10 Tips for How to Prepare for the IELTS Exam at Home

Preparing for the IELTS exam at home can be a lonely and difficult process. Here are some top tips to help keep you motivated, productive and on track for the score you need!

By Sally Muse - Teacher Trainer and Academic Management - updated 09/08/2019

 1-    Do a combination of timed and untimed exam practice tasks.

To be prepared for the day of the exam, it is important that you practise doing exam tasks within the time limits of the real exam. That said, to help you to build your reading and writing strategies you will also benefit from taking things more slowly sometimes. Spending time to produce better quality essays, for example, will help you develop your awareness of vocabulary and grammar and improve your ability to organise your writing.

2-    Record yourself answering questions from the speaking test.

Listen back to your answers and consider the criteria that are being assessed (Fluency, Vocabulary Range and Accuracy, Grammar Range and Accuracy and Pronunciation). Think about how you could change your answers to improve your performance in each of these areas and then record yourself for a second time, making the changes you can.

3-    Practise the speaking test with a friend or family member.

Speaking to yourself is not the same as speaking to a real person. It’s important that you get used to answering the questions whilst looking at and interacting with the person who is asking you the questions. This will help you to feel much more comfortable on the day.

4-    Pretend you’re an actor playing the role of an enthusiastic and interested person.

You might be feeling nervous in the speaking exam so practise taking on an ‘alter-ego’ to help you to be confident and expressive. This will probably improve your intonation and the general impression that you leave on the examiner.

5-    Don’t forget to work on your General English too!

At the end of the day, the IELTS exam is a test of your English and the topics that you will be expected to write and speak about are all topics that you will meet in General English.  There is no magic list of academic words that are the key to passing. It is very important to focus on developing your general vocabulary and grammar too. This will also bring variety to your study.

6-    Read a lot!

Find books and articles you are interested in and read read read! Reading for pleasure is a great way of consolidating your knowledge of the language and being entertained at the same time.

7-    Be informed about the world and form your own opinions.

In the speaking and writing exams, you will be asked to express opinions on a range of topics. Reading and listening to people’s opinions will help you to generate ideas on topics you may not have thought about before. Watch debates and documentaries online to help with this.

8-    Produce a self-editing checklist.

You are probably aware of mistakes that you make a lot when you write. Perhaps you forget the final ‘-s’ on third person singular or you over-use a particular tense. One way to avoid these mistakes is to write a short list of these common mistakes and to get into the habit of checking your finished writing to make sure they haven’t re-appeared.

9-    Try not to over-use long set phrases in your writing

It is tempting to learn set expressions for each type of writing you have to do in the exam but be careful not to do this too much as it will stop your writing from sounding like your own work. Also make sure you know exactly when you can use them as if they are not used correctly, the examiner will soon notice!

10-  Book an IELTS preparation course at International House Newcastle!

If you need more support, book an IELTS Preparation course with International House Newcastle. We have courses available all year so enrol today!