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The 5 Best Tips to Pass the IELTS exam

Hey, IELTS nerds!

Okay you don't really "pass" the IELTS. But you'll have a score you're aiming for according to your University or Visa entry criteria.

In this post, I'll cover the five best tips I've learned through my years of teaching thousands of students that you can use to maximise your IELTS score! So if you're trying to improve your IELTS score from your last test, or you're preparing for your first exam, you'll love my new guide!

What is the IELTS test?

The IELTS test, or International English Language Testing System, is a standardised English language proficiency exam for non-native English speakers. It's widely recognised by universities, employers, and government agencies in many English-speaking countries, such as the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The test assesses four core language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It's available in two versions:

  1. Academic - for people applying for higher education or professional registration.

  2. General Training - for those migrating to Australia, Canada, or the UK, or applying for secondary education, training programs, and work experience in an English-speaking environment.

The results are graded on a band scale from 1 to 9 and are valid for two years. The test is designed to provide a fair and accurate assessment of English language proficiency.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Pass the IELTS

Follow these strategies to easily pass the IELTS!

Step #1 Improve your English vocabulary.

In the speaking test, the examiner will consider your vocabulary as a factor of how good your English is. In the reading section, a strong vocabulary will help you get through the text passages quicker, and it'll help you understand more in the listening section obviously. As for the writing section... ehhh... you'll need IELTS-specific vocabulary.

The question is: What's the best way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS?

Obviously, YouTube is a great resource with plenty of English teachers to choose from to teach you lots of new English vocabulary.

Don't forget about reading. Academic materials such as news articles from sites such as The Times, The Guardian, The Economist, or my personal favourite: Popular Science. These will work better for growing your academic vocabulary for the IELTS. Make sure you're reading articles about subjects you're interested in, otherwise you won't really absorb it and you'll be wasting your own time.

Alternatively, you can practice with English-speaking friends! This is a great way to pick up natural speech patterns, intonation, and new vocabulary that really sticks with you!

Step #2 Don't worry about being perfect!

One thing my IELTS students keep repeating is that as soon as they hear the word "IELTS", they get nervous and even the easy things in English become difficult. My advice is the same for getting over any fear you have: You can't be scared and bored at the same time! Use this to your advantage! If you practice taking the IELTS again and again with past papers, online tests, and any material you can find, you'll eventually get bored of it. That's your perfect moment to take the IELTS!

Step #3 Improve your General English! That's how to pass the IELTS exam!

This might not be the answer everyone wants to hear, but it's so overlooked. Beyond test-specific practice, general improvement in English is essential to pass the IELTS exam. It always comes down to the fundamental question: Is your English good or not?

Ok how do you improve your General English skills for IELTS?

My answer, as I keep repeating in my videos, is to immerse yourself in English. Immersion schools work so well at making kids fluent for a good reason! The more you surround yourself with English, the more you live in it, the easier it'll be and the more natural it'll feel.

  • Reading: Read books, articles (again, ones you're interested in!), and use past IELTS test papers to practice reading the style of text passages you'll see in the real exam.

  • Writing: Practice writing essays, letters, and reports on various topics. Even keeping a daily journal writing about what you did and how you felt about it is enough to keep your brain happy!

  • Speaking: Participate in English-speaking clubs or online discussion groups.

  • Listening: Yes of course: Listen to English podcasts, watch movies, and lectures, and blahblahblah. But my favourite bit of advice for listening (and passively for speaking skills) is to look up debates on YouTube! This is a more entertaining way to practice your listening, especially if the topic is something you feel strongly about. It's more effective when you can attach emotion to learning!

Step #4 Take practice IELTS tests. Practice regularly.

This is the most important step! As Sun Tzu and Rage Against the Machine say: "Know your enemy"! Take it until it's boring. Just don't forget to take breaks and give your brain a rest.

I wouldn't recommend about 90% of online IELTS tests for accurate scoring. However, luckily The British Council has practice tests from past papers which are very good to practice with because these were used as real IELTS tests!

Step #5: Watch people taking practice IELTS speaking tests at different levels

Watching someone take a practice IELTS speaking test is your biggest asset here! YouTube has so many videos of ex-examiners giving mock IELTS tests and giving the test taker an idea of what score they could expect in the real test. They're also very good at breaking down the specifics of why they might achieve that score.

Bonus Step: Chill tf out

It might sound like a weird thing to say, but lower your expectations of yourself. If you expect only high-level performance from yourself at all times, you'll burn out! Just take it slow and you'll get there, even one step is a step in the right direction!

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the IELTS test scored?

IELTS results are reported on a 9-band scale. You will receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and an overall band score. These scores reflect your proficiency in English, ranging from 'Non-User' (band score 1) to 'Expert' (band score 9).

When will I receive my IELTS results?

Results are available 13 days after the paper-based test and 3-5 days post the computer-delivered test. IELTS Online results are typically available within 6-8 days.

Can I retake the IELTS test?

Yes, you can retake the IELTS test if you wish to improve your score. There are no restrictions on the number of times you can retake the test.

How can I book an IELTS test?

You can book here: and you'll also find tons of good resources from the British Council site too!

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