My IELTS Preparation in 5 Steps

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After registering for the test, I collected plenty of online resources so that I could understand more about the test and how the other candidates prepared for it. Here, I’ve compiled some of the preparation methods that worked well for me:

  1. Understand the format – I assume this is the most essential information everyone should know when registering for the test. Some questions needed to be figured out:  How is the IELTS evaluated? When and where can I take the test? How many times can I attempt the test? How can I prepare for the test? What should I bring during the test? When will my result be available? You can find these important information on the official website: IELTS Website
  2. Make a schedule – I organized my time table based on my level of competency in every section, for instance, I allocated two hours for writing and one hour for listening every day, then I stick to it until I finished my test. We can get some key information in IELTS video. Do not cram everything in the few days before the exam, because this will make you feel overwhelming and more anxious. Remember to set achievable goals specifically for every section, so that we know the distance between our exercise performance and targeted scores.
  3. Prepare own notes – There is a bunch of online resources out there waiting for us to explore, it’s free for candidates to read these materials from different sources and grab some free exercises for every type of questions.  After watching some videos or getting new material, I wrote down all the key points and revise them regularly. For writing part, I used mind maps to brainstorm new ideas and then develop these points into paragraphs. So I could easily organize all my ideas and how to put them together to form an essay. During the preparation phase, I liked to see how other candidates perform in the mock tests on YouTube: Speaking 5.5Speaking 6.0Speaking 7.0Band 8 and above.
  4. Prepare a list of phrases – There are some rules that I’ve learned during this phase. For essay writing, learn a variety of sentence structures so that you don’t repeat the same sentence again and again. Don’t tend to use overly lengthy sentence if you’re not confident to do so, just keep it simple and make sure you successfully convey your message to the examiner. Don’t memorize a long list of words, but understand these words in context. Reading aloud whenever you come across with a new phrase, we will stand a better chance of internalizing these phrases and making them our own for essay writing.
  5. Think in English – For speaking test, you should think in English and try to speak as much as you can. Join an online study group in any IELTS community to practice your speaking and writing. If you’re shy to find a partner for practicing speaking, there is an interesting method I’ve seen on YouTube, which is pretending you are talking to your friend on the phone in English. For essay writing, once you finish writing, send it to a friend or teacher for proofreading and ask for feedback. This really helped a lot when I was preparing for my test.

How about yours?

Do you have other steps for test preparation that you would like to share?

~ Photo credit (modified): Alberto G. / Flickr / CC BY-NC
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