Strategies that will help you pass the IELTS exam

Understanding and assimilating the different exam sections is necessary in order to prepare for the IELTS exam. Our notes provide you with all the information you need to understand what will be asked of you in each exercise. Succeeding in the IELTS exam depends first and foremost on your exam preparation method. Our experts give you the main tips to remain calm on the day of the exam.


Strategy 1 : Understanding the structure of the four test sections

Generally speaking, carefully reading and understanding the instructions allows you to avoid losing points by giving imprecise answers. This can be particularly costly in the Reading and Listening sections, where the types of questions and the number of answers vary from one question to another. Being attentive is a simple strategy that can help you gain more points.

Clock and notebook on a table.

Learning the general instructions of the 4 sections off by heart, allows you to develop reflexes that will reassure you on the day of the exam. Knowing the format of the interview in the Speaking section and the grammatical structures wanted by the examiner in the Writing section can allow you to gain time. Thanks to Global-Exam’s numerous exercises, mock exams and our advice, you can boost your IELTS exam score.


Strategy 2: Focus on the most difficult exercises

What is the minimum score that you wish to obtain? The answer to this question will allow you to estimate the preparation time that you need to succeed in you IELTS exam, according to your current level of English. The majority of students have a minimum required general score that has been set by the universities that they wish to join (7 points for prestigious institutions), and some require minimum subscores as well (6.5 for each section). If you have not been set a score to obtain, set yourself an ambitious yet attainable objective, that will motivate you to prepare the exam seriously.

If you want to apply for Canadian citizenship or work in Canada, you may need to convert your IELTS score into CLB levels.

To estimate your current IELTS score, standard exercises can help you analyse the sections with which you are most at ease and those on which you should focus your energy. The majority of candidates gain the most points in the Reading section (which is based on multiple choice questions), while the Writing section is considered the most difficult section (the marking criteria are strict in terms of vocabulary, grammar and logical argumentation).

Pen on a notebook with blank page.

As soon as you have spotted the sections in which you think you will obtain the best subscores, you can spend less preparation time on them proportionally than on sections which seem more difficult at first glance. The main aim is to progress as fast as possible, and you have to manage your own practice schedule for each section. For example, if you are having difficulties with the Writing section, you can do more exercises to enrich your vocabulary and improve your written expression. You will then be able to go over the Listening section, if you find this section easier.

Be aware that it is better to practise each section equally rather than focusing on one section, because a subscore which is too low could prevent you from attaining your required score, despite a good overall score.


Strategy 3: Having an effective work method and sticking to it

After spotting the sections which require the most effort to improve, create an effective work method. Once your objective have been set, you will need to stick to them if you want to progress in an optimal way. You will need to practise actively (by following preparation classes with a teacher, or training on Global-Exam) and passively (watching films and factual reports and reading books in English). Passive practice is just as important as active practice because it allows you to have an enjoyable way of preparing for your IELTS exam.