Anyone who has ever considered getting education in a foreign country sure knows that one of the admission requirements is a decent score on a standardized English test. There is a huge variety of such tests, and IELTS is one of the most widely accepted around the world. As many other language proficiency tests, IELTS is divided into four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking. These sections include various tasks that ensure adequate academic assessment of candidates’ knowledge.

IELTS was established in 1989, and since that time, the number of materials and tips on how to prepare to this test has grown significantly. However, when it comes to actual preparation, some applicants may feel overwhelmed by the amount of forthcoming work.

Where to start?

A good approach would be to find a sample test and try to pass it. That way, you can evaluate your knowledge and get acquainted with the types of exam tasks. It is quite likely that you would not be able to complete all the tasks in time, yet try to meet the time limitations. When you have finished working on a sample test, check it, and determine the weakest spots in your work. After this is done, start planning your further training. The good thing about studying for IELTS is that whenever you are working on one of the sections, you automatically enhance your proficiency in others. For example, when you exercise in Reading, you enrich your vocabulary, which is one of the keys for good academic writing and fluent speaking.

Listening and Reading Tips

Both Listening and Reading sections consist of 40 questions each. The exam will start with Listening, where you will hear three separate passages with different topics and types of speech (monologues and dialogues). Use your time wisely, and if you have an opportunity, take a glance at the questions, and try to anticipate, what kind of information you need to extract from the audio. Keep in mind, that your answers should grammatically match the examples in the task. In other words, if you need to fill the gaps in a table, and some cells are filled with gerunds, do not answer with verbs, as these answers will be considered as wrong. The key to a good score in Listening is being calm and focused. Don’t panic if you did not catch a word, it is quite possible that you would not need to use it, thus it is extremely important to keep listening attentively.

The Reading section lasts for one hour. It is a great opportunity to boost your overall score, as even if you don’t know the meaning of some words and don’t fully understand everything read, you still have very strong chances of finding the correct answer in the text.  Moreover, you can return to the texts as many times as you need. However, in order to meet the time limitation, you will have to work fast. Same as with the Listening tasks, it would be helpful to read the questions first. You can underline the necessary information as you read so that you can find it faster when answering the questions. If you experience difficulties with one of the questions, skip it and proceed with other tasks: you can return to it later if you have enough time. Nevertheless, don’t leave any blank cells in the answer sheet, since even if you have doubts about your answer, it can be the right one.

Describing tables and charts

The first task in Writing section may seem intimidating at first, but if you give it a second thought, you’ll agree that it is not that hard. The aim of this task is to evaluate your ability to interpret visual data. This task requires knowledge of some specific lexis to describe processes, phenomena, causes, effects, etc.  Thus, all you have to do is examine the given visual materials carefully, and write some of its main features. Be precise when you can, in other cases do not overthink about insignificant inaccuracies.

How to write an essay for IELTS Exam

The time limit for this task is about 40 minutes, so you should develop effective academic writing skills in order to perform well and in time. IELTS provides a wide range of topics and several main types of essays, which require different approaches in writing thus it is crucial that you read the topic thoroughly and understand what criteria must be reached. In this task, you may be asked the following:

  • Agree or disagree with a given statement
  • List advantages and disadvantages of a suggested subject
  • Discuss reasons and solutions for a problem.

Regardless of a topic, your essay should match the general structure: introduction, main paragraphs and conclusion. Professional essay writers recommend writing a detailed outline to organize your ideas before you start. However, due to the shortage of time given to complete the task, you may prefer to skip this step. In any case, take a few minutes to plan your writing, as this will prevent you from possible contradiction in your own statements.

The introduction should consist of 2-3 sentences. First, re-state the subject. Avoid using the same words and expressions as those in the topic. Second, define your attitude towards the topic so that it would be clear, what are you going to write about.

Unlike most academic essays, those, written for IELTS Exam are significantly shorter: only 2-3 body paragraphs, one for each new idea. Make sure that you don’t sound monotonous and use diverse grammar constructions, but if you don’t feel confident about some words or structures, try to find synonyms and rephrase your ideas. Naturally, you won’t be allowed to use dictionaries, gadgets, or any other essay assistance during the exam whatsoever, so you should only count on yourself and your skills. Therefore, the sooner you start your preparation for the exam, the better. You can buy essay online at to see what level of writing skills you are aiming for, and then use it as a model for your further training. In any case, you can excel in this section only if you dedicate your time to consistent practice.

What you should know about Speaking

Speaking is the shortest section of IELTS Exam, it takes only 11-15 minutes, yet it is one of the things that most candidates worry about a lot. This part of the test is designed to estimate the applicant’s ability to act in real-life interactions, express opinions and keep up a conversation in English. There is no need to stress out, as the examiners are friendly and helpful, they will try to assist you when it is possible, in order to make your responses more detailed and elaborate. However, do not misuse the examiner’s help and don’t let it lead you astray: stick to formal language and avoid slang. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be judged for your views, so it is not necessarily to be frank as long as your answers are eloquent.


No matter how important you find IELTS to be, it is just an exam, which can be re-taken unlimited number of times. In any case, it is a valuable experience that will help you with your further academic papers and tasks.