Hello, I’m David and I’m an IELTS tutor. I have been teaching IELTS since 2010 and running this website since 2016. You can read all about me here if you are interested, but for now I want to tell you about IELTS.
This website is intended to teach you about the IELTS exam and I have a very simple philosophy that guides my efforts in making IELTS materials:
90% of IELTS websites are absolute rubbish! They give you really bad information and contribute to people getting poor scores. Therefore, I want to create a totally honest and helpful website that everyone can use free of charge.
When you look for IELTS materials online, you will often see people say “I can guarantee you a band 8!” or “Learn these 5 words to score band 7!” Unfortunately, these are all lies designed to get your attention and your money. This website provides only the truth. There are no false promises here.
Anyway, this article is intended for people who are first starting out in IELTS or who are using my website for the first time. As such, all the information here should be quite basic.
How Can I Start Studying for IELTS?
The first step in studying for IELTS is to find out basic information about the test. There are many ways to do that. On my website, I have some information such as the following:
- An overview of IELTS
- An overview of IELTS General Training (GT)
- A guide to IELTS listening
- A guide to IELTS writing
However, you may find it more helpful to visit the official IELTS website and that of the British Council or IDP. These may be available in your own language, which can help you to understand it better. However, I do believe that IELTS candidates should do as much reading in English as possible because this will help their English skills improve.
Aside from that, you need to remember the most important thing about IELTS:
IELTS is a test of your English skills!
It seems obvious, but people often forget this. They tend to think of IELTS as a test that can be passed by learning certain techniques or patterns. In fact, the job of an IELTS examiner is to give an honest assessment of a candidate’s English abilities and they will not try to trick you. Likewise, you should not try to fool them. At the end of the test, your score will most likely reflect your abilities. Therefore, you should try to improve your English skills as much as possible.
That said, it is helpful to gain a good understanding of the IELTS test procedures. Although you cannot trick the examiners, it is important to know what will happen in the test. For example, you should be familiar with the types of questions you will get in the listening section, or the things you might have to describe for task 1 of the writing test.
As such, I strongly recommend that you take a two-pronged approach to IELTS preparation. This means doing about 50% regular English practice and 50% IELTS-focused practice. (Although that figure will vary depending on your abilities.)
Preparing to Take IELTS
I have hundreds of articles on this website all about preparing to take IELTS. It can be a little confusing finding a good place to start because there is just so much information. However, maybe this one is among the most helpful:
In this article, I have tried to outline a basic approach to preparing for IELTS. In it, I suggest that people make a plan, find a study partner, use authentic past papers, and practice IELTS skills in the real world. I have not included any tricks because I know that these won’t help.
It can also seem really frustrating when you take IELTS again and again and again, never quite reaching your target score. That’s why I wrote these articles, which I think are really important for all IELTS candidates to consider:
The last one may seem like clickbait, but actually it contains a very important message. The main idea is that you should stop taking IELTS over and over. Lots of people think that they can just get a band 7 by repeatedly doing IELTS, when instead they should go home and study until they are ready. They end up wasting their time and money, and in the end they become really depressed about their results.
Resources for IELTS Writing
Next, I want to introduce you to some information about IELTS writing because this is probably the hardest part of the exam. I have written more than 100 articles about this topic, and here I will collect the best ones for you.
However, first I want to recommend something else. It’s my IELTS writing correction service, which I believe is the best way to improve your writing skills. By using this service, you can find out your strengths and weaknesses so that you can prepare accordingly.
Of course, that is not free. It is, however, affordable and it is probably the best way to prepare for IELTS writing. But if you prefer free stuff, then you can follow the advice in these articles:
- Why is your Writing Score so Low?
- How to Write a Task 2 Essay (a complete guide)
- How to Write a Conclusion
- Avoiding Common Mistakes
- Selecting Ideas and Structuring an Essay
- How to Describe Process Diagrams
- Answering Two-Part Questions
- How to Write an IELTS Letter
- Generating Ideas for IELTS Essays
- Which is best – 4 or 5 paragraphs?
