The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a set of tests designed to assist you in working, studying, or migrating to a country where English is the primary language. This includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It has four sections: Speaking, Reading, Listening, and Writing. The four sections of IELTS mainly focus on the candidate’s practical ability to converse in English in real-life situations.
The IELTS was introduced in 1989 and has since become one of the most trusted English-language assessments. It is accepted by over 10,000+ universities, employers, and immigration bureaus all over the world.
The COVID 19 pandemic has affected all of us in more ways than one. For some people, it has put their study and career plans on hold. Are you one of those who had to step back and postpone their dreams of moving to Australia or any country where IELTS is needed? Do you think that now is the best time to push through with your plans as life must go on? After all, we don’t know when the pandemic will end.
You are in luck. Even with the current situation, you can still prepare for IELTS to improve your English proficiency. And the best thing is that you don’t have to go elsewhere. Preparing for IELTS does not have to be that hard, and in fact, you can do it in the comfort of your home.
This article will guide you with all the best possible ways to prepare for IELTS at home. You can prepare for IELTS and get the band score you are aiming for while in your PJs, sipping coffee (and staying safe) while boosting your chance of scoring high in IELTS at the same time.
- Understanding the IELT Exam Format and Test Regulations
- 5 Useful and Practical Tips for Your IELTS Test Preparation at Home
- General Guidelines to Help you Prepare at Home
- What Are Some IELTS Exam Day Tips?
- How to Develop Your English Skills and Capabilities?
- IELTS Preparation Online Resources to Help You
- Additional FAQs on IELTS Preparation at Home
Understanding the IELT Exam Format and Test Regulations
Before taking the IELTS exam, you have to make sure that you have understood the test exam format and its regulations. This is one aspect that most candidates attribute to their success. Understanding the test format gave them the edge and the confidence they needed when they took the test.
Below is the IELTS exam format for both the Academic and General Training modules.
|Test Section||Test Duration||Test Tasks|
|Speaking||11 to 14 minutes||There are three tasks, all of which are about everyday topics and common experiences. |
Part 1 or Task 1
Part 2 or Task 2
Part 3 or Task 3
|Reading||60 minutes||There are three reading passages and 40 questions to answer. |
Academic module: Passages are factual, descriptive, analytical, and discursive texts
General Training module: Passages are excerpts from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and company handbooks
|Listening||30 minutes||There are four audio recordings and ten questions to answer.|
|Writing||60 minutes||There are two writing tasks, and both must be completed. |
(1) Describing, summarizing, or explaining based on the given graph, table, chart, or diagram
(2) Writing an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem (formal in style)
General Training module:
(1) Writing a letter requesting information or explaining the situation
(2) Writing an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem (can be personal in style)
Also, make sure you understand the following test rules before you take the test:
- Provide a proof of your identity (passport or national ID) prior to your speaking test.
- Only have your identification, pencil/pen, and eraser on your desk.
- Make sure that cell phones and any other electronic devices are switched off and placed with your personal belongings outside the testing room.
- Inform the invigilators immediately in case of untoward conditions that may in any way affect your performance.
- Make no attempt to cheat or copy the work of another candidate.
- Refrain from using a dictionary, spell-checker, electronic recorder, or other devices during the test.
- Do not talk to or disturb other candidates once the test has started.
Candidates who will not abide by these rules and regulations will have their test results disqualified or be liable to prosecution.
5 Useful and Practical Tips for Your IELTS Test Preparation at Home
1. Work on Your Vocabulary
This can be challenging for non-native speakers. The English language is so profound that you need a dictionary to understand even the most basic words. As such, you need to find ways and means to improve and widen your vocabulary.
IELTS is all about the English language, so try to expose yourself to as much English as you can. Involve it in your daily routines. Read online magazines and blogs if you haven’t started yet. You can also watch English movies and documentaries and listen to podcasts. They will help you improve your vocabulary while learning how to pronounce the words at the same time. Please pay close attention to unfamiliar words and make sure you use them in sentences when you practice.
Take note too that you have to learn better vocabulary. This may include a few complex words. The more you encounter complex words, the more you will learn their meaning and use them. Practice writing and speaking them so that you are confident by the time you take the test, and it appears natural.
2. Improve Your Writing Skills
Most candidates would agree that the Writing section is one of the most challenging sections, if not the most difficult, in IELTS. You may have the best ideas in mind, but how do you put them into writing? Improving your writing skills will give you an edge in IELTS.
