How to prepare for IELTS? A Complete Guide - A.I.B.E | Aadharsila Institute of Basic Education

How to prepare for IELTS? A Complete Guide

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration. It is designed to help people who want to migrate or settle abroad or who want to study abroad, where English is their native language. The countries which take IELTS scores are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. This article will take you on a journey on how to prepare for IELTS?

Importance of IELTS

More than 11,500 organizations globally trust IELTS. It is the most popular and well recognized by educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies around the world. As one of the oldest tests for English language proficiency, it continues to set the standards for English language testing today.

Understanding IELTS

IELTS is jointly owned by IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. IELTS has been developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts and will test the full range of English skills needed for success in your new job or study placement abroad. IELTS exam is given by candidates to move abroad majorly for two reasons; for studying and for settling abroad.  Students who want to move abroad for studies need to give IELTS – Academic and people who want to move abroad for PR need to give IELTS-General.

Format of the Test

There are four sections in IELTS: Reading, listening, speaking and writing. There is no passing and failing marks for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Test. Scores are graded on the 9-band system. In reading and listening section, there are total 40 questions in each section. Each section which ranges from band 1 to 9. Each university/institute or organization sets its own level of IELTS scores to meet its individual requirements.

Different Section of IELTS

There are four sections in IELTS Exam and one needs to have separate approach to ace each section. Let us discuss it one by one.

  1. Writing Section – In this section essay writing is common to both general and academic students. The total duration is 40 minutes and word limit is 250 words. There are four categories of essay which one needs to be familiar with viz: problem solution, merit demerits, opinion based and discussion based. It has more weightage than task 1. One needs to structure the essay in different paragraphs and each paragraph should be logically connected. In the task one of writing section there are separate topics for academic and general candidates .For general, it is letter writing. In this section, all bullet points need to be addressed .The task is for 20 minutes and word limit is 150 words. The letter can be formal, informal and semi-formal. For academic students, the task is reporting an image. Again one gets 20 minutes to finish this task and word limit is minimum 150 words. Images asked are generally table, pie chart, line graph, bar graph, maps and process cycle .It can be a single image or a combination of two.
  2. Listening Section – IELTS Listening Section is same for general and academic candidates. There are total 40 questions and total time to solve is 30 minutes.10 minutes extra are given to candidates who are pen and paper based exam. In listening, one hears four different recordings viz: a conversation between two people based on social context, a monologue based on local facilities; like a garden in your neighborhood. Recording 3 is a group conversation for an assignment and recording 4 is a monologue on an academic lecture. There are variety of question types which ae tested viz: multiple choice questions, form, table, note, flowchart completion, short answer questions, and sentence completion, matching features and labelling a diagram.
  3. Reading Section – IELTS Reading Section consists of 40 questions and three sections R1, R2 AND R3. The reading section is different for academic and general candidate. However, the topics remain more or less the same. The topics include true, false, not given, yes, no, not given. This is the most important topic as one gets 5-13 marks questions from this topic. There are other topics also like Matching features, Matching headings, matching information and matching sentence endings. Out of these, one can again expect two types. Then we have completion questions like note, table, flowchart, sentence, diagram, summary completion questions. Again one can expect 3-4 types out of these in the exam. Other than these there is short answer questions and multiple choice questions: single and multiple where again a 5 -7 marks questions can be asked. One needs to learn the tips and tricks on how to improve Ielts score for each topic and finish each section in 20 minutes so that one can complete the entire paper.
  4. Speaking Section- This is held on a separate date. There are three parts in speaking : Part 1 is general introduction which is an ice breaking round where general questions about a candidate’s name, place , hobbies, family ,what he does, neighbors, sports, food ,TV channels he watches. Part 2 is a que card based question, where a question followed by three –four sub points are asked and a candidate needs to answer that. One gets one minute to prepare and 2 mins to speak on the topic. This is the most scoring topic. One needs to speak non-stop for 2 minutes to get a good score. Part 3 is a discussion-based round , also known as question and answer round where a candidate is asked questions and he needs to give lengthy answers with reasons .The total speaking is for 11-14 minutes.

Tips On How To Approach Each Section Of IELTS And How To Prepare For IELTS


  • One should remain calm when speaking and speak effortlessly. It means that one should be natural while speaking and speak what fits the context. The examiner must not feel that you have memorized the pre-prepared templates. 
  • Do not use a fake accent. Rather than a made-up accent, you should focus on clarity and coherence. Fake accent and forceful use of “high-level words” will not impress the examiner. Use phrases or idioms only if it strengthens the speech.
  • Keep your answers to the point. Round 1 should be precise. Round 2, speak fluently for 2 minutes and for Round 3, one should give answers relevant to questions and stop after that. Do not let the examiner lose focus.


