Practice, practice, and practice. It doesn’t matter how long you have been using the English language, and especially if you are aiming for a particular band score in any of the test components, it pays to practice a lot prior to your IELTS exam.
Whenever you can, practice as much as possible, to help you build confidence for the real exam. Depending on your preparation time, you can choose to break down each component to practice on any given day, and then gradually work on all components until you can do a simulation of the entire examination.
Once you know how much time you have to prepare for before the IELTS exam, you can come up with a timetable on what to practice on for a specific time or day.
For example, you can do one listening exercise and one reading exercise everyday for one week, then increase to two exercises in the following week, and so on until you can do a simulated IELTS examination – all the three components (listening, reading, and writing) within two hours and forty minutes, NO breaks. Try to stick to a schedule as much as possible, but it’s fine if you want to do more.
When you know your strengths and weaknesses, then you can focus on the skills that you find more difficult than the other. Some people may find the listening and reading skills easier, than writing, and so spend more time practicing the writing part.
Knowing that the listening and reading skills are graded objectively, while the speaking and writing are graded subjectively, you may pay more attention to one than the other.
Go through as many practice tests as you can, and don’t get contented even if you get a good-enough score. The key here is to get more than acquainted with different test formats and build your test-taking stamina and confidence.
Since the tests are time-pressured, do your practice tests within the given time. And when you are not doing practice tests, practice your English in any way that you can: choose to watch a movie or news in English instead of in your native language, practice speaking English with a friend or a mentor, read lengthy passages or texts, watch tutorial videos about IELTS, and go through as many sample essays as you can.
The day before the exam, you should get a good night’s sleep as this will help you to be in a good mood and be able to concentrate better during the exam.
On the morning of the exam, try not to skip breakfast – you wouldn’t want to get distracted by a hungry tummy! Do dress appropriately during the exam, especially during the speaking test. Think of the speaking test as a personal interview. Present yourself well, be polite and courteous, and don’t forget to smile!
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