You can start by practicing one IELTS writing test a day. Lots of websites offer practice tests for free. Make use of those. If you start a month before your test, you will have written 30 writing tests and be far better than most candidates. You can take these practice tests in your bedroom or any place at your house, as long as they are free from any possible distractions.
However, keep in mind that improving your writing skills is not enough to ace this section. You also have to follow the IELTS Writing guidelines.
- Always practice writing following the given time limit. (60 minutes).
- Spend more time in writing the second task. It has more weight.
- Bear in mind that speed and accuracy are the keys to a greater preparation.
- Analyze the questions comprehensively and address all the points raised in the writing task.
- Proofread your paper before handing it to the examiner.
3. Refine Your Language Fluency and Pronunciation
50% of your score in the IELTS Speaking section is based on fluency and pronunciation. Pronunciation can be difficult as it depends on many factors such as word stress, sentence stress, and long and short vowels, among others. Sometimes, where you come from is also a factor. Fluency, on the other hand, requires you to speak smoothly and coherently.
Fluency and pronunciation require a lot of practice and patience. You may have top-notch vocabulary but still, fail the IELTS Speaking section because you can’t pronounce the words accurately. Being conscious of how you pronounce the words will affect your flow of thoughts during the test and, therefore, can cause you to speak incoherently.
Luckily, there are various ways on how you can refine your pronunciation and fluency. One of the most effective methods is by recording yourself while practicing for the IELTS speaking test. All you need is a decent recorder, and voila! You are set.
Listen to how you say the words. Pay attention to the content of your answers. You can also ask a family member to practice with you. Take turns being the candidate and the examiner and assess how good (or bad) you fare. Taking notes is another trick you can apply. It will help you point out the mistakes and errors you might have committed while practicing.
4. Enhance Your Listening Skills
“Pardon me, what did you say?” “I’m sorry, I did not hear you. Can you please repeat your question,” Does this sound like you?
If yes, then this tip will vastly help you.
Listening is one of the skills that you have to focus more on in the Speaking and Listening sections of IELTS. In the Speaking section, you have the luxury of asking the examiner to repeat the questions if you did not hear them the first time. Unfortunately, the Listening section does not give you this option.
Aside from utilizing the different IELTS Listening practice tests online, you can also enhance your listening skills by listening to podcasts and tuning in to different radio stations. This will make you familiar with the different accents you will be hearing during the actual test. Also, if you know someone whose primary language is English, the two of you can spend time talking via the telephone or a cell phone about relative topics that might be included in IELTS. Keep in mind, however, that ‘YOLO’, ‘You only listen once.’
Practice the skills of note-taking too. This might spell the difference between a 6.5 and 7 band score.
5. Don’t Ignore the Importance of Reading
Most, if not all of us have been reading all our lives. From the moment we wake up, we read the messages on our cell phones. At breakfast, most people read newspapers. For some, they read the news online. Reading is something most of us are used to. But in IELTS, reading isn’t that simple. To get your desired band score, you have to focus on improving and enhancing and reading skills.
At home, we man make use of the different reading materials at our disposal. This includes books, magazines, newspapers, and even advertisements and company handbooks. Bear in mind, however, that the IELTS Reading section is not all about reading. It is aimed at testing your comprehension, whether you understand what you have read or not. Practice the skills of scanning, skimming, and summarizing.
Since the actual IELTS test is conducted in a room that is incredibly conducive for the candidates, make sure you read in a place where it is quiet and comfortable for you. Your bedroom and living room will be the best options.
Here are some additional reading tips that could help you with your reading skills:
- Don’t panic.
- Manage your time well.
- Read the instructions very carefully.
- Remember the keywords in your head.
- Don’t expect to understand every word.
- Ignore everything you already know about a topic.
- Try to read as many articles as possible every day.
- Read (and reread) the questions first before reading the passage.
General Guidelines to Help you Prepare at Home
As a candidate, be mindful that being highly proficient in English will not be enough to achieve a high band score. Understanding how IELTS works is another important aspect you have to take into consideration.
We have listed the most common guidelines that you have to keep in mind while you are preparing for IELTS at home:
Guidelines for Preparing for IELTS Speaking
- Avoid using fillers.
- Don’t memorize answers.
- Don’t worry about your accent.
- Practice elaborating your responses.
- Improve your grammar and vocabulary.
- Practice being coherent when speaking.
- Learn a range of grammatical structures.
- Work on being ‘emotional’ on your practices.
Guidelines for Preparing for IELTS Listening
- Learn the skill of note-taking.
- Keep your focus while listening.
- Practice listening to things only once.
