Learn how to prepare for the IELTS exam

Discover the do’s and don’ts for each module of the IELTS: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

We know that the most important thing for you is obtaining a good IELTS General Training score. We also understand how difficult it can be to know where to start studying and prepare for it. That’s why today we want to share some suggestions on how to prepare for the exam and a couple of tips that you can apply in the IELTS modules: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Step by step for your IELTS preparation

To begin with, we want to ease that overwhelming feeling that certain questions generate: How do I start studying? Should I read and write in English as much as possible? Should I review the lessons and grammar books in English that I studied in school? Or should I hire a teacher to help me study?

You will likely answer these questions during your preparation process. To make it easier for you, we have created the following steps that can help you know where to start. 

  1. Get acquainted with the exam format: You should have a clear understanding of the modules of the IELTS, the types of questions in each module, and how to approach them to get a good score. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the time limits and timed conditions throughout the test. 
  2. Create a study plan: After understanding the exam, it’s important to plan your upcoming weeks to focus on studying the most relevant materials and dedicate time to practice the skills that will be assessed. Here you can learn how to expand your vocabulary for the IELTS.  
  3. Be disciplined: One of the pillars of any type of preparation and study plan is to stick to the schedules you have consciously set. It is necessary to get used to reading, listening, writing, and speaking in English in different contexts and circumstances. 
  4. Take advantage of the free resources available: In IELTS.ca, there are lessons, tips, exercise examples, and much more so that you feel confident in yourself and your answers when you face the exam. 
  5. Present the free IELTS mock test: One of the best tips before taking the exam is to do a practice run of it, where you don’t have the pressure to achieve a good score, but it’s a way to get to know the exam in depth. 
  6. Read, write, and get feedback: The final step is to immerse yourself as much as possible in the English language. Read magazines, write a journal, listen to music and podcasts, watch movies, have conversations with your friends, and connect with communities that are dedicated to improving their English at all costs. This way, you can also receive feedback from others regarding your pronunciation, communication, and vocabulary. 


Man talking and preparing for IELTS exam

Learn the do’s and don’ts in the IELTS 

Although the key to achieving a good score is commitment and practice, it never hurts to have some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in the IELTS. To facilitate your preparation, we dedicate this space to each module of the exam, so that you have a more comprehensive and clear understanding of how to approach the test on the day you take it.  

How to prepare for Listening 

In this module, you will have 30 minutes to respond and it consists of four tasks, including monologues, speeches, and conversations. Within the tasks, there are multiple-choice questions, completing charts, diagrams and sentences, and short answer questions.


  • Listening to monologues, dialogues, or conversations to practice your listening skills. 
  • Make use of preparation time by jotting down keywords and important ideas. 
  • Follow the instructions and stick to the word limit for each exercise. 


  • Relying on just one resource or believing that a practice test is enough. It is highly recommended to use all the materials you can find to study. 
  • Focusing on only one type of accent or context. You should prepare for any type of English conversation. 
  • Concentrating on just one question. You should pay attention to all the details to answer not just one, but all the questions. 

How to prepare for Speaking

In this module, you will have 11 to 14 minutes and it consists of a three-part conversation with the examiner. The first part is about personal, family, and everyday topics; the second part is about a specific topic chosen by the examiner; and the third part is a discussion where your ability to engage in a conversation will be assessed.


  • Make use of the preparation time to your advantage, even if you already know what you will say. It can help you better organize your ideas before speaking. 
  • Learn to use connectors (additionally, further, indeed, although, etc.) to give fluency and coherence to your sentences. 
  • If you don’t understand what you are being asked, it is better to ask to clear up any doubts. 
  • Speak for the full two minutes in Part 2 of the test. 
  • Recognize two different points of view in Part 3 of the test. 


  • Giving short answers throughout the exam can work against you, trying to be concise or monosyllabic.  
  • Going back to your speech to correct an error. It’s better to keep going and continue responding. 
  • Speaking quickly. It’s more likely that you’ll make mistakes if you rush to answer. 
  • Giving memorized answers. This can make the conversation feel unnatural. 

Two people talking at the IELTS exam


How to prepare for Reading

In this module, you will have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, which are divided into three sections. The texts are excerpts from books, magazines, articles and newspapers, and the types of questions vary, ranging from multiple-choice to indicating the writer’s opinion. 


  • Read as much as you can: books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, reviews, etc. 
  • Focusing on the titles and subtitles of the texts will give you a general idea of what you will be reading. 
  • Highlight the keywords in the questions to find the answer more easily. 
  • Familiarize yourself with all the types of questions in this module.


  • Focus on just one question. If you don’t know the answer, move on to the next question and then come back to the ones you haven’t answered. 
  • Don’t answer or connect responses solely based on keyword matches. Make sure your answer is coherent and complete. 

How to prepare for Writing  

In this module, you will have 60 minutes to answer two parts: the first one is 150 words long and the second one is 250 words long. The first part accounts for one-third of the grade, while the second part accounts for the remaining two-thirds. 


  • Always write in paragraphs, not in isolated ideas. 
  • Compare information and use different references to strengthen your argument. 
  • Use sufficient punctuation to separate ideas and ensure clear communication. 
  • Highlight your opinion and points of view regarding the presented situation. 


  • Avoid using an incorrect tone in your texts. It is important to determine whether your response should have a formal, informal, or personal tone to understand how to write and answer appropriately. 
  • Describe instead of comparing ideas. Avoid repeating information to prevent redundancy in your response. 
  • Do not structure information in bullet points. This can result in point deductions as it does not connect sentences or ideas. 
  • Avoid using too many connectors, as it can make your writing sound unnatural. 

If you want to prepare for the IELTS with the British Council, enter here and practice with the mock exam.