In this post, I’ve put together a list of general tips that I give my students. You can find tips specific to the different skills tests (listening, reading, writing and speaking) in the relevant sections under ‘IELTS Preparation’. I have divided the tips into three sections; before the test, during the test and after the test.
I apologise in advance if any of my tips make me sound like I am your mother; I’m a mother too!
Before The Test
The aim before test day is to prepare yourself as well as possible and hopefully help reduce your stress and nervousness in the process.
Some of the tips in this post may seem obvious but they are often forgotten:
1. Find out as much as possible about IELTS Test procedure so that you know what to expect; this will make you feel much more in control and relaxed. If you still have any questions after reading this post, contact the Test Centre where you are sitting the test and I’m sure they will be able to help you.
2. You should have done various practice tests before the test to give you some kind of an idea of where you sit on the IELTS Band Scale. If you are taking lessons, you teacher should be able to help you with this. If you are interested in me marking some writing tasks for you or conducting a practice interview over skype, please contact me. The reason I think it’s so important to have an idea of your approximate level before you take the test is so that your expectations are as realistic as possible and you know what work needs to be done, should you have to re-sit the test.
3. The day before the test you should get everything you need together, re-read the instructions that the IELTS Test Centre sent you, the ‘Rules and Regulations’ and ‘Advice and Information’ from the application form. In particular you should make sure you take the same ID that you used for the application or you will not be allowed to sit the test.
4. OK, here’s the ‘mum bit’! Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before the test and don’t sit up all night ‘studying’. As with any language test, the IELTS Test is not an exam you can cram for. The best thing to do would be to try and relax. If you really feel you must do something ‘constructive’, then watch a DVD in English or read an English magazine (something relaxing that you enjoy).
OK, so now the ‘big day’ is here. You need to be as relaxed as possible, which, I know, is easier said than done. If you know any good ways to make you feel relaxed, for example yoga or meditation, put them into practice. Try not to spend your time before the test drinking lots of coffee and chain-smoking!
1. Eat a substantial breakfast!
2. Make sure you leave for the test in plenty of time. You don’t want to arrive at the test centre rushing and stressed or worse, late and not permitted to sit the test.
3. You are not allowed to take your belongings into the exam room; you have to leave them outside. The test centre will look after your things carefully but for your own peace of mind, if you are the kind of person who worries a lot (like me!), try not to take anything valuable with you on the day of the test. You do not want to be thinking about the possibility of your valuables being stolen when you should be concentrating on the test.
4. Make sure you visit the toilet before going in to the exam room. Ideally, you don’t want to waste valuable time during the test, being accompanied to the toilet by an IELTS member of staff.
After The Test
Don’t do a ‘post-mortem’ of the test by discussing it with other candidates; you can’t change anything now.
It’s probably not a bad idea, however, to spend a little time on your own reflecting how you think you did in each test and making a few notes about things you found problematic or that might affect your score. This will help you analyse your results and in your future preparation should you unfortunately find yourself in the position that you have to re-sit the test. You should then put your notes away somewhere sate and try to forget about the test until you get your results.
My students have found these tips to be ‘good, sensible advice’. I hope you find them useful.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!