Best Practices for your IELTS Preparation Group

January 2, 2018 by Tony Rusinak

We all have different reasons for taking the IELTS. A few years ago, I needed the IELTS to complete my certificate to practice immigration in Canada. In the immigration course, my classmates and I all needed an IELTS 7+ or no certificate. Because I already knew a lot about IELTS and was a native English speaker, I didn’t worry too much. However, some of my classmates whose English wasn’t so good, were quite stressed. At that point, I was able to help them, just as they helped me during difficult assignments in our university course. The point is, whatever the challenge, it’s often better to work together towards a goal, then to attempt it alone. Maybe you are applying for university with your classmates, you could be immigrating with your family, or you might need to renew your work permit with co-workers… whatever it is, remember that two heads are better than one.

Finding a Study Group

Who to study with? Depending on your situation, it may or may not be easy to find people to prepare for your IELTS test with. There are many things to consider. Do they live near you? Does their schedule match your schedule? Can you trust them to meet you? Do you get along well? Do they speak your language (be careful, speaking your own language might be a time-waster!)? Are they taking the same test, Academic or General? Is their test date similar to yours? There are so many questions. So, before you just agree to work with someone, make sure they are the right match.

Hire an IELTS tutor

One great way to study efficiently is to hire a tutor. To make it affordable, share the study fee with a partner or a group. It’s a popular thing to do. There are a lot of amazing English teachers out there. Some of them specialize in helping people prepare for the IELTS. Try to find an experienced teacher who both knows the IELTS test and knows how to teach language. A teacher will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, develop fun and interesting activities, and take the stress out of planning your prep time.  

Constructive Criticism

For all of us, being criticized is hard. Nobody likes others pointing out our mistakes. However, as we all know, this is an important part of the learning process. When you are studying together, have an open mind. Welcome criticism from your study-mates and, equally, return helpful criticism to them. Just remember to stay respectful, positive, and focused on the IELTS skills.

Sharing Materials

Some people spend lots of money on preparation materials, others take hours and hours finding free stuff online. Sometimes the preparation materials are useful and easy to use, sometimes they are a total waste of time and money. Sharing our best preparation materials and websites is a great way to get the most of your time. So, whenever you are together with your group, make sure you take some time to share.

Assigning Tasks

Get everyone involved! One fun way to learn specific skills on the IELTS is to assign tasks to each group member. What do I mean by this? For example, if you have four people in your study group, have each person prepare a practice task for each skill. So, John prepares a 30-minute writing practice. Wang prepares a 30-minute speaking practice. Sarah gives everyone a 30-minute listening practice, and Mirium delivers the 30-minute reading activity. What a great two hour IELTS study session!

Team Commitment

As the famous automobile tycoon, Henry Ford, once said, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." So, although it might be easier and more convenient to stay home and study alone, you might be short-changing yourself. Find a group of motivated, positive, team-players to prepare with. You might achieve more for everyone!

Remember, IELTS tests English language

Lots of people often forget this. IELTS tests language. It’s a simple fact – if your everyday English improves, your IELTS test will probably improve too. So, when you’re together with your group, USE YOUR ENGLISH! Don’t waste time and opportunity by speaking your own language. Text each other in English. Discuss the IELTS tests in English. Chat in English. Make your notes in English. Organize your notes… in English! You get the picture.


Key Term Meaning
at that point the moment in time during a process
renew to update something, usually a licence, membership, passport, visa or similar document
two heads are better than one two people working together are smarter than one person alone
specialize to focus on expert knowledge of a specific skill or area
constructive criticism helpful advice from those around you 
short-changing giving less than needed
get the picture get the main idea



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