- Analysing a Task 2 Question
- Punctuation for IELTS
That may seem like a lot of stuff to read, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. These are just 12 articles out of many that I have written in the past 4 years. I think these ones will offer you the most help.
Remember that for IELTS writing, you are being marked according to strict criteria determined by the IELTS organisers. This is divided into 4 sections:
- Task Achievement
- Coherence and Cohesion
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
You can find all the details on the IELTS website. (That is a PDF file for task 2.)
Note that one of those sections was about grammar. This is obviously important for all aspects of English, but it’s perhaps the biggest problem in writing. Because of that, you may want to read some of these articles:
- The Importance of Grammar for IELTS
- How to Learn Prepositions
- A Guide to Using Commas
- Essential Grammar: Sentence Types
Again, there is much more to learn, but these are pretty important articles that will help you to overcome common problems. If you want to learn more about grammar and other issues for IELTS writing, then check out my books:
Resources for IELTS Speaking
Speaking is another difficult part of the IELTS test and so I have written many articles and made many YouTube videos to help people overcome their problems. My most popular articles and videos tend to revolve around the cue cards for part 2 of the speaking test. These will ask you to describe something. In my articles, I usually show you how to analyse the question and then make notes that will help you give a good answer.
Here are a few of the best ones:
- Describe your Hometown
- Describe a Skill
- Describe Someone in your Family
- Describe a Restaurant
- Describe your Favourite Season
If you want to hear my answers to these cue cards, you can take a look at this playlist. It has lots of advice about IELTS speaking, with a focus on part 2 of the test.
There are, of course, other types of materials on here and on my YouTube channel, including this video of me explaining how you can get better at pronunciation.
Pronunciation is really important because it is worth 25% of your score for IELTS speaking. If you cannot pronounce words clearly, then you will not be able to make yourself understood and the examiner will not give you a good score.
Another issue to consider is that of hesitation. By this, I mean when you leave a gap in the speech or fill it with “um” or some other noise that is not a real word. This is not a huge problem, but you certainly shouldn’t do it too much. This article explains how to deal with hesitation problems.
Finally, we all know the old phrase:
Practice Makes Perfect
But how can you get enough practise to really improve your English speaking skills? I actually wrote an article all about that, which you can find here. In it, I explain some ideas about finding ways to practice so that you can speak English more often.
One of those ways is finding a speaking partner, which you can do at this Facebook group.
Resources for IELTS Reading
I don’t write that much about IELTS reading because honestly most of my students have been able to score highly in this part of the test. They struggle with speaking and writing, so that’s what I focus on. Reading is one of those skills that you can develop alone, but writing and speaking require expert guidance, which is what I provide through this website.
Nonetheless, I have some general guides about reading here:
- How to Prepare for IELTS Reading
- 5 Ways to Improve your Reading Score
- Sentence Completion Tips
- 8 Question Types for Reading (and Listening)
I have also made several exercises for you to practice your reading skills. These are based on different types of articles with some IELTS-style questions added in:
Resources for IELTS Listening
Finally, we come to the listening section of the IELTS exam. Again, I have not produced as many materials for this as for speaking and writing because it is something most people can study for by themselves. Watching TV and movies, listening to podcasts and radio, and generally being around the sounds of English are all ways that you can improve your skills over time.
Anyway, I have two general articles about listening:
In addition, I do have some practice activities, including this one:
There are a lot of materials above and I don’t expect that you will have time to look through all of them. However, I hope that you are able to look through some of them and to focus on those that suit your needs. For example, if you struggle with writing, then you should focus on the writing materials, and if you need help with speaking, you should look at the speaking ones.
If you are new to this website, you should bookmark it and follow us on Facebook for daily updates. I also send a weekly e-mail that contains IELTS advice. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any troubles or questions, and I will try to reply as quickly as possible. Don’t be shy – say hello!
You can also leave questions and feedback in the comment section below if you like.