  • Reading section is of 1 hour and there are three parts in it. One should give 20 minutes to each section.
  • Remember that time is the most important resource that you have, so you must allocate it judiciously.
  • It is not necessary to read the question first, and then read the passage to figure out where the answer is. You can read the text quickly to get an idea of the content. You save time this way as you know which part of the text has the answer. 


  • One should allocate some time in brainstorming before beginning to write. One should start with writing down bullet points and then write essay.
  • Your answer should have coherence. In addition to this, flow from idea to another must be seamless and should not be abrupt. Make sure to use the transition words correctly.
  • One should divide the time wisely between Task 1 and Task 2. Task 2 is longer and requires more time and analysis. This habit will come with mock tests and practice.
  • Save the last five minutes for proofreading. Ensure there are no spelling and punctuation errors. 


  • In this section, focus is the vital point. You must remember that the audio is played only once. So it is advised that you stay focused.
  • Focus on the whole question, rather than looking for keywords in it. Two questions can contain one keyword but can be completely different. Keywords only tell you the context of the question, not the answer.
  • Write your answers simultaneously as the tape plays.
  • Similar to the reading section, look at the complete question and listen closely. You will be required to read, write and think at the same time but most of your time needs to be spent listening.

How to Prepare for IELTS?

It is quite difficult to mention how many days it may take for someone to prepare for IELTS. It depends upon the proficiency in English of the candidate. However, the average preparation time for IELTS is 30 -60 days. Depending upon your command of the language, it may take you less time. 

Tips On How To Create A Study Schedule?


The listening section of the IELTS test comprises four subsections with 10 questions each. This section needs to be completed within 40 minutes usually, the preparation time for the listening section can range between one to two weeks. Listening to mocks and watching videos with different English accents, news, podcasts, book recordings, etc. can prove helpful while preparing for this section and ace your listening skills as well.


Lasting 60 minutes, the writing section can be divided into two types. To prepare for this section, the participants need to practice writing different types of essays and get into the habit of brain storming. Similarly for general candidates, one needs to practice letter writing and for academic, one needs to get use to different types of images like graphs, tables etc. and practice it. 2weeks time is required to write essays and practice tests. Rest depends on the English skills of the candidate.


There are 40 questions in the reading section, one needs to get use to different types of questions and practice sectional tests and mocks to get the desired score. IELTS General Exam syllabus consists of everyday English topics such as newspapers, advertisements, handbooks, etc. Studying journals, magazines, books, research articles, etc., are recommended for academic IELTS preparation. One again needs 14 days at least to prepare this section.


The IELTS trainer interviews the candidate in this section. It is 15 minutes long and has three sub-sections. Test takers need to practice with a partner and focus on minimizing fillers and perfecting pronunciation. Practice daily for 10 minutes either with a friend or by self-recording the topics.

Importance Of Taking Practice Tests

Taking mock tests are very important as one needs to identify your weakness and work dedicatedly on it. One should set a goal in mind and work dedicatedly towards it. One should have a strategy in place to attempt all the four IELTS sections. You should include practice tests under test conditions every week in your study plan. It’s better to do most of your practice tests during the final 25% of your preparation time. Practicing mock test is the best way to prepare for IELTS.

What to Expect on Test Day?

As your test day approaches, it’s important to know what to expect before, during and after you take your IELTS test. Make sure you arrive early and have all the necessary documents with you as the check-in process may vary between test venues. After you have checked-in, you will be able to lock away your personal belongings before you will be guided to your seat by a test invigilator. After this point you won’t be able to talk to fellow test takers. Once the test begins, keep track of time so you have enough time to complete each part of the test. If you have any questions, you can raise your hand to get the attention of an invigilator. Once the test concludes, you can leave the test room and collect your belongings. Your provisional test results will be available online 3 to 5 days after taking IELTS on a computer or 13 days after sitting an IELTS on paper test. Your official Test Report Form (TRF) can be picked up from the test venue or mailed to you.


With a practice IELTS test, you can refine your multitasking abilities. The more you strengthen your communication skills, the better your listening skills, writing skills, and reading skills become. You learn to work all sections into one, begin to solve tasks altogether and avoid distractions. Calm your nerves. It is just a test. Give your best and believe in yourself. Learn how to prepare for IELTS from our lead expert at Aadharsila Institute for Basic Education.


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