Getting Ready For Your Upcoming Exam

June 20, 2016 by Angela Rutherford

What To Do The Month, Week And Day Before Your IELTS Exam

The fact that you are reading this shows you understand how important your IELTS Band Score is to your future.You're wise to approach preparation seriously and creating a plan of action will reduce your stress and help boost your score.

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Ensuring your best performance takes time and effort. How much time you'll need will depend on how far you are from your goal, so BEFORE YOU REGISTER, be clear about a couple of things:

  • The kind of exam (general or academic) and the IELTS band score (up to 9) you require.
  • Your current level of proficiency.

If you aren’t sure, contact the institution, organization or office that requested the exam. The Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) course equivalencies for IELTS ratings can be found here. For example, you are likely to score 7 overall if you are at CLB level 9.

You can also get a sense of your level by doing practice tests found here.

Avoid disappointment - if your current score is 5 and you need 6, it will take more than a month to get yourself in shape. Generally, it takes 3 - 5 months of guided language study to move up one level on the IELTS rating scale.

Once you're sure of the goal and your ability to reach it, use this one-month plan to set yourself up for success.

ONE MONTH BEFORE - Make the Commitment

Call your nearest IELTS centre or apply online for the test. Your mind will shift into gear and you'll be more driven to apply yourself.

Get to Know the Exam

There are four different tests for both the general and academic exams: Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening.

Download Free IELTS Support Tools and Materials, as early as possible, attend a free IELTS Master Class online or ask your IELTS centre about a nearby workshop. These are presentations by IELTS professionals who go over the basic exam structure and they can give you advice.

Take an IELTS Prep Course to Strengthen Your Exam Taking Skills.

Get exam writing techniques and strategies from an expert who will go over common question formats and show you how to complete them quickly and correctly.

The exam is strictly timed so knowing what to expect will improve your test taking speed and increase your chances for success.

Create a Schedule and Follow It

Use the maximum amount of hours you can spare each day to focus on listening, reading, writing and speaking activities.

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Train hard but make sure to leave one day a week to rest and forget about the exam. Overdoing it creates stress and strain which is counter-productive.

Keep Calm and Speak English 225Practice Wisely

Just watching TV or listening to the radio isn't enough. Read and listen purposefully, summarizing what you understand in writing or explaining it to someone who can give you feedback.

Be bold and communicate in English as much as possible. Speak and write to others – real or imagined.

Reading quickly is invaluable. Short daily skimming and scanning exercises will increase your speed.

In addition to the course and official IELTS materials, use IELTS preparation books that practice all four test areas plus vocabulary and grammar which are important for higher level ratings.

Marshall Cavendish Education’s Achieve IELTS Grammar and Vocabulary and Cambridge’s Grammar for IELTS are two excellent choices.

ONE WEEK BEFORE - English Only

Get your mind fully in the game and let others know you plan to use English exclusively until after the exam.

Condition Yourself to Time Limits

Set a timer and talk for 2 minutes. Practice exam questions using the same limits set by the exam. A good sense of timing will put your mind at ease.

Go Over Details

Look over the Information for Candidates Booklet and Notice to Candidates to review the format of the test and the rules.

Know Where to Go

Plan your travel route. You might want to take a practice run to be sure you know how to get to the test centre and how long it will take. Allow for travel delays!


ONE DAY BEFORE - Prepare for Success

Gather your exam essentials: ID (MUST be the same as your IELTS application form ID), stationery (pens, pencils, erasers, sharpener) and sustenance (lunch, snacks, and a water bottle).

Lay out what you are going to wear. Choose comfortable but not sloppy clothes. If you look good, you feel good, and a positive attitude will make a difference - dress for success.

Stay Healthy

Get outside and take a walk if you can. Nature has many healing powers. Remember, you've done all the right things to prepare so give your mind a break today.

Eat healthy. Tomorrow will be a long day and you'll appreciate the energy.

Finally, set your alarm leaving time to have breakfast in the morning and to arrive for the exam on time. Set a second alarm at the time you should be leaving home.

Sleep well – you're ready for this!

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Angela Rutherford is an experienced English teacher and exam preparation coach who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. After a career teaching in Ontario public and international private schools, she established her own tutoring business and enjoys working exclusively with IELTS candidates who want to do their best on the exam.

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