You’ve set yourself exciting goals for your future and achieving success is important to you, so why is it so hard to get started on your IELTS test preparation? Nerves in the lead-up to an important test are normal. You may even feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information you need to absorb. The first thing to do is take a step back and write a study plan so you feel more in control of your learning.
IELTS test preparation – step by step
1. Make a plan
Before you dive into your revision, start by thinking about the time you have available to you and how you are going to use it. Be specific – identify times in your week when you can be free of distractions and schedule in your revision accordingly. Consider not just when but where you will study (at home? In a coffee shop?), and what topic or skill you will be concentrating on that day.
You can’t arrive at your destination without mapping out the route first, so take care to make a schedule that really works for you.
2. Just start
Do you find yourself procrastinating? The IELTS is daunting, so it’s only natural to want to put it out of your mind. However, the best thing you can do is get started, and the best way to do that is to start small. Set yourself a short, manageable task to switch your mind on to learning – you’ll be surprised by how much headway you can make.
3. Maintain momentum
Once you’ve built some momentum, don’t waste it! The more consistent you are in your practice, the more seamlessly your study sessions will fit into your day. If you’re someone who likes to keep physically fit, think about that process and how it makes you feel. Though your work-outs can be challenging, the sense of accomplishment and structure they bring to your week means you can find yourself looking forward to them. If you do miss a few days, don’t be disheartened – accept that you’re human and jump back in as soon as you can.
4. Break it down
If your plan is too general, it will lack focus. For example, instead of saying that tomorrow and the next day you will study IELTS writing, ask yourself what precise skills are contained within that learning topic. Think about the question types you will be answering, the proficiencies you will be expected to demonstrate, and the strategy that will help you formulate your test responses effectively. Give yourself one area to concentrate on at a time so you can be methodical and thorough, knowing that there are no gaps in your studies.
5. Check the box
When you complete a 30-minute or hour-long study session, check the box, and enjoy the sense of satisfaction you’ve earned when the checks begin to add up. Committing time to your English practice each day takes discipline and self-motivation, so be sure to recognise and reward your progress.
Materials and resources
So now that you have your plan, and you know what you need to work on, what resources are available to support your learning? Our expert IELTS tutors have put together a range of free materials to get you ready for the test, including practice tests, online courses and preparation apps. Find the materials that suit you, from videos and preparation books to face-to-face courses and IELTS insight workshops.
Our IELTS courses
The British Council provides expert support to help you reach your IELTS goal. We run two courses.
IELTS Preparation is a 10-week course that will help you to score well in your test by focusing on the key language skills required for success. Suitable for students taking IELTS for academic or general purposes, the course is taught by a highly qualified and specialist teacher in small group sizes. Receive individual feedback on all four parts of the test and build your confidence as you learn tried and tested test techniques.
If you have a limited amount of study time, the IELTS Coach Express course offers a condensed version of the full course. You can book either IELTS course and test together and take the computer-based test on a day of your choice.