Tips for Success: A Candidate’s Perspective

January 8, 2018 by IELTS

There are numerous resources listing tips for a successful IELTS experience. Even though this type of information is useful, it can be just as helpful and very reassuring to hear from students who have succeeded on the IELTS test. Here are some tips from candidates who have studied, taken the test, and succeeded in getting the score they needed.


“Practice, practice, practice.” - Abdulmalik

“Practicing with focus on what you need to improve your IELTS score is my crucial tip because practicing allows you to know your common mistakes and allows you to improve every time you practice the exam.” - Rawan

“Practice is important because you will be more familiar with the type of questions on the IELTS exams and the more you practice, the better score you can get.” - Seba

“Besides enhancing your English level through reading books, having conversations, and watching movies, I advise you as an IELTS student to practice and keep doing exam models with focusing [sic] on what is required from you, specifically to get the score you want.” - Rawan

Practicing is the most crucial advice you can get for the IELTS test. Practicing can come in different forms. Everyday practice such as watching movies and joining a conversation club helps with your fluency and accuracy while more focused practice such as doing practice IELTS tests helps you become more familiar with the test and the questions that most commonly appear. It is also important to identify your weaknesses so you can practice improving those areas instead of focusing on areas where you are already strong.

Time Management

“Timing yourself is very important.” - Maha

“Always have a timer when practicing because one of the biggest reasons why people do not perform well is that the time is too short for them to manage their writing in a well-organized way.” - Christina

“Managing time is very important for me because time is a major issue in IELTS, especially in reading and writing.” - Seba

Practicing and time management go hand-in-hand. When you practice doing mock IELTS tests, you should always be timing yourself. This will allow you to assess yourself in exactly the same way as the live test. Allowing yourself extra time while practicing on any section of the test does not help because the time is not accurate. Also, trying to do a section as fast as you can may also be harmful and a potential cause for sloppy mistakes compared to someone who has good time management in each section as they will know how better to pace themselves and write the best test possible, without running out of time.

You are not allowed to go overtime during the actual test. If you try to write past the allotted time, you will be asked to stop and you may not receive a test report. This means you will not receive a score. Therefore, time management is critical on the IELTS test.

The Testing Environment

“Practice in a quiet area yet is full of people as this atmosphere is similar to the real test.” - Maha

Simulating the actual testing environment is great advice. Many candidates get nervous once they get into the real test situation. Simulating real testing situations such as timing and seating arrangement may take those nerves away. If you have only ever practiced the test alone in a quiet room you may not be developing the concentration skills needed to do well in a live testing environment.


“From my experience, the best tip to prepare yourself for the test is to take an IELTS preparation course. I read about the test a lot and I did hundreds of online examples but nothing helped me as much as the teachers and the interactive communication.” - Roa

Preparation courses are an excellent tool for practicing for the IELTS. They offer both test and real day situations, exam practice with accurate timing, and much-needed feedback for each individual taking the course. Candidates can take courses in person or online and both are beneficial. However, be careful of some websites that offer exam preparation for a fee. It could be costly and the information may be available for free. Search out accredited institutions that administer the IELTS test for the best possible experience.

Being Well-informed

“Considering the assessment criteria and the band score helps you to focus directly on improving what you need and what is required for the improvement. That helps you to focus on the level of English of that determining score, and what key points you need to pay attention when you are practicing and studying IELTS.” - Rawan

The speaking and writing criteria are publicly available for all candidates taking the IELTS exam. Reading through these may be useful as they discuss key points that are needed for each band score. You may not understand all of the information but you will get a good idea of what is expected of each candidate. If you’re between two band scores, addressing some of the points may help you to move up to the next level.

IELTS Experience

“I think if you have the budget, you should take the test just to see your strengths and weaknesses because everyone has their own.” - Maha

Many candidates like to take the IELTS test without studying to get a baseline of the test and their own abilities. This is great advice, as long as you have the time and money. After taking the test for the first time, you can identify your weaknesses and focus on improving those areas as you progress.

Taking the IELTS exam can be a challenging task but hearing from other candidates can be reassuring. They have done the test and know what it takes to get the score they need.


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