timed conditions

It is essential that once you have started to understand the test format and the strategies you can use to get a high score, you practice under test conditions. This is an essential part of how to prepare for IELTS.

Finishing on time is one of the major problems that candidates have in the reading and writing tests. So get some reading practice tests and writing task 1 and task 2 questions and do a lot of practice keeping strictly to the times allocated in the test – one hour for the reading, and one hour for the writing (with 20 minutes spent on task 1 and 40 minutes spent on task 2).

How long do you have to prepare for the test?

How to prepare for IELTS will very much depend on how much free time you have and when you are taking the test. This will also depend on your skills.

This is some advice on some possible things to think about if you only have limited time, such as one week, one month, or three months.

How to prepare:

To have the best chance at doing well on IELTS, it’s important that you prepare for the test.

Understand the test format:

Familiarize yourself with the format of the test by reviewing the test content, as well as the question and task types for each section. It’s also important to read through the IELTS rules and regulations.

IELTS has two types: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both tests assess your English language skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking.

1. Writing

The writing component of the IELTS exam is designed to assess how you “write a response appropriately, organize ideas and use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately.” It comprises two tasks and candidates have 60 minutes to answer them.

IELTS Writing Test

The IELTS writing test is the module that many students find the most difficult.This is because in a short space of time (one hour) you have to write an essay and a graph (academic module) or a letter (general training module).

Writing Tips

Well, the million-dollar question for every IELTS test taker is to get Band 7 or more in the Writing Task. In order to score a Band 7 or more in IELTS Writing many IELTS test-takers spend a lot of time training to write top-notch essays. To achieve the desired score, they stuff their essays with uncommon vocabulary, overuse complicated grammar or write too many words.

But are these means essential?

The straightforward answer is NO.

There are many examples where simpler writings got a score of 7.0 and higher! The reason is one doesn’t need any special knowledge: the examiner will assess your writing, not your thoughts. Overall, simpler but accurately expressed ideas would score better than too complicated ones. To succeed in IELTS Writing, you need to

  • be accurate
  • write simple things well

Surprisingly, even well-trained candidates often lose points on IELTS Writing because of making simple mistakes, from going off topic and exceeding the word limit.

Following are the top 10 IELTS Writing tips that will help you score Band 7+ in IELTS Writing:
1. Read the questions
Understanding what the question asks you to do is crucial for achieving a good score. Always read your question thoroughly and cover’ all the points you’re asked to write about.
2. Read what you have written
Go back and read the paragraph you have just written before you start the next one. You may think that this is a waste of time. If so, you’d be wrong. It is important to link your paragraphs together therefore just read what you have written.
3. Be clear
The practical advice here is to select your best idea and write about that. That means not writing everything you know – leave some ideas out.Don’t worry if it is not your best explanation, worry about whether it is your clearest explanation.
4. Write about what you know
You are being tested on the quality of your English, not on the quality of your ideas. So, you shouldn’t worry about finding the “right answer”. You need a simple idea that you can clearly describe and justify.
5. Follow the standard structure
To get maximum points, you should follow the standard structure.
IELTS Writing Task 1 should be written as follows:
  • 1. Introduction: Briefly describe what your graph shows.
  • 2. Overview: State main trends.
  • 3. Specific details: Describe specific changes, providing data.

IELTS Writing Task 2 answer should have such backbone:
  • 1. Introduction: Rephrase the topic + give your opinion.
  • 2. Body paragraphs: Each should have its central idea, which is generally stated in the first sentence.
  • 3. Conclusion: Just rephrase your opinion from the introduction.
6. Don’t write too many words
It’s a bad idea to write more than 300 words in Task 2 and more than 200 words in Task 1. Lengthy essays are more prone to mistakes and even you have less time for proofreading.
7. Choose your writing style
Never use informal language in academic writing or in the essay. Only in general module task 1, you may be asked to write an informal letter.
8. Don’t learn model answers by heart
Do not memorize model answers – you will receive less points for such an essay. The chance of getting exactly the same essay as you’ve learnt is minimal. So instead, spend some time learning to adopt advanced vocabulary to make it fit into your answer. This way you’ll be able to use various word phrases in different writings and show your broad range of vocabulary.
9. Don’t branch off!
Do not include irrelevant information. Write only according to the theme. If you wander from the subject, you will get a much lower score even for a well-styled answer.
10. Write clearly and coherently
Do not repeat yourself with different words, avoid being redundant. Also, make sure that each paragraph in Writing task 2 has a central idea It’s very important for IELTS Writing that every paragraph in your essay is clearly separated and has its main thought. This simple thing makes your essay neat and coherent.
IELTS Writing Exam Tips
Keep checking the time so you don't make this mistake. You need 40 minute for task 2. Always write over 150 words for task 1 and over 250 words for task 2. See this lesson about the recommended word count. Don't count the number of words, count the lines and estimate your word count.

