Home >> IELTS Tips

IELTS Tips

We have already discussed how the IELTS test is conducted. This section will give you many hints and tips on taking the IELTS test. We want to give you the opportunity to get your best possible result from the IELTS test and these IELTS tips will help you to reach this goal.

This page gives general hints and tips about the test. IELTS tips specific to the individual modules, listening, reading, writing and speaking, are given on their own pages.

Before The Test

Clearly, you need to be in the best possible condition for the IELTS test. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and thereby control your nervousness. Many of the following IELTS tips may seem obvious, but you would be surprised to find how many candidates fail to put them into practice.

One thing you can do is find out as much as possible about how the test is conducted before the day of the test. You can do that by reading our pages on how the IELTS test is conducted. Knowing what is going to happen will put you in a much more relaxed frame of mind on the day of the test. If you still have questions about the test be sure to contact your test centre to get answers. Don't leave it until you arrive or you will start the day stressed.

We would also recommend that you make a note of the result you expect to get. If you can break this down into individual modules, do so. Make sure your expectations are realistic; use the definitions for each level provided by IELTS and reproduced on the IELTS result page. The reason for this is to allow you to analyse your results when you receive them. Later on this page we make further suggestions about making 'Post IELTS Test Notes' for the same purpose.

On the day before the test carefully re-read the instructions that the test centre sent you. Get everything you need for the test together and then forget about them until the next morning. Make sure you have the same ID that you used for your application and anything else the test centre has told you to take. You would also be wise to re-read the "Rules and Regulations" and "Advice and information" you saved from your application form.

Try to get a good night's sleep before the day of the test. Our advice is that the evening before the test you do something to take your mind of it. That could be just watching TV or you might want to go out for a drink with your friends. Just don’t do anything that will leave you feeling tired next morning. You should wake up feeling fresh and bright!

Do not spend the evening studying for the exam! The IELTS test is not an exam that you can cram for. Don’t think you can swat up the night before to improve your result. The best way to ensure you reach your potential is to be relaxed.

Test Day

You need to be as relaxed as possible. Of course you’re nervous, this is an important exam for you, but you will do better if you can control your nerves. People have different ways of dealing with nerves. If you have a technique that works for you be sure to use it - and allow plenty of time for this.

Set off for the test in plenty of time. Make sure you set off early enough to easily reach the test centre on time. If you arrive late you will not be allowed to take the test and if you find you are cutting it a bit fine your stress levels will soar!

You will have to leave your belongings outside the exam room so don't take anything that you might worry about. It is better not to take anything of value with you because, although the test centre staff will look after it carefully, you might still be concerned about it being stolen. You don't need this extra stress. And definitely do not be tempted to take things into the exam room that are not allowed. For example, you might be reluctant to leave an expensive mobile phone outside the room but if you take it into the room you will be disqualified from the test.

This may seem obvious, but make sure you use the toilet facilities before going into the exam room – preferably before having your ID checked. You will have read that the exam takes about 2 hrs and 45 minutes. In practice it could be in the exam room for up to four hours or more. You can only go to the toilet during this time if accompanied by IELTS centre staff. You will not be allowed to go while instructions are being given. In practice, this means that you will only be able to go to the toilet during one of the tests losing valuable examination time.

My advice is that you do your best to avoid going to the toilet at all during the IELTS test. Make sure you go when you arrive at the test centre and don’t drink large quantities of liquid before the test. The Rules and Regulations state: "You must not… Smoke, eat or drink in the examination room". However, some test centres will allow you take water into the exam room - check first. We are not suggesting you dehydrate yourself but do be careful with your liquid intake before the exam so that you can complete it without having to visit the toilet.

After The Test

After the exam do not discuss the questions with other candidates. There is no way you can change your answers now and you’ll only end up feeling depressed even if there is no reason to be. However, it is worth spending a few minutes quietly by yourself considering what you have been through. The reason we suggest this is because when you get your results, you will have something to relate them to.

Earlier we suggested you make a note of your expected results before you sit the exam. Now you should make some "Post Test Notes". Make a note of how you think you actually did on each module. Did you do better or worse than expected?

If you feel there are any particular reasons for doing worse than expected, make a note. You may feel that you just don’t have the English level you thought you had. Or perhaps your timing was out and you were unable to complete one of the writing tasks. These are the kinds of things you should be making a note of.

If, for some reason, you are unhappy with the way the test was conducted you should not only make a note of it but also complain to the IELTS Test Centre. You should also note any other problems that could impact your score. These may be outside the control of the test centre, a short evacuation due to a fire alarm for example, or through faulty equipment.

If you consider the test day conditions affected your performance you must report this on the day of the test and complete a "Test Day Complaint Form" in order to seek redress. This is one occasion when talking to other candidates after the exam might be useful. If they also had the same problem ask them to complain to the test centre, too.

Keep your "Post IELTS Test Notes" somewhere safe and then try to forget about the exam.

When you get your IELTS results you can check your actual scores against your "Post IELTS Test Notes" and if your results are not good enough, use these notes to help you consider your options. We have a section on this site that discusses the IELTS result and what you can do if your IELTS result is too low.

We hope these IELTS tips will help you get the IELTS result you are capable of!

For information on how to prepare for the IELTS test, check out our IELTS Preparation and IELTS Resource pages.

Print this page: Print this page
© Your IELTS Guide 2005-2017