By Singapore Teaching Centre, British Council

23 October 2019 - 20:42

IELTS staff with a customer

To achieve your target IELTS score it is important to improve you overall level of English proficiency. In addition, it is also important that you are familiar with the format of the test and prepare correctly. 

Prepare for IELTS

These top five tips will help to make sure you take the right approach with your preparation. 

Speaking: Casual Conversation

For part 1 of the IELTS speaking test you will be asked about a wide range of familiar, everyday topics and this could be anything from movies to pets, music to holidays! So, if you are attending an IELTS preparation course, a good tip is to introduce yourself to a classmate and start a discussion about one of these topics before your class begins. Regular, natural conversation like this allows you to develop the habit of accessing vocabulary for these topics more quickly and naturally.

Writing: Time Practice

Timed practice is very important! Sometimes you can practise writing without a timer, so you can work on your grammar and vocabulary, but you should also do plenty of practice where you time yourself. After each practice, make a note of how much time you needed, and try and reduce it the next time you write. This trains you to make sacrifices and prioritise so that you can meet the word limit for Task 1 and Task 2 within the 1-hour time frame.

Reading: Skimming

A lot of students understand the skill of skimming but struggle to use it effectively. Practise this skill frequently by regularly skimming one to two-page articles (from any magazine or newspaper) in 30 to 120 seconds. Don’t aim to ‘understand’ everything, but just try to pick up as many clues as you can. Do this often, and over time, you will still get more comfortable with this skill.

Listening: Listen to Podcasts

As well as your IELTS listening practice, try listening to recordings of regular talks or conversations. Listening to the radio is useful, but this can be challenging if your current English proficiency level is below upper-intermediate (B2). A good alternative is downloading podcasts — short audio shows, similar to a radio show, about 20 minutes to 60 minutes in length. You can search for podcasts on topics that are interesting to you, and you can also search for podcasts to help with learning English, which can be easier to understand.  

English proficiency: Set a Target

It is important to know what your current level of English is. That way, you can set a realistic target for yourself, and will have an idea of which band score you can aim for. For example, if you have 3 to 6 months available to focus on your IELTS preparation, a good target would be to aim for a band score higher than your current level. For more information on your current English level, and what a realistic target would be, consider joining an IELTS preparation course. 

Prepare for IELTS

Conversational English differs from business English. Read our blog post on the differences between business English and conversational English.