Getting as prepared as you can for your IELTS exam is the best way to ensure you’ll get the grade you want. But what can you do to ensure you feel as ready and as confident as possible when the big day comes to sit your test? Read on to discover our top tips on the best ways to prepare for IELTS.
Getting to know what to expect in the IELTS exam will not only help settle your nerves on the big day, but will also make you much more prepared to get straight into the test. All of the IELTS exams require careful time management if you’re going to be able to answer as many of the questions as you can. Knowing what format the tests will take in advance will really help to eliminate any nasty surprises you’ll have on the day, and help you know in advance how much time you can dedicate to each section.
Having a wide vocabulary will help you in all aspects of your IELTS exam. You’ll have a greater understanding of the language for the reading, writing and listening exams, and you’ll have much more opportunity to express yourself and demonstrate your command of English in your speaking exam. Bear in mind that having a good vocabulary doesn’t mean just using complicated or obscure words.
Concentrating on discovering synonyms (a word or phrase that means the same as another word) will help you find new ways of describing and expressing things. You should also try to learn about ordering your sentences properly to help you sound more natural and native. There are some great free tools to help you with this online. You could try Grammarly, as well as great apps like Magoosh Vocabulary Builder, 7 Little Words or Word by Word.
One of the things that makes English one of the hardest languages to learn is its pronunciation. No sooner have you managed to get your tongue around the words with very few vowels (for example, ‘strengths’), then there’s silent letters, homophones, and numerous exceptions to the (very confusing) rules – for example, there are at least four ways to pronounce ‘-ough’ at the end of a word!
One of the best ways of practicing your pronunciation is by speaking to native English speakers – easy enough to do if you’re preparing for your IELTS exam in the UK. But if you’re not able to find a speaking partner or just someone to have a chat with, just watching some of your favourite English TV shows can be a great help. Watching your favourite shows with the subtitles on will help you associate the sound of the word with how it looks too.
Sample tests are a great way to check your progress at the same time as getting familiar with the test formats themselves. Try to stick to exam conditions as much as you can (don’t use a dictionary and try to stick to the allocated time), and then look up anything you didn’t understand once you’ve marked your test. There are lots of resources online, as well as plenty of IELTS books which contain sample exams and audio recordings.
Lots and lots of practice is the only way you will improve your English skills. But don’t just concentrate on your strongest skill as you will be tested across four areas: reading, writing, listening and speaking. With a bit of preparation, you can easily fit some practice of each of these key skills into your every day routine.
For example: you could read an English newspaper while you’re having your breakfast, listen to a podcast on your commute, write a shopping list or a letter in the afternoon, and have a chat with your friends in English during the evening. Even just ten minutes practice of each skill every day will make a huge difference to your fluency as well as your confidence.
This is a really good idea for when you want to achieve a specific score in your IELTS exam. For example, like when you’re applying to university or to meet the criteria for your visa. IELTS preparation courses offer intensive learning led by experienced teaching staff, and will challenge you with regular tests so that you can check your progress. You’ll also be given tips on exam strategy, ways to prepare and all the do’s and don’ts of the IELTS exam which will help you get the score you want.
If you study at NCG, we’ll also give you access to a free online IELTS support platform as well as advice as to when you should book your real exam. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you prepare for your IELTS exam in the best way, just get in touch today. You can also explore our IELTS Preparation Courses.