- Listen to as many practice tests as you can.
- Familiarize yourself with the different accents. (Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, British, American, and sometimes Irish)
Guidelines for Preparing for IELTS Reading
- Practice timed-reading.
- Improve your reading speed.
- Read as many materials as possible.
- Learn the skill of scanning, skimming and summarizing.
- Know your weakness in reading and work on improving it.
- Look up the meaning of unfamiliar words to improve your vocabulary.
- Develop the skills for each type of questions. (Multiple choice, sentence completion, True/False/Not Given questions, matching heading/paragraph questions)
Guidelines for Preparing for IELTS Writing
- Practice timed-writing.
- Study good quality samples.
- Apply capitalization and punctuation rules.
- Learn the structure and elements of writing.
- Practice writing with cohesion and coherence.
- Meet the word limit when writing practice tests.
- Improve your grammar, vocabulary and spelling skills.
- Practice and learn the skill of interpreting and explaining graphs, charts, tables, and diagrams.
These tips and tricks will surely help you while preparing IELTS at home. We also encourage you to do a full-length mock test at least twice before your test. Do it in the quietest place at your home where you think you could perform at your best.
What Are Some IELTS Exam Day Tips?
The day has finally arrived. You are now going to take the IELTS test. We know how hard you worked for it. We recognize the amount of time, effort, and preparation you have exerted for this day.
We are with you, and as much as possible, we want to help you with the best and guaranteed tips that could help you on the actual day of the test.
- Sleep and eat well a day before your IELTS test: The IELTS Reading, Listening and Writing sections take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to finish. There will be no breaks in between these tests. Ensure that you are well-rested and have eaten well. This is to keep your focus during the test.
- Get everything you need ready: You will need your ID on the day of the test. This ID should be the same ID that you used when you registered. You also need to bring pencils, erasers, and a water bottle in case you get thirsty during the test. Yes, drinking water is allowed.
- Know the location: Prior to taking the test, make it a point that you know where the testing center is. Search its exact location in Google. Whether you are commuting or driving yourself there, plan accordingly and have an idea of the flow of traffic in that area. Do not be late. This might cause you unnecessary stress and anxiety that will greatly affect your performance. Remember too that latecomers may not be allowed to take the test at all. Moreover, take note that the speaking test is held at a different date and location as the other three tests. Double-check these details.
- Wear comfortable clothes: Clothes are not part of the criteria on how you will be marked in any section of IELTS. Wear something that feels comfortable for you and will give you the confidence. Remember however to bring an extra layer in case it gets too cold because of the air-conditioning unit.
- Use the toilet before entering the testing room: Keeping your focus is extremely difficult when you feel like going to the toilet. Such situations can hinder your performance. So you are strongly advised to use the toilet before the test starts. If you can’t help it, you may be allowed to go to the toilet during the reading and writing tests. Be fully aware, however, that time is of the essence, and you should be saving it. Drinking less water an hour before the test will help.
- Concentrate on the test only, be calm: Taking a test that will affect your future is indeed nerve-wracking. Most candidates get too anxious and nervous that they couldn’t focus on the test. For some, they get distracted by other issues like overthinking of what the results will be. Some questions will be hard but try to stay calm and relaxed so you can do your best. If you have prepared well and enough, there is no reason to worry.
- Listen to and follow the instructions: Make sure that you listen and follow all the instructions in the test. Remember, even if you have the correct responses, if you don’t follow the instructions, they will be marked wrong. In case you have a question, do not be shy and do not hesitate to raise your hand to notify the invigilators that you need help.
- Skip the difficult questions at first: IELTS is a timed test. You do not have the luxury of spending too much time on one specific question. If you don’t know the answer to a particular question, we suggest that you skip it. Answer the next questions and if you still have time to answer those questions that you skipped earlier on, answer them. If you really don’t know the answer, make a guess. You will not be deducted marks for your wrong answers.
- Proofread your answers: Right after each test (except for the Speaking test), ensure that you proofread your answers for any mistakes you might have had. Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. These are minor details, but they contribute to your overall marks.
- Stay positive: The first step to achieve something is to think about it. Most candidates feel and think that they will fail even before taking it, and true enough, they did fail. Think positively and don’t think about failing. Be confident and believe in yourself. You did your best and you will succeed.
How to Develop Your English Skills and Capabilities?
We listen first, then talk, then read, and ultimately write when learning our native language. These are the four language abilities we need to master for complete communication: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Listening and reading are receptive: input, which refers to the amount of time you spend exposed to real-world language. On the other hand, speaking and writing are examples of productive output or the act of producing language as part of a language learning process.
