Test Day Do’s and Don’ts

April 11, 2017 by Tony Rusinak

You've been preparing for the IELTS for months. You need a high score. You know that your English has improved a lot in the last year or two. Finally, test day is here. For some it’s emotional, for others it’s stressful. Some just think it’s a walk in the park. Whatever the case, there are things you can do to maximize your chances of getting the best score you can. The following are eight smart ways to make sure that your test day is a success. 

1. Where’s your passport? As you know, IELTS is a very secure test with strict rules. Throughout the test, you will be asked for your government issued ID or passport. I suggest bringing both. IELTS is similar to the airport in this respect. Can you imagine travelling without your passport? Don’t forget it!

2. Know the location. Once in a while, you can see an IELTS test taker running super-fast down the street. They are looking for taxis, buses, bicycles, and some are even thinking about stealing a car. Why? They went to the wrong test centre.

Many cities have multiple test locations. Sometimes the speaking test is in a different location from the reading, writing, and listening tests. Make sure you know your test locations. Also, make sure you have the correct map and directions. If you are late, you might not be able to take the exam!

3. Give yourself the whole day. Imagine trying to do a speaking exam while your parents are waiting for you at the airport. No fun! When you consider travel time, registration, the speaking interview schedule, and the other three exams, IELTS can take the whole day. Make sure you don’t schedule other plans around these times. If you try and do too much on test day, it might stress you out and affect your performance.

4. English dreams, English thoughts, and English chats. Other than native English users, we all love to converse in our first language. It’s our culture. Our good friends and family speak it. It is how we live. However, IELTS is not testing you on non-English language skills. It is an English skills test. One of the best ways to prepare for a language test it to have your English brain fully turned on and warmed up. So, speak, listen, chat, text, watch, and do everything in English
during the days before the test. Your brain and your IELTS score will thank you.

5. Don’t cram. It might work for a history exam, but IELTS has been developed by language experts from around the world to get an accurate read on your true language abilities. It is impossible to cram in English the night before because you’ll have no idea what topics will be on the test. Of course, do some practice tests in the weeks and months before, but don’t cram. Relax. Sleep. Eat a big healthy breakfast, and be ready for anything.

6. I’ll just cheat my way to an IELTS 7.5! Huh? Are you crazy? Maybe you bought an essay online once and got an A+. Maybe you sat next to a really smart classmate and got 100% by copying. Or maybe you will wear Google Glasses to the test.

Don’t do it for IELTS! There is a reason IELTS is the immigration and academic test of choice for the top institutions in the world. This is because it is secure. Very secure. IELTS invigilators and examiners are some of the strictest, best trained, and observant professionals in the language testing world. So, chances are, if you cheat you’ll either be really stressed and get a terrible mark or get caught cheating and get no mark at all!

7. Stay positive. There is a huge amount of research that proves positive and confident people do better on language tests. You worked hard to learn this language. You are an intelligent person with a bright future. Believe in these facts and smile about it!

8. Know the marking system. One of the best ways to score high is to give IELTS what it wants. It wants a clear sample of your speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills. What does that mean? As you know, every language test is a little bit different. To know specifically what the test is looking for, attend a masterclass or review the IELTS scoring guide.


Bonus IELTS task - Vocab check. Try and define the italicised terms from the above article without a dictionary. The answers are below.


ANSWERS a walk in the park: something quite easy to do | maximize: the most or highest amount | multiple: many |

converse: chat | observant: watching something very carefully



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