20 Helpful Tips for the IELTS Exam


1) Pay attention to the short section at the beginning which gives you the example answer. This will help you become familiar with the situation and the speakers.

2) There will be gaps in the audio in between sets of questions. Use these wisely to prepare for the next questions by reading them carefully.

3) The answers to the questions will come in the order of the questions, so listen and try to follow. If you miss one answer, move on to the next and don’t worry about it.

4) Take your time to carefully transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Watch out for spelling mistakes. Many students write “ture” and “flase” instead of “true” and “false”.


5) Read very quickly to begin with. This will give you a good idea of the topic and where different parts of the text are located.

6) Don’t worry about the meaning of every little section. These might not even be necessary to get the right answers.

7) If you are asked to use words from the text to answer a question, then use the exact words from the text.

8) Pay attention to question instructions. For example, if there is a word limit (such as three words) then don’t go over it.


9) Don’t try to memorize an answer in advance. You can’t possibly get a good grade for Task Achievement if you do this. Instead, just answer the question as carefully as possible.

10) Task 2 is more important than Task 1 so stick to the recommended time limits and give more time to the second part. Many students also like to do Task 2 first.

11) Don’t let yourself get caught short and write too little. You will be penalized for a short essay. However, you also don’t want to write too much… Writing twice as much as necessary gives more scope for mistakes.

12) Take time to think about and plan your essay. It is tempting just to start writing, but you need to think about it before, or else you won’t produce your best work.


13) Avoid giving overly short answers. If the answer is “yes” or “no,” then explain why you said that.

14) This is not a general knowledge test. You are mostly giving ideas, opinions, and experiences from your own life.

15) Just as in the writing exam, think of some transitional phrases to make your language come together naturally.

16) Don’t view the examiner as some alien being. They are a person just like you. Have a conversation with them and don’t be so nervous.

17) Speak to the examiner, not the recording equipment!

18) Listen to the questions carefully and don’t just talk on the topic. Remember that being asked what sports you do doesn’t mean talk generally about sports.

19) You need to show off a little bit, so add more information where possible.

20) Pay attention to collocations in your studies to make your language more natural.

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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