2. Reading

Reading is the second part of the IELTS test, and takes 60 minutes. It consists of three or sometimes four reading passages of increasing difficulty, and there are a total of 40 questions to answer. Though you can mark and write on the Question Paper, you must enter your answers on the Reading Answer Sheet, and be aware that no extra time is given for transferring your answers from the test booklet to the Reading Answer Sheet.

The Academic and General Training Reading Tests are graded to the same level. However, because the texts in the Academic Reading Test are more challenging overall than those in the General Training Test, more questions need to be answered correctly on a General Training Test to receive the same grade.

IELTS Reading Tips

1. Don’t expect to understand every word
Many of my students have been taught to look up every word in a dictionary they don’t understand in a dictionary. The theory behind this is good, a wide vocabulary is key to getting a good score in the IELTS test, but worrying about all the words you don’t understand in the reading exam is one of the worst things you can do.
If you don’t understand a word in the reading test there are two things you can do. You can look at the words and sentences around it for clues as to its meaning or you can move on and forget about it. You don’t have to understand the meaning of every word. Even native speakers- and many IELTS teachers- would not be able to understand all the words in the reading test.
Candidates, who worry about the meaning of every word, panic and spend too much time thinking about words that might not be related to the question. Focus on the words that are related to the question and don’t worry about the words you don’t understand.
2. Practice your reading skills NOT your IELTS skills
It is important to familiarize yourself with the IELTS reading test, IELTS reading tips and gain an understanding of the various questions. It is also important to learn from your mistakes (see below). However, students who just practice IELTS exams are missing out on a good opportunity to improve their general reading skills.
IELTS reading texts can be a little boring and you are more likely to read regularly if you read about something you are interested in. Reading for pleasure a little every day will not only improve your English skills but also improve your vocabulary. There are thousands of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and newspapers to choose from online. Practice makes perfect.
3. Read the instructions VERY carefully
So many easy marks are lost by good IELTS candidates because they fail to read the instructions properly. This is especially true in the reading and listening tests because they give very specific instructions. If you don’t follow these instructions exactly, you will get the question wrong.
Even if a number is written as a word it counts as a number e.g. Thirty two is counted as 32. ‘Thirty two cars’ is one word and a number. If you don’t do this, as stated in the instructions, you will lose a mark.
If the answer asks for two words only and the answer is red and yellow, you should write ‘red, yellow’, not ‘red and yellow’. Red, yellow are two words. Red and yellow is three and therefore incorrect.
Finally, one word only means just one word. We should, therefore, be very careful with articles like ‘a’ and ‘an’. For example, the text might say ‘an earthquake’, but if it asks for one word simply write ‘earthquake’. ‘An earthquake’ is two words and is therefore wrong.
4. Don’t panic
Some of the questions will be easy and some will be extremely difficult. The key is not to panic when trying to answer a difficult one. Nearly all of the IELTS teachers I know have to check the answers to some questions because they are so difficult.
The wrong thing to do is spend a large amount of time on a question and fail to spend enough time on the rest of the questions. If the answer does not present itself, move on to the next. You can always come back to the difficult questions later and answering the other questions will often help you.
Time and nerves need to be controlled in order to do well in the reading test all the IELTS reading tips in the world won’t help you if you can’t control your nerves. You are probably not going to get all of the questions correct and accepting this will help you to control your time and emotions on test day.
5. It’s really a vocabulary test
In many ways, the reading test is more of a vocabulary test than a reading test. They will use synonyms and paraphrase sentences to test how wide your vocabulary is. To prepare for this I advise my students to do three things: read, note, and review.
As mentioned in tip number 2, reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary. Memorizing lists of words is not as effective as seeing words in context. When you see a new word you don’t understand, try to guess the meaning from context. This means that you try to guess the meaning based on the words and sentences around it. You will be expected to do this in the exam so it is a good idea to get practicing now. Only when you have done that should you check the meaning.
Next, you should put all of your new words in a special IELTS vocabulary notebook. Record not only the meaning but also things like synonyms, antonyms, collocations, form, examples, pronunciation and pictures. You don’t have to record all of these things; just the ones that work for you. All our brains work differently so find out what helps you remember vocabulary and use it.
Finally, there is no point in recording all this new vocabulary if you don’t review it. After putting all the effort into looking up the meaning and record everything in a notebook, it would be a waste of time if you don’t look at it regularly again. I advise students to look at new vocabulary one week after first studying, then two weeks later and finally a month later. Test yourself by covering up the meanings or try to think of a sentence.
6. Timing is crucial
If you spend too much time on one question you will leave less time for the other questions, however, if you try to do the test too quickly you will miss information and may get confused.
I advise my students to try and get each section finished in 20 minutes. This breaks down to 16-17 minutes to read and answer the questions and 3-4 minutes transferring and checking your answers.
Some teachers advise students to spend a set or fixed amount of time on each question but this is bad advice for one main reason- some questions are more difficult than others and will, therefore, take you more time. What you should do is pay attention to your timing when practicing. You will notice which questions take you longer and which questions take you less time. This will give you the confidence to spend a little longer on certain questions and stop panicking in the exam.
7. Ignore anything you already know about the topic
The higher the level the more this problem affects people. Please remember that you are being tested on your understanding of the text only; your own knowledge of the topic should not influence your answers.
I had one student who I thought was going to get an 8 or 9 in their reading test. All of their practice tests had been at this level and I wasn’t worried about them at all. Unfortunately, this person had a degree in biotechnology and the reading was on this subject. Instead of carefully reading the text they used their own knowledge to answer many of the questions. They were very angry when the results came back and it was only after talking about the test that we established what had happened.
Make sure you don’t make the same mistake and base your answers on the text only. Don’t make assumptions based on your own knowledge.
8. Practice slow and fast
Many teachers advise students to practice for the IELTS reading test ‘under exam conditions’. This means you do the practice test in one hour without any help, just like in the exam. This is poor advice for a few reasons.
By doing the test under exam conditions you put too much pressure on yourself and you don’t give yourself time to reflect on how to answer specific question types, spot patterns in questions and how you answer them, note down common vocabulary and notice how much time you spend answering certain questions.
It also does not give you a chance to analyze your mistakes. You should really focus on your mistakes and figure out why you were wrong and then improve. This is a slow process and should be prioritized.
Once you have practiced several tests slowly, you can then practice them under exams conditions.
9. Be careful when transferring your answers
In the test, you will be asked to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. A common mistake is to spend too much time on reading and answering questions and leaving very little time to transfer the answers. It is only natural that silly mistakes are made when people are under pressure.
I advise my students to practice with an IELTS answer sheet and see how much time it takes them to transfer their answers. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the process and have confidence on test day.
10. Leave no blanks
This might seem one of the most obvious IELTS reading tips but you would be surprised how many people leave blanks. Even if you don’t know the answer, make sure you attempt every question. You might get lucky and you have nothing to lose.

