What Is IELTS and How Do I Prepare for It?

An illustration of a student studying IELTS reading tips at their desk.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an English proficiency test designed for non-native English speakers. Candidates may be required to complete IELTS to evaluate their English language abilities if they plan to work, immigrate, or study abroad. The assessment is based on listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills.

IELTS is the world’s most popular English proficiency test, with over 3 million tests taken each year. Recognized by more than 10,000 organizations globally, IELTS was developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts.

You may be wondering how to prepare for the test and pass it with flying colors. In this article, we’ll discuss strategies for every IELTS section. Keep in mind, target scores vary based on visa requirements and where you’ll study or work. To learn your required score, click here.

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IELTS Reading Section

If you’re not already doing this, be sure to read English books, newspapers, magazines, and online articles during your free time. While reading, ensure you understand the main points and overall message the story is trying to tell. You should be able to do this enough to share and discuss these ideas with others.

You can choose to practice your English writing skills while reading by making notes on key details. Doing so will also help you remember what’s important so you can answer any questions being asked on the written piece.

Read more: IELTS Reading: 10 Study Tips to Help Increase Your Score

IELTS Speaking Section

The best way to prepare for IELTS is to immerse yourself in the English language. Do your best to engage in conversation with others as often as possible. If you have no one to practice your language skills with, read a book or magazine out loud.

This encourages you to practice the pronunciation of various words. You may feel silly talking to yourself, but this has been proven to help.

The more confident you become speaking the language out loud to yourself, the better you will be at speaking English with others and engaging in conversation. The worst thing you can do is hesitate because you aren’t fluent. You will be if you commit and practice consistently.

Once you begin to get comfortable with words, try learning slang words to make your sentences sound more natural.

Read more: IELTS Speaking: 10 Tips to Help Increase Your Score

IELTS Listening Section

Similar to the speaking section preparation, be sure to listen to conversations in English. You can listen to television shows, English songs, or podcasts.

To boost your understanding, first listen to the content, and then repeat what is said out loud. It’s also important to listen to and engage in group discussions. This way you will be familiar with and comfortable listening to multiple points coming from multiple people.

Read more: IELTS Listening: 6 Study Tips to Increase Your Score

IELTS Writing Section

Writing can be a challenge. This is a skill you will develop and strengthen over time. In fact, even some native English speakers aren’t strong writers, and even though they learn to write in school.

When it comes to writing essays, be mindful – following a structure is important. Structure helps the flow of the information being delivered to the reader.

In addition to reading newspapers and magazines, be sure to read sample essays. You can find these online. Familiarize yourself with the various structures used to build essays, such as the points made in each paragraph and the topic of the essay. Be patient with yourself and keep practicing.

Read more: IELTS Writing: 7 Study Tips to Increase Your Score

Remember, you’re being tested on your communication skills, not on your general knowledge. Good luck!

Feel ready for IELTS? Register for the test and find your nearest test centre here.

After you’ve successfully completed IELTS, use the ApplyBoard platform to find the right study abroad program for you!


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