IELTS Preparation - Section Wise Tips and Sample Papers

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    IELTS preparation is a long term process for those candidates who want to excel in IELTS exam. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a language proficiency test written widely by those students who want to pursue higher education or employment opportunities in English speaking nations. IELTS preparation makes the exam pattern familiar to the test takers. Total test time for IELTS exam is 2hrs 45 minutes. 

    Exam Pattern

    IELTS Preparation- Exam pattern

    Before starting IELTS preparation, test takers must know exam pattern completely. IELTS has two formats mainly - IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Mostly the candidates who want to pursue higher education in English speaking nations, pursue academic tests. Whereas IELTS General Training is mainly immigration purposes. Writing and reading sections are completely different in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. An overview of IELTS pattern is given below


    Why is IELTS Preparation Very Difficult?

    Test takers require minimum of 6 months to 1 year of hard work to score well in IELTS. Registration fee for IELTS in INR 13250. Therefore the test takers have to quite well-prepared before taking the exam. Three things to be under radar of improvement are

    Level of English: It is a language proficiency test, therefore the test takers should have a good level of English. For improving level of English for IELTS preparation, firstly the test takers have to develop practice skills to improve the level of language. Start reading English books, newspapers, magazines, handbooks and advertisements of all kinds.

    Skills required for IELTS: Test takers have to understand that IELTS is an exam where every question to be attempted within a strict period of time. Test takers should be very accurate in listening every little piece of audio available in English to develop a skill as IELTS preparation. With such a little accuracy in listening skills, test takers will know what should be considered as correct information. For both reading and writings sections, test takers should develop proper way of articulation as IELTS preparation skills. Examiner measure grammatical usage, fluency and correct pronunciation for speaking section. Many test takers become nervous while in a face to face interview session. Developing fluency and correct grammatical usage as key resources for IELTS preparation in speaking section.

    Scoring in IELTS: Examiner want test takers to be comprehensive enough to understand the tonality of reading excerpts. Task achievement and response, coherence, lexical resource and accurate grammatical usage are four criteria for examiner to mark out the test takers. Each criterion carries 25% marks to test taker.

    Small steps for IELTS Preparation

    • Firstly test takers have to decide whether it is IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training
    • Find out strength out of four sections present in IELTS
    • Get a complete overview of exam pattern of IELTS
    • Try to be real in setting goals
    • Always focus on improving vocabulary
    • Indulge in regular mock tests
    • Ask someone to assess answer sheet
    • Try to look out for mistakes
    • Always practice in front of mirror to understand

    How will you know that you are done with IELTS preparation?

    Every year, test takers appear for IELTS to fulfil future aspiration. IELTS preparation requires dedication and constant practice to improve. It is always advisable to take mock tests to know preparatory stages of own.

    Firstly calculate raw score for Reading and Listening section out of 40. These two sections will be marked in the scale of 9. These two sections are quite important in maintaining score if IELTS. Candidates should practice both Reading and listening sections regularly for better performance. For writing and speaking sections, test takers should always need help of a guide. Without proper guidance, one can never excel in these two sections.

    For IELTS preparation in writing and speaking, test takers have to practice rigorously for improvement. With regular feedback from a guide or teacher, one can easily improve these two sections. One has to develop vocabulary along with fluency in writing skills as skills for writing section. 


    IELTS Exam Pattern: Listening

    IELTS listening section assesses the listening skills of test takers. For both IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic, this section is common for test takers. As per data collected about the performance of test takers, on this band score is the highest. Total time allotted for IELTS listening is 30 minutes. One important IELTS Preparation tips for listening section is that the audio clips will be played only once during exam. Test takers have to be very conscious while listening to audio clip. 

    IELTS Listening Test

    • Section 1: 10 questions (General conversation between 2 English natives) 
    • Section 2: 10 questions (Monologue on general topic) 
    • Section 3: 10 questions (Conversation between 2-4 people around academics) 
    • Section 4: 10 questions (Monologue on academic topic) 
    • 40 questions to be answered in 30 minutes 

    Test takers have to listen to pre-recorded recordings to answer these sections. Questions can be MCQ type, fill in the blanks, flowcharts, or tables. In India, an individual is well acquainted with listening English content. It is a major reason to score the best in a listening band. 