3. Listening

The Listening test is the same for both IELTS Academic test and IELTS General Training test. You will need to answer 40 questions in response to four recordings. You will listen to four recordings which are a mix of monologues and conversations from a range of native speakers and you will only hear each recording once.

The IELTS listening test is divided into four sections and the sections get increasingly difficult. You only hear each section one time.

Section One is a conversation between two people. It's usually somebody trying to get some information, such as a student speaking to a university administrator about a course or somebody enquiring about car insurance.

Section Two is one person speaking about a topic. For example, a tutor explaining a course or a travel agent explaining a tour or holiday.

Section Three could be two or three people speaking. Again, an example could be a professor discussing an assignment with two students

Section Four is one person again. It is usually somebody giving a lecture about a particular topic.

These IELTS listening practice exercises will provide you with some of the key skills that you need to be successful in each of the section of the test.

The time for the test is 40 minutes. The listening takes 30 minutes, but you then have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet.

During the IELTS listening test, you are given time to read the questions and enter and then check your answers. You enter your answers on the question paper as you listen and when the tape ends ten minutes are allowed for you to transfer your answers to an Answer Sheet.

One mark is awarded for each of the 40 items in the test.

Top 10 IELTS Listening Tips
  1. Word types. Skip over the questions and decide which type of word fits in each gap.
  2. "Plug in" the situation. Try to get an idea of the situation.
  3. Don't lose attention.
  4. Watch out words-indicators.
  5. Don't write answers too quickly.
  6. Check for silly mistakes.
  7. Transfer answers accurately
  8. Don't leave any blank answers!

4. Speaking

The Speaking test will assess your use of spoken English. The test will last between 11 and 14 minutes where you will discuss a variety of topics with an IELTS examiner. Your test will take place in a quiet room with an examiner who will encourage you to keep speaking. There are 3 parts to the Speaking test.

