student practising reading and writing in English

Some Do’s and Don’ts for your IELTS test 


  1. Leave a question for later if you can’t answer. Spending a long time on one answer is not ideal. Go back later if you have time and guess if you have to. 
  2. Don’t panic if you don’t know anything about the subject of the passage. All the answers can be found in the passage and you don’t need any specialist knowledge. 
  3. Remember, unlike the Listening section of the exam, you have no extra time to transfer your answers at the end of the Reading section. 
  4. As a preparation for the exam, read as widely as possible e.g. newspapers, magazines, or journals. Don’t limit yourself to one type of text and read articles with an academic style if possible. 
  5. Don’t concentrate on words you don’t know. It only wastes valuable time. 
  6. Careless mistakes cost points. Copy the answer correctly if it is mentioned in the passage. 
  7. Check your spelling, and make sure to put in singular or plural as required. 
  8. Only give one answer unless explicitly stated otherwise. 


  1. Highlight or circle key words – make sure you are answering what the question asks.
  2. Make a very short, brief plan so you can decide on your main argument and your paragraph plan. Glance back at this and the question to make sure you are not drifting away from the question.
  3. Clearly divide paragraphs. 
  4. Be careful with timing! Practise regularly by doing past versions of the test under timed conditions. There are many books that offer these, including the official Cambridge series.
  5. Avoid very informal language. 
  6. Learn to recognise how long 150/250 words is in your handwriting. You don’t really have time to count. 
  7. Get used to spending several minutes re-reading and correcting your essays. 
  8. Don’t memorise model answers, they won’t fit the question and you will make more careless mistakes. In addition, examiners are trained to recognise them so your exam will be invalid.