Top tips for your IELTS speaking and writing exams

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We have put together some advice on how to prepare properly for your speaking and writing IELTS examinations.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test that measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work in environments where English is used as a language of communication. IELTS provides an accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

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We have put together some advice on how to prepare properly for your speaking and writing IELTS examinations.

Speaking exam:

The IELTS speaking exam is a personal face-to-face conversation with a qualified examiner. The speaking exam is very similar to a real-life situation. The examiner will ask you questions about topics such as your home, place of work or studies, and this is aimed to help you relax and feel comfortable in the exam. The best way to do well in this part of the exam is to relax and speak as naturally as possible.

Another good idea is to spend some time before the exam speaking with a native English speaker. This could be a friend, relative, partner or colleague.

Some useful points to remember are:

  • Try to talk as much as you can

  • Talk as fluently as possible and be spontaneous

  • Relax, be confident and enjoy using your English

  • Develop your answers

  • Speak more than the examiner

  • Ask for clarification if necessary

  • Do not learn prepared answers; the examiner is trained to spot this and will change the question

  • Express your opinions; you will be assessed on your ability to communicate

  • The examiner’s questions tend to be fairly predictable; practise at home and record yourself

 Writing exam:

During the exam you are allowed to write your answers in either pen or pencil, in capital letters if you wish, and make notes on the question paper. Please keep in mind that nothing will be marked on the question paper.

Here are some tips to remember for your writing exam:

  • Analyse each task properly and spend some time making notes

  • Highlight or underline key words in the tasks to make sure that you focus on what you have to do

  • Plan your answers

  • Use paragraphs clearly; put one idea in each paragraph

  • Do not repeat ideas using different words

  • Do not copy whole sentences from the question – you will receive no marks for this

  • Keep to the topic; do not write about unrelated subjects

  • Manage your time; remember, Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1

  • Spend approximately 20 minutes on Task 1 and approximately 40 minutes on Task 2

  • Pay attention to the number of words required for each task; you will lose marks if you do not write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2

  • Avoid all informal ways of writing. There are some rules of writing you should follow. For example: no abbreviations, no 1st and 2nd pronoun or possessive (I, you, me, my, your), except in the conclusion where you have to state your opinion.

  • Writing requires having a wide academic vocabulary. It would be beneficial for you to buy a dictionary to enrich your vocabulary.

IELTS at International House London

IH London is the largest IELTS test centre in the UK, with tests taking place three Saturdays each month throughout the year.

Our language school also offers IELTS preparation courses to help candidates reach the IELTS band they need.


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