In this tutorial, we discuss how to crack IELTS with exam preparation tips and tricks for fast success!
What is holding you back from an excellent IELTS score? We’ll talk you through what you need to know before taking the test, how to crack IELTS, the best ways to prepare, with the strategies and tools for getting the result you want.
Table of Contents
- What you need to know before taking IELTS
- How to crack IELTS: Preparing for the different sections of the IELTS test
- How to crack IELTS: The Most Effective Study Techniques for You
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
A student named Amina contacted us to ask for advice. She had been wasting hours looking for IELTS tips on Youtube and on other blogs and wasting money on a fake ‘VIP’ IELTS course and a ‘counsellor’ to help her get the band 7 she needed.
We told her that these ideas are out of date. In 2023, the most successful students aren’t worrying about the right information – they are using the right TOOLS.
What you need to know before taking IELTS
1. What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is a standardized test, from The British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment, that evaluates a non-native English speaker’s language skills on a 9-band scale in reading, listening, writing and speaking.
It is an essential exam for anyone seeking to pursue higher education in countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, Europe, Ireland and New Zealand, or work overseas in English-speaking countries.
There are two different modules: Academic and General Training. The main difference between Academic and General Training is that the reading and writing sections are different, whereas the speaking and listening sections remain the same.
2. Academic, General Training or IELTS Life Skills?
IELTS is held in over 67 countries. IELTS is available in two different modules: Academic and General Training, with one additional module called IELTS Life Skills.
The Academic module is for students who wish to pursue higher education and is more difficult.
The General Training module is designed to test the language skills of those wanting to live in a country.
IELTS Life Skills is a separate test that assesses the listening and speaking abilities of non-native speakers using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It is used to assess the language requirements of those applying for a Family or Settled Person Visa.
Amina wants to study in Australia, so she needs to take the Academic IELTS test.
3. Academic IELTS test structure and format
The Listening test lasts 40 minutes.
The Reading test lasts an hour.
The Writing test lasts an hour. Candidates must answer task 1 (writing about a diagram, map or process) for 20 minutes, then an essay question for 40 minutes. The Speaking test requires the candidates to answer questions, tell a story and then answer more detailed questions on the same topic. It takes 11-14 minutes.
The assessment and grading pattern for IELTS is determined by a 9-band scale. The maximum score for each section is 9 and the minimum is 0, with 0.5 increments in between. Candidates are assessed based on their overall score.
Amina needs an overall band of 7.0 and is aiming for at least 6.5 in writing and speaking with a goal of 7.5 for listening and reading.
4. Practice materials
Amina asked me, what practice materials and feedback are available for students taking IELTS?
She actually meant, what are the best practice materials and what’s the best way to get feedback?
The British Council provide study material such as sample papers and example practice computer-based tests. We have plenty of example material here on the IELTS Podcast for all four IELTS skills. However, Amina is particularly concerned about improving her writing and has already wasted money attending a seminar promising ‘insider IELTS tips and tricks’ which didn’t teach her anything new at all! I recommended that she forget about searching on Youtube and TikTok and use the IELTS essay checker on the IELTS Podcast. It uses AI to identify grammatical errors and other issues with an essay and will send you back targeted feedback.
Amina also checked out our IELTS ONLINE COURSE when she was preparing for her test in order to get extra resources from the experts.
How to crack IELTS: Preparing for the different sections of the IELTS test
Listening: Practise full-length listening passages
Practising full-length listening passages can be an effective way to prepare for the IELTS test. Listening to English news programmes, radio programmes and podcasts from BBC, can help familiarise the student with different accents and tones which are heard during the test.
Listening to sample tests (there are plenty on Youtube) will help practice with focus and concentration, and allow the student to quickly identify tones and words.
Amina sometimes struggles to identify the keywords in a listening passage, so I suggested that she listens at 0.75 speed to familiarise herself with the rhythm of a typical IELTS listening test. When she is more confident, she can increase to normal speed.
Writing: Build up your skills for IELTS Writing
Having a good command of words can help candidates to express their ideas and thoughts clearly. The IELTS essay checker on the IELTS Podcast can help you. Here are some step-by-step instructions to help you build vocabulary for IELTS Writing:
- Read newspapers and pay attention to difficult words. Look up the meaning of these words and try to learn their synonyms.
- Make a habit of writing 10 new words daily. Also, practice using them correctly in sentences.
- Practice planning and writing essays on different topics. This will help you understand how to organize your thoughts and structure your sentences.
- Check your spelling accuracy before you submit your answers.
- Make writing a regular part of your preparation, and then use the essay checker to identify areas to improve.
- Focus on sentence structure and grammar while writing your answers.
- Practice writing one essay per day. Remember to write an engaging introduction and summarise the conclusion.
- Make connections between paragraphs to ensure the smooth flow of your essay. On the other hand, in contrast, another reason for _________ is________.
- Maintain the prescribed word minimum for both tasks – at least 150 words for task 1 and 250 for task 2.
- Regularly practice grammar exercises available online and offline to master English grammar.
