Top IELTS test day tips to get you ready for your exam

Got your IELTS test coming up soon? Don’t worry, we have some top insights that will help you prepare for the day of your exam. Read our ‘Top IELTS test day tips’ from the British Council here.

  1. Have a plan

    It’s important to have a plan for your IELTS preparation. Visit our IELTS preparation page and look at all the preparation resources available to you. Download practice tests so that you are familiar with the test content and the types of questions you may be asked.

    It is also important to understand what level you are currently at.  For the Listening and Reading sections, you can work out your IELTS band by taking a practice test then using a calculator to get your IELTS band. For the Speaking and Writing sections, use the British Council online tutoring service.  Our professional, experienced tutors can advise you on what your current level is and provide tips for improvement.

  2. Find your “IELTS” time

    It is crucial that you prepare for your IELTS test at a consistent regular pace, don’t leave it all to the last minute! Find a time of the day and make that your “IELTS” time.  Make sure that you stick to this regular practice as it will give you confidence for success on test day.

  3. Work on your weaknesses

    Where do you need the most help?  Writing? Speaking? Don’t ignore these areas.  Identify your weaknesses and make sure you spend most of your time on these weaknesses first. This is key if you want to improve your band. You can practice the other areas that you are better at once you are confident you have improved your weaknesses.

  4. Find out what you need to do to improve your score

    It is important to know what you need to do in order to improve your band. IELTS examiners do not mark your work based on their opinions or subjective views.  There are specific requirements that you need to fulfil in order to achieve a specific band.  Find out what they are by clicking the links below and make sure you cover each of the requirements when you practice and on test day.

    Download Writing task 1 assessment criteria
    Download Writing task 2 assessment criteria
    Download Speaking assessment criteria

  5. Be realistic

    Becoming good at a language takes time and there are no miracle “tricks’ to help you succeed in the IELTS test.  If you need to improve your IELTS band from a band 5 to a band 7, this type of improvement does not happen overnight, it requires hard work and lots of practice. It’s difficult to say how long it takes to improve from a band 5 to 6 or a band 6 to 7, as everyone learns and improves at different speeds.  One thing is for sure, practice makes perfect!

  6. Warm up for test day

    In preparation for test day, it is important to “warm up”, similar to how an athlete would warm up if they were running a race. Speak in English as much as possible before test day.  This way, when you turn up on test day, you will be confident and ready.

  7. Don’t waste time

    Don’t waste time trying to memorize sample answers for your IELTS Speaking and Writing sections as this will not help you to prepare effectively.  For the IELTS Speaking section, examiners are looking for natural answers and not a pre-rehearsed speech.  While vocabulary is important to do well in the IELTS test, don’t spend all your time trying to memorize “complex” and “intellectual” vocabulary as you are probably unlikely to use all of these words in the test.

  8. Keep it simple

    Try not to overcomplicate things.  For example, in the Speaking section, it is better to answer questions clearly and directly rather than trying to think of complicated ideas.  Once you have answered the question, try to develop your ideas by giving an example.

    Here is a suggestion of how you could answer a question in the Speaking section:

    Examiner: What do you like to do in your free time?

    Candidate: I’m really into sports (answer) because it keeps me in shape (reason).  I particularly like playing tennis with my friends on the weekends at my local park (developing an idea with an example).

    Also, when selecting vocabulary for the Writing and Speaking sections, it is better to use a word you are sure about rather than trying to experiment with words where you are not too certain of the meaning.

  9. Take care of yourself

    Preparing for any test is challenging. It is important that you take care of your physical and mental wellbeing in preparation for test day.  Don’t leave all your preparation to the last minute, start practicing well in advance of test day. Make sure you get an early night the day before the test so that you are fresh on test day, don’t stay up until the early hours of the morning trying to “cram” information.

  10. Don’t panic

    Try to relax on test day.  For example, in the Speaking section, if you don’t understand a question, don’t panic.  You can always ask the examiner to repeat the question.  If you still don’t understand the question, just say that you don’t understand.  The examiner will move on and ask you another question.

    Find out more about British Council’s preparation materials by visiting our prepare page.  On this page, you will find:

    • An IELTS preparation app to help practice on the go.
    • An IELTS study pack. When you sign up, we will send you a variety of IELTS preparation material.
    • Webinars hosted by our IELTS experts which contains a variety of IELTS test day tips and advice.
    • IELTS practice tests and activities.

    Good luck in your exam and we hope our IELTS exam day tips offer a little extra help on the day!


    Are you ready to take your IELTS test?  Visit our Register page to find your closes IELTS test centre.

    Visit the IELTS Canada homepage to find out more.