    IELTS Preparation: Listening

    • Read the question before listening the recording, so one can understand what to find in recording
    • Recording will be played only for once, so be careful at listening all information 
    • Focus on questions properly to know precisely what to answer 
    • Answer questions immediately after listening recordings 
    • One gets 10 minutes to write answers, it is necessary to make a rough note what one will be writing finally 
    • Words with negative connotation like (no, never, no one, barely, none, scarcely) should be taken under consideration 
    • Don’t rush in completing answers 
    • Don’t leave any gap blank, as there is no negative marking in IELTS exam 

    IELTS Exam Pattern: Reading

    IELTS Reading section tests the reading skill of the test taker. Applicants have to read the text properly to understand underlying inferences, meanings of the content. For IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic, this section will be different. 

    For IELTS Academic, texts will be from journals, newspapers or books. These texts constitute graphical representations (like illustrations, graphs, or diagrams) as well. It assesses the comprehensible ability of the test taker. For IELTS General Training, texts will be from advertisements, official documents, company handbooks, magazines or newspapers. Total time allotted for IELTS Reading section is 60 minutes. 

    IELTS Reading: Academic Test

    • 3 reading passages taken from journals, newspapers, books, or magazines. 
    • 40 questions to be answered in 60 minutes 
    • Mostly 11 kinds of task type will have to answer like- MCQ, Identifying information, Identifying writer’s opinions, Matching information, Matching heading, Matching features, Matching sentence endings, Sentence completion, Summary or flow chart completion, Diagram label completion, and short answer questions

    IELTS Reading: General Training

    • 60 minutes to answer 3 sections comprise of 40 questions 
    • Section 1 consists of 2 or 3 short texts 
    • Section 2 consists of 2 texts 
    • Section 3 consists of 1 long text 
    • Mostly 11 kinds of task type will have to answer like- MCQ, Identifying information, Identifying writer’s opinions, Matching information, Matching heading, Matching features, Matching sentence endings, Sentence completion, Summary or flow chart completion, Diagram label completion, and short answer question

    IELTS Preparation: Reading

    • 90 seconds is an average time to complete this section 
    • Some questions will need less time while others need more time 
    • Try to spend on an average of 20 minutes for each text 
    • Attempt easy questions at first to save time for difficult ones 
    • Point down all those important sections required to answer questions 
    • If one can’t decipher meanings of single words then try to look for sections around words to get an idea of meaning 
    • Make a proper categorization to understand specific kinds of texts (like analytic, descriptive, argumentative, narrative) 
    • Try to develop skimming ability that is to skip unimportant words to understand main sections easily 

    IELTS Exam Pattern: Writing

    IELTS writing section is also different for Academic and General Training. This section analyses writing skills of test takers. Test takers have to articulate arguments and ideas properly in this section keeping aside grammatical errors. Both these tasks are assessed on basis of different parameters like grammatical accuracy, lexical resource, coherence and task achievement. Total time allotted for writing section is 60 minutes. 

    IELTS Writing: Academic Test 

    • 2 writing tasks to be completed in 60 minutes 
    • In Task 1, test takers have to visual information comprehended through chart, diagram or graph. 
    • In 20 minutes, test takers have to complete Task 1 in 150 words 
    • In Task 2, test takers have to respond to a point of view or problem or argument from the given topic 
    • In 40 minutes, test takers have to complete Task 2 in 250 words 

    IELTS Writing: General Training

    • 2 writing tasks to be completed in 60 minutes
    • In Task 1, test takers have to write a personal response to a situation given in either formal or semi-formal or informal letter
    • In 20 minutes, test takers have to complete Task 1 in 150 words
    • In Task 2, test takers have to write a discursive or semi-formal essay in response to an argument or problem or point of view 
    • In 40 minutes, test takers have to complete Task 2 in 250 words

    IELTS Preparation: Writing

    • Use word carefully as there are 150 word limit for Task 1 and 250 word limit for Task 2 in both Academic and General Training
    • Make rough notes to get a structure of your writing 
    • Try to attempt Task 2 at first because it has higher weightage value 
    • As mentioned earlier, this section assesses four parameters in the writing of test taker that is grammatical accuracy, lexical resource, coherence and task achievement 
    • Test takers must include all these parameters in writing because each parameter carries 25% like grammatical accuracy (25%), lexical resource (25%), coherence (25%) and task achievement (25%)
    • Should have enough time for revision 
    • Continuous practice will improve writing styles of the candidate 

    IELTS Exam Pattern: Speaking

    IELTS Exam for speaking section tests the spoken English skills of the test taker. This test will be an oral interview between the examiner and test taker. Total time allotted for IELTS speaking is 11-14 minutes. This section is common for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training test format. Mostly this test section occurs after completion of other 3 sections. Examiners have criteria for marking this section on four parameters like pronunciation, usage and accuracy of grammar, lexical resource and coherence and fluency. Each criteria has a weightage value of 25% of mark. 

