Preparing for IELTS? Check Tips and Tricks to Crack Exam

The common English proficiency test taken worldwide, International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the primary requirement for admission to many institutions across the globe. It is, therefore, essential that you understand the test and adopt a strategy that works for you. The test requires you to have a basic understanding of standard English language rules. But, without a clear and easy-to-follow strategy, this may seem herculean for any test-taker.

The IELTS exam is conducted in two categories—General Training (GT) and Academic (AC). The IELTS Academic test has been developed for people who wish to study at a university or college as an undergraduate or postgraduate student or join/gain entry into a professional institution. But, if you want admission at the secondary education level, a college or education training centre, or to migrate to an English-speaking country, you will need the IELTS General Training test.


Some other important things you need to know about the exam are its format, structure and schedule. The test is divided into four parts — Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking (RWLS).

The reading and writing sections are 60 minutes long, the listening section is for 30 minutes, and the speaking section includes 11-14 minutes of interaction with an examiner.

There are two ways one can attempt the IELTS exam—computer-delivered and paper-based. For both the mediums, the test format, question types, time allocated to each section and content are the same since they are designed to reflect everyday situations. It is unbiased and fair for all test-takers coming from all backgrounds.


Before sitting for the test, you must understand the scoring system and how your final score will be calculated in IELTS. The IELTS preparation guide (you get it when you book the test) will tell you everything about the marks assigned to each of the four parts.

Each section is graded individually on a 9-band system and, later, added to calculate the average official band score. The Listening and Reading sections include 40 questions each and amount to 40 marks each.

Most test-takers score the maximum in these two parts, and so, experts advice candidates to prepare well for these parts. But do remember that you may have to score a certain band in each section depending upon your destination country and targeted institution, among others.


Vocabulary is a vital component of the test. About 25 per cent of your total marks—in the Writing and Speaking sections—will depend on your vocabulary. A daily reading habit will help greatly. Try to identify words you do not know and list their synonyms and antonyms. Try to make short sentences with these words to help you understand the usage of each word.

You must improve your reading speed. It will help you identify critical parts in a passage quickly. You can practice reading from websites that mention the average reading time of an article. Time yourself and finish the articles within the specified time. Continue till you reach 400 words per minute.

Then focus on tracing conjunctions. This will help you navigate a passage more accurately and efficiently. Pay attention to the lines where the authors present their opinion.


To improve your score in the writing and reading sections, create an idea bank—a list of words that are new to you, topics that you like, news articles of interest, a list of ideas relevant to your field of work and so on. This will add some variety to your sentences and improve your writing and speaking skills.

Ask your friends, family or batch-mates to feed questions and record your answers for the Speaking task. Listening to your recordings will also help you improve your speaking abilities.

Solve as many practice papers as possible and answer them within the time limit. It will help improve time management while taking the actual test.

Feedback from an expert on all sections is important for you to make fast progress by identifying your mistakes and working on the relevant skills. There is plenty of coaching available online for IELTS at a reasonable price. But make sure you go to the right people to get coached.

-Written by Ritu Rahul Rathod, Founder, Moonlight Musings

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