Great techniques for IELTS preparation

There are many different ways to prepare for IELTS. Here are a few techniques you may not have tried before.

1. Speaking

  • For part 1, you will be asked about a wide range of familiar topics, from movies to pets, music to holidays! So, while you wait for your class to begin, don’t take a nap or sit their quietly, introduce yourself to a classmate and start a discussion about one of these topics. Regular, natural conversation allows you to develop the habit of accessing vocabulary for these topics more quickly and naturally.
  • If you don’t have someone to practice with, try recording yourself on your phone or tablet as you complete a Part 2 speaking question. Listen back to it and use the public band descriptors to try and evaluate your own vocabulary use, grammar and pronunciation and fluency.

2. Writing

  • Timed practise is very important! Sometimes you can practise writing without a timer, so you can work on your grammar and vocabulary, but you should also do plenty of practise where you only write for 20 minutes (task 1) or 40 minutes (task 2). This trains you to make sacrifices and prioritise so that you can complete the word limit within the time frame.
  • If you are having trouble achieving the word limit within the given time, think about which part is taking you longest, and start by trying to build up your speed for that particular part. For example, for Task 1, time yourself for five minutes, look at a question, analyse it, make a short bullet point plan, and then write your two-three sentence introduction. Then, instead of finishing the essay, try another one. This is training your ability to analyse information quickly and writing a concise but clear introduction.

3. Reading

  • A lot of students understand the skill of skimming but struggle to use it effectively. Practise this skill frequently by regularly skimming one to two page articles (from any magazine or newspaper)in 30 to 120 seconds. Don’t aim to ‘understand’ everything, but just try to pick up as many clues as you can. Do this often, and over time, you will still get more comfortable with this skill.
  • It is important to read a wide range of topics in your practise so that you can expand your range of vocabulary. It is also a good idea to find as many articles or sources as you can that you find interesting – this can help keep you engaged during your preparation. Our teachers write IELTS style reading articles about interesting parts of British culture. You can find these each month in CNA magazine, and they are also available on our website here

4. Listening

  • As well as your IELTS listening practise, try listening to recordings of regular talks or conversations. To improve your ability to understand unexpected recordings, put several recordings on your listening device at different levels, lengths, topics and accents and have them play on shuffle. Don’t expect to understand everything – this will gradually train your ability to listen for information in recordings that you were not expecting.
  • An important listening skill to practise is prediction, as in the exam, you only have a short time to look at the question. By making predictions about what you will hear, you increase your chances of picking out the relevant information when the recording plays. Get a selection of different question types (form, table, summary, sentence completion, labelling), set your timer, and as fast as you can, practise identifying the context, circling key words, thinking about possible synonyms you might hear, and predicting the type of vocabulary or part of speech needed in the answer.