Few Simple Tips for IELTS

International English Language Test System (IELTS) is one of the most well-known English tests all around the world. It is for people who wish to go abroad either for studying or for a living. There are two types of IELTS (Academic Purpose and General Training). I have experienced taking IELTS twice. Therefore, I have learned quite well about it. I did not prepare well when I took IELTS for the first time and the result was not satisfying. So, I decided to retake it a year after it, and I was satisfied with the result.

I  surely believe that most people are already familiar with IELTS before they decide to take it so, I will not talk about its general information. In case, you want to find more information about it, you can go to the IELTS Official Website. In this post, I would like to share a few simple tips that I have learned from my experiences and I hope it is useful for those who wish to take them.

I. Listening Tips 

  • Read the questions carefully
  • Find the keywords by underlining the main ideas in the sentence
  • Predict the answer whether it is a noun or verb or adjective
  • Think of synonyms of words you hear (for part 3)
  • Be careful with grammar and tense (for example singular or plural or capital letter)
  • Predict the word form of the answer from a sentence that is given
    Focus on the last words that you hear (normally, there is an abstract in the conversation)
  • Repeating words must be the answers
  • Any spelling words are the correct answers
  • Be careful with numbers (15 or 50)
  • Name, place, the address must be in capital letter
  • Change the word form to fit “NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS” (for example reliable flow of water -> reliable water flow)

II. Reading Tips

  • Skimming for a general idea (Do NOT read the whole text)
  • Scanning for specific information (to look for keywords)
  • Read the first sentence of each paragraph to get the main idea
  • Use the 15-20-25 rule (15min for the 1st passage, 20min for the 2nd passage, and 25min for the 3rd passage)
  • Underline keywords in the paragraph and questions
  • Find the synonyms of keywords in questions and paragraph
  • Write a short summary of each paragraph (to know what paragraph talks about)
  • Use a form of answer as an example to write the following answers
  • Prepositions such as in, of, and articles (a, an, and the) also count for one word
  • Answer the easy question first
  • True: Agree with the statement in a paragraph (but in different words)
  • False: Disagree with the statement in a paragraph (opposite to the paragraph)
  • Not Given: No information in the statement
  • Fill in the gap: prediction the type of answer (whether noun or verb or adj or single or plural) by reading the words next to the blank space
  • Remember that one paragraph answer one question in each question section
  • Write the exact words as given in the paragraph
  • Be careful with grammar and verb tense

III. Writing Tips

Writing Task 1:

  • Read the instruction carefully
  • Paraphrase the topic of writing task 1 using synonyms of keywords in the topic.
  • Look for the main features
  • Point out the outstanding figures
  • Explain the overall trends and some key details
  • Decide/draw an outline of how many paragraphs you want to write.
  • Decide what is the main topic of each paragraph
  • Use a variety of comparison languages to explain similarities and differences
  • Use conjunctions (although, despite, whereas, while…) when using the adjective of comparatives (higher, more dramatically, ..)
  • Think about the verb tense to use in writing (whether present or past tense)
  • The passive tense is always useful for writing a report on the process
  • Use linking words to write a report of a process (first, next, then, second,..)
  • Be careful with time-framed
  • Use the reference structure like “according to, the table shows that, …”

Writing Task 2:

  • Type of essay: agree/disagree essay (yes or no), discussion essay (both points of view), problem and solution essay
  • Agree / disagree essay: use four-paragraph-structure to write (introduction, text body (supporting paragraph, opposing paragraph, conclusion),
  • Find 3 supporting ideas and 1 opposing idea
  • Use questions and personal experiences to support arguments
  • Use conjunction (although, however, and, but)
  • Use synonyms to avoid repetition of the same words and sentences
  • The ideas must be well-organized and link from one to another
  • Discussion essay: use discussion questions in the introduction like in the assignment
  • Provide cause and effect points in a discussion essay
  • The ideas must be relevant to the topic question
  • Write a topic sentence to introduce ideas for each paragraph
  • Express your opinion but not in a hasty manner.
    Use introductory phrases (personally, I admit, unfortunately, importantly)
  • Use connecting expressions (it is true that, as a result, while, so that, in conclusion)

IV. Speaking Tips

  • Speak nonstop until the committee ask you to stop
  • Speak naturally like you’re talking with friends (don’t be nervous)
  • Clear pronunciation and fluency
  • Use linking words (well, hmm, actually, anyway, etc)
  • Use eye contact to communicate and reduce stress
  • Use gestures to reduce feeling nervous
  • Flexible ideas for part 3
  • Try to think of as many as possible ideas to answer the questions including example
  • Use the introduction and conclusion like writing
  • Don’t repeat the same words, use synonyms
  • Use correct grammar tenses and a variety of forms
  • Each idea should connect well and logically
  • Ask the committee to repeat the question if you are not sure about the question (it will give you a score)
  • Ask the committee to change the topic if you have no idea about it; otherwise, it’ll be difficult in answering the following questions.

Even though the tips are important but the practice is even more important. Tips are nothing without practice. Because I was busy with my work and other stuff, I did not have much time to practice, so my result is not really high yet which is acceptable. Therefore, it is really necessary to keep practicing again and again until you feel confident enough to take the test. Using these tips for practicing is strongly recommended. You also can find hundreds of sources for the practice and more important tips on the internet such as the British CouncilAustralia Network, or IELTS Simon. You will be able to get not just 6.5 but 7.0 or approximately 8.0.

I, personally, would say that IELTS is all about TIPS. Although your English proficiency is very good but without knowing its key tips, you will not be able to get a high band score.


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