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Preparing and sitting for your IELTS can make you feel nervous and stressed. We understand what you may be feeling, so here are the top 10 IELTS study strategies that can help you prepare, gain confidence, and do your best in your test.

1. Utilise free resources

IELTS provides an array of official practice materials, many of which are completely free to access and use. Visit IELTS Prepare, from practice tests to short videos and webinars, there’s a learning resource for every type of test taker. You can filter the preparation materials by:


Content type

Test type

Test format

2. Create a study schedule

Discipline is the key to any successful study schedule. It can be all too easy to postpone study if you’re busy with other tasks, but creating a study schedule that you can stick to is critical to making sure you’re prepared on test day.

Sit down on a Sunday and think about any gaps in your schedule for the next week where you could fit in some studying. If you find it difficult to set aside larger chunks of time, start with a few blocks of 10 or 15 minutes throughout your day that you can use as mini-study sessions.

3. Get some one on one coaching

There’s no better teacher than someone who knows the IELTS inside and out. Connect with a personal coach who can assess which areas you need more focus on and help you develop your skills quickly. You can find a personal coach by speaking to other IELTS takers or searching online. 

To provide you with full confidence that your coach is an expert in all things IELTS, consider IELTS Assist. It allows you to organise mock writing, reading or speaking tests with an official IELTS expert. You’ll receive personalised feedback on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a tailored action plan to help you improve.

4. Immerse yourself in the English language

Not all study has to involve textbooks and pens. One of the best ways you can prepare for the IELTS is to simply immerse yourself in the English language as much as possible.

By watching movies and TV shows in English you’ll improve your listening comprehension. You can work on your reading skills by checking news sites or even scrolling social media in English. Take a few minutes to chat with the checkout operator at the supermarket or say hello to an English speaking neighbour to help develop your speaking skills.

You can even make a game out of this exercise by inviting fellow test takers to an ‘English only’ dinner; whoever forgets to speak English has to buy the next drink or appetiser!

5. Join a study group

Joining a study group is a great way to hold yourself accountable while having fun!

Connect with other test takers in your area and organise regular get togethers to study, quiz each other and provide helpful feedback in person. If you can’t find any study groups in your area, consider looking for (or starting!) an online study group that can meet via zoom, skype or google hangouts.

A good study group should have a plan for which skill they focus on each week. Spending one week on a particular skill and moving on to another skill the next week is a good way to ensure you’re getting a balanced study experience.

6. Study the assessment criteria

In order to score well on a test, you must understand what the test examiners are looking for. Take some time to read up on how the IELTS results are calculated and what kind of answers will help you achieve a higher band score.

IELTS provides the speaking test band descriptors which allow test takers to see in detail what sort of answers are marked highly by officials. Print out copies of the band descriptors for the skills you’re needing the most improvement on and consult them while you study.

7. Download podcasts and YouTube videos

When you want the perspective of former IELTS test takers, podcasts and YouTube videos can be a valuable resource. There are many IELTS focused YouTube videos and podcasts episodes that you can listen to while cleaning, commuting or even just taking a walk.

While you can gain interesting insights, it’s important to get them from credible and trusted sources. We recommend that you make the most of your free access to our official IELTS preparation materials on our website, IELTS by IDP app and our social media platforms.

8. Read a diverse range of articles

It’s important to be comfortable with written English in a variety of formats. The passages you may be asked to answer questions about in the IELTS test could be from a wide range of sources. To improve your chances of demonstrating competent reading comprehension on your IELTS, you should expand the English language reading materials you’re using to study.

Read as many varied materials as you can including books, newspapers, gossip magazines, online blogs and current affairs articles. If you’re taking the IELTS Academic test it’s a good idea to read from as many science or academic based journals, sites and articles as possible before test day.

9. Review your mistakes

When you receive feedback from a coach, fellow test taker or friend, don’t simply file it away and try again. Take the time to carefully review the mistakes you’re making and make a plan for improving that skill.

Are you mispronouncing words? Perhaps you could incorporate more English language podcasts or TV shows into your day and repeat what they’re saying to practise pronunciation. If you’re consistently using the wrong verb tense, create some flash cards you can review during any small breaks you have, or spend your next study session reviewing how to correctly use verb tenses.

10. Play games

Finally, make studying fun! While the IELTS is serious business, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the preparation. If you enjoy your study schedule, you’ll be more likely to stick to it and therefore be more prepared on test day.

Read up on fun games to play to practise English comprehension and turn your study group into a party!

Armed with these fool-proof study strategies, you’ll be ready to ace your IELTS in no time.

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