For you to master these four fundamental language abilities, you must immerse yourself in English at all times; at home, at work, and in your spare time. Practice indeed makes perfect, so if you want to enhance a skill, you must practice it.
These are also the skills that you have to master when taking the IELTS test. Improving these skills is a gradual process, and we are here to guide you with the different strategies you can employ to develop your English capabilities.
How Can You Improve Your English Listening Skills?
It is a crucial component of learning any language. Effective listening ensures understanding and, among other things, improves speaking accuracy. By actively listening, we don’t only pay attention to what is being said but also to how it is being said.
Here are a few useful and proven suggestions:
- Listen to music and pay attention to the lyrics.
- The lyrics of the song will help you understand the song
- Watch movies, television shows, news, and the radio, repeatedly.
- Your ears will be familiar with the sound of the language even if you are not actually listening to it
- Attend online talks organized by English-speaking schools and communities.
- This will make you more familiar with a variation of accents.
How Can You Improve Your English Speaking Skills?
It is frequently the most difficult of the four language skills. Still, as soon as you start communicating in English, there are several opportunities to improve quickly while having a great time.
Here are a few useful and proven suggestions:
- Participate in voiced chats.
- This will boost your confidence in speaking without being judged.
- Talk to yourself and record it.
- It may sound silly but when you do this frequently, you will recognize ways on how you can improve.
- Speak to your classmates and work colleagues in English.
- You can eat together, play games and enhance your speaking skills at the same time.
How Can You Improve Your English Reading Skills?
Reading is a brain process that takes time to develop: your mind must attach meaning to the symbols that represent words, phrases, and expressions, as well as learn the grammar and structure of the language used in the section to read. It will be very beneficial to your future if you have excellent reading skills.
Here are a few useful and proven suggestions:
- Read English books and articles on the internet.
- The pictures will help you understand the book even if you don’t know all the words.
- Change your phone’s, computer’s, or tablet’s operating system to English.
- You can improve your vocabulary by associating a function to a certain word.
How Can You Improve Your English Writing Skills?
Although many people find it intimidating, anyone can learn to write with a bit of discipline and a willingness to learn.
Here are a few useful and proven suggestions:
- Make a list of phrases or expressions that you think maybe beneficial
- You will remember them better if you see them in sentences.
- Leave comments on English blogs.
- You don’t have to be an expert to submit a few phrases about your thoughts or feelings regarding the blog’s content.
IELTS Preparation Online Resources to Help You
Preparing for IELTS has never been this easy. Nowadays, thousands of websites offer materials that will help you score great bands. And the best thing about them is that most of them are free. All you need is your device and a good internet connection, and you’ll be good to go.
We have listed down some of the best online resources you can visit to help you prepare for IELTS:
- British Council IELTS Sample Tests
- IETLS.org Sample Test Questions
- IELTS Australia Free Sample Questions
- Grammar for IELTS Exam : Complete Guide
- Top 100 IELTS Phrasal Verbs
- Top Ways to Prepare for the IELTS Test
- How to Speak English Like a Pro
- How to Speak English Without an Accent
- How to Speak English Without Grammar Mistakes
Additional FAQs on IELTS Preparation at Home
How Much Time Do You Need to Prepare for IELTS?
A decent amount of time to prepare for IELTS is 6-8 weeks. This will give you enough time to prepare in all four sections of IELTS (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking) to get your desired band score. It will give you adequate time to build your English vocabulary, take multiple practice tests, and give you the confidence you need on the day of the examination. The longer you take to prepare and the more thorough your preparation, the higher the chances you will ace your test and attain an above-average IELTS band score.
Can I Prepare IELTS From Home?
Yes, you can prepare IELTS from home. These days, thousands of websites offer free materials to guide you while preparing for IELTS at home. They offer practice and sample tests to make you accustomed to the test formats of IELTS. You can also buy IELTS book guides and reading materials that will help you improve your grammar and vocabulary. With the help of a family member or a friend, you can also practice and enhance your speaking and listening skills. You can also check out the numerous free and paid online resources to help you prepare for the IELTS exam.
Are 10 Days Enough to Prepare for IELTS?
Ten days may be enough for some people to prepare for IELTS, depending on their readiness and proficiency in the English language. However, to a vast majority of people, it is not enough. As mentioned earlier, 6-8 weeks is the suggested and recommended amount of time to prepare for IELTS. This will give you ample time to prepare yourself gradually so you will be more confident by the time you finally have to take IELTS.