Speaking: Focus on sounding fluent in English
- Step 1: Speak with your friends and family in English every day; this will help you develop confidence and familiarity with the language.
- Step 2: Develop your answers and express your opinions in the speaking test.
- Step 3: Focus on fluency when speaking rather than vocabulary. Using started phrases like, ‘That’s such an interesting question’, ‘I hadn’t really thought about that before’ will give you a few seconds thinking time.
- Step 4: Write down new phrases in a notebook.
- Step 5: Speak new words again and again. Consider using an online platform for practising pronunciation.
- Step 6: Watch TV shows and news in English.
- Step 7: Practice speaking English before your test.
- Step 8: Listen to the question and answer it directly – the first sentence of your answer should answer the question, the following sentences will give more detail..
- Step 9: Use a range of grammar tenses in your test. The easiest way is to add ‘Last week/month/year, I….’ or ‘Next week/month/year I will…’ after your first sentence.
- Step 10: If the examiner interrupts you, don’t worry about it – it means you have said enough so you are doing well.
Reading: Learn as much vocabulary as possible.
Learning idioms can be a great way to prepare for the IELTS test as it expands your vocabulary. The more words you know, the easier you will find the speaking test.
Make sure you practice all 10 of the reading test question types, from matching headings to Y,N, NG to sentence completion. Then focus on practising MORE of the ones you find most difficult.
Watch out for traps! Reading test questions will often use incorrect tenses, or a negative sentence, to confuse you. read the question very carefully.
How to crack IELTS: The Most Effective Study Techniques for You
As we told Amina, every student is different and cracking the IELTS exam is not an easy task, but it can be done successfully with the right study techniques.
The following are some effective study techniques that can be used to improve your overall band score in IELTS:
- Learn skimming and speed reading skills to quickly find answers in passages without having to read through all the unnecessary details.
- Focus on learning from your errors skills by regularly going through reading passages and memorising correct answers and synonyms.
- Follow a regular study schedule and practise with sample papers to familiarise yourself with the paper pattern and increase your speed.
- Use IELTS Podcast example materials and questions to help you practice.
- Plan and write as many different essays as you can, using the essay checker to help you improve.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Some of these questions about how to crack IELTS were already covered in this blog post but I will still list them here (because not everyone carefully reads every paragraph) so here’s the TL;DR version.
What are the tips and tricks to crack IELTS?
Tips and tricks to crack IELTS include:
- understanding the structure
- identifying reading techniques
- listening to audio clips
- speaking to someone fluent in English,
- taking mock tests
- getting proper guidance – the IELTS essay checker on the IELTS Podcast can help with this.
What is the IELTS band score system?
It evaluates a student’s abilities and command of the language in four essential aspects: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. The IELTS scores are measured between 0-9 bands, with 9 being an expert user, 8 being a very good user, 7 being a good user, 6 being a competent user, 5 being a modest user, 4 being a limited user, 3 being an extremely limited user, 2 being an intermittent user, 1 being a non-user, and 0 being the test not attempted.
A score of 9 is the highest score on the IELTS test, and it indicates that the person is totally fluent in the English language.
How do I prepare for IELTS?
Step 1: Get familiar with the IELTS exam format and its sections. This will help you get an overview of what you are going to be preparing for.
Step 2: Invest in the right study materials. Make sure to use only the best study material for your IELTS preparation.
Step 3: Start studying as soon as possible. Make sure to plan out your studies in advance to make the most of it.
Step 4: Improve your English skills and grammar. Get familiar with the IELTS Podcast and other resources to refine your IELTS preparation.
Step 5: Take practice tests and mock exams. Use the IELTS essay checker on the IELTS Podcast to check your writing answers. This will help you get used to the exam pattern and get you a feel of the actual day.
Step 6: Lastly, make sure to get enough rest on the day before the exam and go into the exam hall with confidence.
What is the best way to improve my vocabulary for IELTS?
The best way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS is by dedicating time and effort to practice. Here are some steps you can take to improve your vocabulary for IELTS:
- Write down new words in a notebook.
- Speak new words again and again.
- Use new vocabulary to practice for IELTS writing or speaking.
- Practice regularly to improve your language and confidence.
- Read newspapers and look up the synonyms of difficult words.
- Listen to audio clips to improve your listening skills – listening at 0.75 speed is a good way to really focus on keywords.
- Take mock tests to familiarise yourself with the time constraints.
- Familiarise yourself with popular and common idioms.
What are the most common mistakes to avoid in IELTS?
The most common mistakes to avoid in IELTS are:
- Misunderstanding the main ideas – not scanning and reading in detail.
- Not focusing on the question – making careless errors.
- Not knowing the different types of questions.
- Trying to test yourself rather than training yourself, and memorising the answers when you have made a mistake.
- Spelling mistakes – not checking for spelling before submitting the answers.
- Not paying attention to the core information shared in the text.
- Not checking for plurals, word forms, and the correct tense.
- Not writing within the prescribed word limit.
- Not knowing how to use the vocabulary correctly – using unrelated or ornamental words.
- Not having proper time management – writing too much or leaving questions unanswered.