    IELTS Speaking test 

    • There are 3 parts in this section 
    • In Part 1, questions are asked on general introduction like family, home, studies, work 
    • 4-5 minutes are allotted for Part 1 
    • In Part 2, test takers have to talk about a topic given through a task card
    • 3-4 minutes (including preparation time) test takers have to spend for Part 2
    • In Part 3, examiner will discuss issues with test taker related to Part 2 
    • 4-5 minutes are allotted for Part 3 

    IELTS Preparation: Speaking

    • Focus on fluency of words 
    • Good range of vocabulary 
    • Clarity of thoughts 
    • Excellent command over language 
    • Always be prepared for answering “WHY” 
    • Ask questions to the examiner for clarification 
    • Try to practice vocabulary for extended usage of language 
    • Always think before speak
    • Never divert to any other topic
    • Don't panic stricken after committing mistakes. Try to correct it properly 
    • Try to reply to every answer with a smile. Good vibes are required for better impression on the examiner 
    • Try to speak from heart. Don’t memorize answers 
    Preparation Tips

    IELTS Preparation: All sections

    IELTS is designed for those who want to pursue higher education or employment opportunities in English speaking nations. It is an exam that requires preparation for at least 6 months. One needs to be stringent in practicing all sections with equal importance. In most of the universities, average IELTS score for getting into the best university is 7-7.5. Few IELTS preparation tips for better performance in exam are as following 

    • Improve vocabulary by reading English novel, newspaper, and magazine
    • Watch regular news in English 
    • Focus on time management 
    • Online mock test papers will help in understanding format of IELTS 
    • Don’t memorize every available material 
    • Try to give insights to make every section valuable 
    • Practice writing different essays following strict time 
    • With writing one learns new words and grammatical usage 
    • Attempt all questions as there is no negative marking 
    • Practice IELTS sample papers available (of previous years) 
    • Know the format of exam properly 
    Sample Books

    IELTS Preparation: Sample books

    International students must know about IELTS preparation stages. IELTS exam completely assesses English language proficiency of the test taker. IELTS preparation can be rigorous for times. The test takers have to be rigid enough to complete the entire syllabus. As per the official website, IELTS exam comprises four sections. Few books are considered to be the best for IELTS preparation. List includes 

    • Barron’s IELTS Super pack
    • The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS 
    • Cambridge IELTS 13 Academic Student’s Book with Answers 
    • Official IELTS Practice Materials 
    • Road to IELTS 
    Sample Papers

    IELTS Preparation: Sample Papers

    Official website of IELTS exam has uploaded a wide range of sample papers for students to practice. These sample papers include questions from all sections. The link below is given for Sample Papers.

    IELTS Preparation: IELTS Listening Sample Papers

    IELTS Preparation: IELTS Writing Sample Papers

    For practicing IELTS Academic, click here 

    For practicing IELTS General Training, click here 

    IELTS Preparation: IELTS Reading Sample Papers

    For practicing IELTS Academic, click here 

    For practicing IELTS General Training, click here 

    IELTS Preparation: IELTS Speaking Sample Papers

    For practice purpose, click here

    IELTS Preparation FAQs

    Ques. Can I score well in IELTS without coaching?

    Ans. The requirement for coaching in IELTS is subjective. However, one can easily work on their command over english language with some daily investment in its preparation. Try to read english passages, converse in english everyday. Gradually you can identify your weak spots and work on them. A coaching center can only help you with grammar rules, you will have to make the effort of implementing those rules in your usage.

    Ques. What kind of questions are asked in IELTS Speaking Test?

    Ans. IELTS speaking test can be seen as a casual conversation to know the candidate’s thought process and his/her expressing ability in conversations. The interview doesn’t involve any technical questions so the candidates need not worry about the same.

    Ques.  Can I replay the audios in the listening test?

    Ans. No, the recordings in the listening test can not be replayed so the candidates are requested to listen to the clips carefully. 

    Ques. Is there any negative marking if we exceed the word limit in IELTS writing test?

    Ans. There is no specified negative marking in IELTS as such. However, word limit is one of the judgement criteria in the writing test. Therefore, candidates are suggested to stick to the word limit.

    Ques. Do I need to work on my accent for the speaking test?

    Ans. No, as long as you can convey your thoughts clearly and in the right manner, you need not impose an accent over your expression. Your natural accent will not be a problem in any case,

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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