We’ve talked about the TOEFL and how to prepare for it. Now, let’s discuss the International English Language Testing System, or the IELTS.

The IELTS is another globally-recognized language test for people who want to study, work, or live in English-speaking countries. Over two million people take it every year.

Are you getting ready to take the IELTS exam? Here are some quick and easy IELTS preparation tips!  

1. Choose the right IELTS exam. Do you need to take IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training?

To study at a university or join a professional organization in an English-speaking country, you need to take IELTS Academic. This exam tests your ability to use English in an academic or professional environment.

Study English used in universities and professional settings. Be familiar with the formal English writing style. The University of Cambridge website has a research section with text and video content you can study.  

To study high school, work or undergo training, or live in an English-speaking country, you need to take IELTS General Training. This exam measures your ability to use English in practical, everyday situations.

You need to learn conversational English. Study common idioms and practice having informal discussions. You also need to know how to write in English for practical purposes, such as composing a letter to request information. The BBC website is a good source of study material.

2. Know the IELTS test format. Check the official IELTS website and the British Council IELTS website for details on the test format.

Basically, the IELTS exam has four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. You need to take the first three parts on the same day, but you can schedule the speaking part on a different day.

3. Note that the IELTS exam is not computer-based. Some test takers can now take the IELTS on a computer, but it’s still generally a paper-based test.

Practice writing short essays and letters by hand within a time limit. More importantly, make sure your handwriting is easy to read!

4. Consider that the IELTS recognizes different kinds of English. You may hear different English accents from all over the world in the listening part of the test.

While most of the test is in British English, you don’t need to speak or write in British English to get a good IELTS score. However, it helps to understand the basic differences between British English and American English.

We’ve written a bit about it before. Voice of America and the British Council also have helpful notes on this topic.

5. Prepare for an English conversation with a real person. The speaking part of the test involves talking to a human examiner. You will answer general questions and discuss a specific topic.

Practice speaking with a friend or an English teacher. We highly recommend taking an English course online to help you prepare for the IELTS. With online schools like Learntalk, you can have conversational lessons with English teachers from all over the world.

We’ll have more IELTS tips for you again soon. Good luck with your IELTS preparation!

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