You might be nervous about taking your IELTS Speaking test, but with these 10 tips and plenty of practice, you will be well on your way to building your confidence and getting the IELTS band score you need.

For both paper-based and computer-delivered IELTS, the face-to-face Speaking test is made up of three parts. By understanding what happens in these three parts of the Speaking test, you will be better prepared.

Part 1

In Part 1, you will have a 4 to 5 minute conversation with an IELTS examiner about yourself. Topics might include:

  1. Work
  2. Family
  3. Home life
  4. Personal interests
Part 2

In Part 2 of the Speaking test, you will be given a card with a topic. You will be given one minute to take notes on the topic and will be given a pencil and paper to prepare your response; you will then speak on the topic for two minutes.

Part 3

In Part 3, you will have a conversation with the IELTS examiner around the topic given in part 2, discussing it in more detail. Part 3 should take approximately 4 to 5 minutes to complete.

Tip 1: Don't memorize answers
Don't memorize answers, especially in Part 1. Memorized language doesn't give the examiner an accurate measure of your English-language skills. The examiner will be able to tell if you have memorized your answers and this may influence your final band score.
Tip 2: Don't use big and unfamiliar words
You may want to impress the examiner with big and complex words in your Speaking test. But to be safe, avoid using words you are not familiar with. There is a higher chance of making mistakes by either mispronouncing words or using them in the wrong context. Mistakes can affect your final band score.
Use a range of vocabulary that you know which is relevant to the topic being discussed. Look at the topics in Tip 10, making vocabulary lists or mind maps to help you learn more words and phrases connected to these topic areas.
Tip 3: Use a range of grammatical structures
When IELTS examiners asses your speaking skills, they mark you against the following assessment criteria:
  1. Fluency and coherence
  2. Lexical resource
  3. Grammatical range and accuracy
  4. Pronunciation
Try and use a range of grammatical structures using complex and simple sentences to express what you want to say. Know your own errors and practice speaking to friends in English, or record yourself to see if you can spot errors. If you hear an error, make sure to correct yourself. You are assessed on your ability to use different grammatical structures accurately, so it's important to practice speaking about the past, the present and the future using correct tenses.
Tip 4: Don't worry about your accent
With a face-to-face Speaking test, the IELTS examiner understands a wide range of accents so will be able to understand what you say, unlike an AI machine. If you can communicate well, then there is nothing to worry about. But do be aware of sounds that you have difficulty with and make sure to use stress and intonation as English is a stress-timed language. Practice with friends and they will tell you if they can't understand what you are saying.
Tip 5: Pause to think
There is no harm in taking a brief pause to think about what to say. We all do it to process questions. You can use phrases to give you time to think during the Speaking test - phrases such as:
  1. That's an interesting question
  2. I have never thought about that, but...
  3. Let me see
  4. That's a good point
  5. That's a difficult question, but I'll try and answer it
  6. Well, some people say that is the case, however I think...
  7. Let me think about that for a minute
Tip 6: Avoid using fillers
Speak confidently and avoid using filler words. We generally use fillers when we don't know what to say, however, this shows the examiner that you can't access the appropriate language or ideas so it's important to avoid them and to use the phrases we gave you in Tip 5.
Avoid the following fillers:
  1. Like
  2. You know
  3. Umm...
  4. Ahh...
  5. Ehh...
  6. Well
  7. Yeah...
Tip 7: Extend your answers
Try and answer the examiner's questions in full. Extend your answers and don't wait for the examiner to prompt you with a question. When your answers are short, this shows the examiner that you cannot talk in detail about a topic. If the examiner says 'Why?', they are prompting you to give a reason for your answer and to extend more fully.
Tip 8: Smiling helps pronunciation
Smiling can help calm your nerves which in turn helps your pronunciation. Make sure to enunciate clearly, opening your mouth wide enough so that sounds comes out clearly. When we smile, our mouth is bigger and the tone of our voice is friendlier. Using clear enunciation and tone will show the examiner that you can use a range of pronunciation features.
Tip 9: Don't speak in a monotone
Sometimes when we speak, we produce a flat sound, a monotone, with little variation. This makes it more difficult to express what you say and makes it more difficult for the listener to identify what parts of your message are important. Putting emphasis on certain words and pausing at sections in your speech can make your conversation with the IELTS examiner more engaging. When we emphasize certain words it makes it easier to compare and contrast ideas by stressing key words. It also increases the flow of conversation, so remember:
  1. Don't speak in a monotone
  2. Vary the stress and intonation to add emphasis
  3. Use your hands to gesture and help the rhythm of the conversation
Tip 10 - Practice common IELTS topics
Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test requires you to speak on a given topic for about 2 minutes. Practice common IELTS topics with friends, family or colleagues to improve and to learn vocabulary associated with each topic.
Common topics you can practice for the Speaking test include:
  1. Tourism and travel
  2. Education
  3. Transport
  4. Environment
  5. Family life
  6. Sport and recreation
  7. Crime and punishment
  8. The internet
  9. Advertising and retail

