Written by Yasmin Kamal


Preparing for your test can be daunting and leave you feeling incredibly overwhelmed about where to begin, which is why we have put together a series of useful steps to get you started.

Take a practice test

Guide your preparation, by taking a practice test to begin with and identify your weaknesses.  This is a critical part in your initial preparation that will help establish where your strengths and weaknesses are. Not only is it necessary to improve on your weaknesses, but it is equally essential to build up on your strengths to create a solid foundation for the examination. 

However, if you struggle to refrain from these mistakes or are unable to clearly identify them, you definitely need an expert by your side. Most test-takers consider taking an IELTS preparation course, one of the easiest ways to approach the test, as it focuses solely on getting you exam-ready for IELTS. 

Understand the test format

Before your begin practising, it’s extremely important that you know what to expect of the test format. Familiarise yourself with it by reviewing the content of the test, as well as the question and task types for each section. 

Remember the key to success in any examination and not just IELTS is a sound familiarity with the test pattern and format. 

Be aware of the exam time constraints

The clearer understanding you develop regarding the test structure, the higher your chances are to completing it successfully within the allocated time frame.

Conduct your preparation under timed conditions, so you become accustomed to the pace of the test.

Remember the IELTS test has a time limit and you will only have the time given for each module. If you are unable to complete the modules within the allocated time or if you cannot concentrate accordingly due to the timing pressure.

All preparation done in classes of a preparation course, are conducted under the same timed conditions as the exam, so you’re ready for the pace of the IELTS test.

Develop your English capabilities and IELTS strategies

One of the biggest mistakes students make is to focus only on IELTS. They do lots of IELTS practice tests but they forget to improve their English.

Most Indonesian IELTS learners are unaware of their current English level, which is often Intermediate or below, and do not consider or forget that IELTS is an English proficiency test. As such, your English is expected to be top notch.

Keep in mind that learning IELTS is a process. On average it takes 12 weeks to move up a score band by one point.  

Start preparing for your test at least 3 – 6 months prior. We highly recommend finding an institution which will help you with English development and IELTS strategies. 

Multitask when listening in English

It’s no secret that the IELTS test is demanding and the listening module is no different. You will have to provide answers to 40 questions throughout 4 recordings. The recordings will be played only once. Typical questions include sentence completion, summary completion, form completion and multiple choice.

It is not surprising to get lost during a conversation, but you need to recover fast or you will miss all the questions of that task afterwards. This would be a disaster.  As such, it is essential to understand how to follow a conversation, even if you miss something and how you can recover to continue answering the next questions. 

You are also expected to understand what type of information to supply depending on the question type. Is it a number, a name, an address?

Develop a wide range of reading skills

The sole purpose of the reading module is to test a wide range of reading skills. Reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

Test takers have to provide short answers, match information, complete sentences, match headings or complete diagram labels.

Ensure you practice includes a wide variety of questions so that you become accustomed to each type.

Timing is of the essence in the reading module and you simply will not have the time to go through the texts several times. There are strategies to help you to avoid this situation. For example, how to skim the text and what kind of information you need to focus on.

Use appropriate and assertive English terms when writing

The writing module is perhaps the one that most people struggle with. Both tasks in the academic training must be written in a formal style.

Task 1 requires that you describe and explain data, which you may be an expert at, this requires significant practice in English. 

Task 2 presents a number of challenges. Often, the topic given can be hard to develop if you are not familiar with it. In addition, the essay must have a proper structure.

You need to be prepared to answer both tasks and understand the requirements of each.

You should use appropriate language to complete Task 1 questions and ensure your practice includes the different types of charts (line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, tables, multiple data sources, processes, diagrams) to ensure you are prepared in the test.

For Task 2 question preparation, familiarise yourself with the structure of an essay, how to develop it, how to write the introduction and  the conclusion.  You must be able to connect your ideas using appropriate English. Additionally, practice writing about topics that are common on the IELTS so you become familiar with them.

A preparation course will you expose to you the different types of essays that commonly come up on IELTS such as: Agree or Disagree, Discuss two Opposing Opinions, Advantages and Disadvantages, Problems and Solutions, Causes and Solutions, Causes and Effects.

Speak with fluency or coherence in direct communication

This test is less than 15 minutes long and is split into three parts. The first 5 minutes are reserved for introduction and general topics between the test taker and the examiner. The second part assesses the test taker’s ability to speak about a random topic given on a task card. The last part merely adds complexity to the second. At this stage, the examiner will also pay attention to pronunciation, lexical resource and fluency.

Practicing each part under exam conditions is essential to your test preparation and will get used to the pressure you will have during the test. You need to be able to write down notes that will help you to talk for two minutes during the second part of the test.

You should also practice answering questions when you don’t really know the answer. Remember that your knowledge is not assessed but your English language proficiency is.

the effts he or she makes

Remember persistence is the key to success during the preparatory phase of the examination. 

Immerse yourself in English

Expose yourself to as much language as you can alongside your test preparation. Read things that interest you in English, online magazines or blogs can be a great place to start. 

Write some English every day, by writing a diary, keeping a blog or communicating with an online community such as people on a Facebook group that share an interest with you 

Listen to native speakers talking to one another and if possible join in. Try the ‘shadowing’ technique. This involves repeating what someone has just said in English.  This will help with pronunciation, intonation and stress. 

Bear in mind self-learning is possible as long as you are committed and find someone who is able to give you feedback.

If you are unable to commit or cannot find a suitable partner, find an institution that can guide you and give feedback.