When you do IELTS comprehension

  1. Self-check and analyze why you get wrong.
  2. Write down new words and memorize them.
  3. Highlight long and complicated sentences that you do not understand. Ask.
  4. Record time, you have to finish three passages in 50mins and leave 10mins to check you’re careless.
  • Download the IELTS listening app and practice one set listening every day. Here is some app for the best practice:
    1. IELTS Prep App
    2. IELTS Test Pro 2019
    3. IELTS Skills
    4. IELTS Word Power
    5. BBC Learning English
  • Do not listen to it when you are on the bus or walking because it did not help.
  • Prepare a pen and a piece of paper or notebook, pause, listen again and write down the part you are not sure about. eg. 18 or 19 ( Australia, British and American accent all different in some small details)
  • Be careful with similar words

  • Read model compositions but do not copy, learn the content structures only.
  • You must have your own ideas and critical thinking.
  • Do not use the same vocabulary more than three times.
  • Avoid using complex sentences to show off your English. Just clarify your ideas and main points in a logical way.

  • The efficient way to save time for the speaking part is to check predicted questions on or near your exam date.
  • Focus on predicted questions and practice Studying is no shortcut.

Top 5 IELTS Preparation Books

  1. Barron's IELTS.
  2. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.
  3. Cambridge IELTS 14 Academic Student's Book with Answers with Audio.
  4. Official IELTS Practice Materials.
  5. Road to IELTS.

Test format

There are two types of IELTS: Academic and General Training. All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. Make sure that you prepare for the correct test type.

The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.

The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

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Duration: 30 minutes

The Listening test is the same for both Academic and General Training versions of IELTS and consists of four recorded monologues and conversations.

The following IELTS Listening sample tasks are to be used with the Answer Sheet and MP3 audio files and/or transcripts. Each answer sheet indicates which recording to listen to, or if a transcript is provided.

Listening sample test 1

Duration: 11–14 minutes

In the Speaking test, you have a discussion with a certified examiner. It is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.

There are three parts to the test and each part fulfills a specific function in terms of interaction pattern, task input and test taker output.

In Part 1, you answer questions about yourself and your family. In Part 2, you speak about a topic. In Part 3, you have a longer discussion on the topic.

The Speaking test is the same for both Academic and General Training versions. Each of the three parts is designed to test a different aspect of your communication ability.

Downloadable Speaking Sample tasks

Academic Reading
Duration: 60 minutes

Texts for the Academic Reading test are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.

A variety of tasks is used, including: multiple choice questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s views/claims, matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

Downloadable Academic Reading sample tasks
Academic Reading answer sheet
General Training Reading
Duration: 60 minutes

A variety of tasks is used including; multiple choice questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s views/claims, matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

Downloadable General Training Reading sample tasks
General Training answer sheet
Academic Writing
Duration: 60 minutes

The Academic Writing tests consist of two writing tasks of 150 words and 250 words.

In Task 1, test takers are asked to describe some visual information (graph/table/chart/diagram). They need to write 150 words in about 20 minutes. In Task 2 test takers are presented with a point of view or argument or problem. They need to write their response in 250 words in about 40 minutes.

Below are samples of Task 1 and Task 2.

Please note that test takers for IELTS Academic take a different Writing test in IELTS General Training.

Downloadable Academic Writing samples
Academic Writing answer sheets
Academic Writing sample script
General Training Writing
Duration: 60 minutes

The General Writing test consists of two writing tasks of 150 words and 250 words.

In Task 1, test takers are asked to respond to a situation by writing a letter, for example, requesting information or explaining a situation.

In Task 2, test takers write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

Below are samples of Task 1 and Task 2.

Please note that test takers for IELTS General Training take a different Writing test in IELTS Academic.

Downloadable General Training Writing samples

Great YouTube Channels to Improve English and Crack IELTS:

We are here with some fantastic YouTube channels that have great content and help you improve your English effectively:


STICK AT IT. -Get a routine, get organized, and pass IELTS.

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.

–Robert Collier (1885-1950)

Good Luck