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Did you know that IELTS exams are taken by more than 3.5 million test-takers around the world a year? This is one of the major reasons why you need to get hold of extensive test materials and resources to help your preparations and pass IELTS on your first try.

But, do you think it is enough to spend only a few hours and months studying from books and other online guides?

I would rather say a big “NO” as the chances are high that you won’t feel confident and end up scoring less. So, are you planning to pass IELTS exam on the first go? If you said yes, wait!  Read these 10 things you need to follow before you go ahead.  

 So what should you do to pass IELTS in one shot? Let’s find out below.

Effective Tips to Help You Pass IELTS in Your First Try

1. Check your English Proficiency!

The first thing you need to do is to check your English language proficiency for career prospects. As you are a non-native speaker of English looking to work or study abroad means, you need to be a proficient speaker. 

If you are adept at your language skills then IELTS may come easily to you. But those with mediocre skills in English may have a tough time with the IELTS.

In this case, a self-assessment will give you a good idea about:

  • Which area needs improvement. 
  • Where you stand and how far you need to go to achieve your goal.

This allows you to allocate more of your time to boost your weak areas. Further, national lockdowns imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic are an added advantage. You have more time to restart your IELTS preparation now! 

2. Familiarize With the Types of Questions

IELTS tests your aptitude in Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking English. The requirements of each of these sections vary. Knowing the type of questions can help you find smart ways to answer. Now, take a look at the type of questions you will be asked:

  • Listening & Reading: Matchmaking, gap filling, true or false, short answer questions, sentence completion, classification, table or chart completion, Diagram labeling, and identifying the writer’s views/claims. 
  • Writing: Letter writing, essay about your point of view regarding an argument, describing visual information in words, presenting arguments, Responding to a problem, and so on. 
  • Speaking: Communicating clearly about everyday topics, answering questions, speaking at length on a given topic, discussing and analyzing and justifying your opinion. 

Writing a Test

3. Practice Listening

The Listening section gives you four tasks. These can be monologues or conversations between two speakers. It’s important to note that these recordings will be played only once and may have a range of accents. So how do you score in your listening?

  • While at home, listen to English News like BBC radio daily.
  • Online podcasts and TED talks are other excellent ways to enhance your listening skills. TED talks feature speakers from different nationalities with their unique accents. As a result, you become a pro at figuring out different accents of English. 
  • Before you start listening to the audio make a mental note of the questions in the beginning. Try to locate the answers as you continue to hear.
  • Do not forget that you will get to hear the audio, only ONCE! Therefore, you need to become a multi-tasker. 
  • Pay attention to the order of questions. Answers follow the same chronology of the questions. The answer to the first question can be found most likely in the beginning sections.  
  • Focus on introductions in the recording to get an idea of the speaker. 
  • Check for pauses and cue words to know where a particular idea ends or begins.
  • Never stop listening thinking that you have got all your answers in place. There are chances that speakers might correct themselves later. 
  • Transferring answers neatly to the answer paper is as important as listening. But what if you have messy handwriting? Then you could use all CAPITALS in your writing making it more legible. 
  • Avoid making grammar and spelling mistakes. These are easy ways to lose marks.

4. Read Regularly and Widely 

Within 60 minutes you need to read through three passages in the Reading Section. The major focus is to identify specific points or get an overall understanding of the text. Also, identify opinions and the intention of the writer.

Here are a few things to take care of in your Reading subtest:

  • Reading speed can only improve with practice. Read extensively on any topic of your choice in English. Keep a dictionary to help you understand the meaning of new words and also find their alternatives. 
  • If you read online news like that of BBC or surf into online magazines like The Economist, you could read and practice with extremely good content. Their articles deal with a variety of topics like business, culture, economy, politics, society, and so on. What more? The extracts given in the IELTS exam closely resemble that of these websites. 
  • Reading non-fiction or perhaps literary books will also brush up your reading skills gradually. 
  • When you read long paragraphs, try paraphrasing/ rephrasing it in your own words. 
  • On the test day, skim through every paragraph in a given text and try to figure out general details like the speaker, topic, tone, style, the speaker/writer’s purpose, and the targeted audience. 
  • Just like in Listening, have an idea of the questions first and then read through the material. This can save a lot of time.
  • Getting a general idea of a sentence will do. You need not spend too much time trying to understand the precise meaning. 

5. Write Precisely

IELTS Writing subtest checks your professional writing skills in English. You have two Writing tasks to complete within 60minutes in the Writing subtests. You will be marked based on how well you could achieve and respond to the situation. Examiners also look for coherence and accuracy in the written material. There are several IELTS writing tips to improve your band score.

If writing is your weak spot, check out these easy tips to improve:

  • While you prepare, try to time your writing and stick to it to improve speed. Reduce the time as you pick up more speed. 
  • Read good quality content in English, underline grammar structures, and try to apply it in your writing.
  • Give your writing to be checked by someone good in English. Mistakes are identified better this way. 
  • The paragraphs you write must be organized. Use linking words and phrases ( Firstly, lastly, besides, to summarize) to ensure a logical flow of thoughts. 
  • Do not stuff all your ideas into one paragraph. Divide each main idea into different body paragraphs. 
  • Focus on your language more than the amount of information you try to gather. Remember IELTS tests your fluency with English and not general knowledge. 
  • Make use of perfect tenses, passive voice, conditionals, past, future tense. 
  • Repeating sentences and ideas tend to lower your marks
  • Only write the required number of words.

review notes for a test exam

6. Speak English Frequently

The Speaking test can get you on your nerves. Even though the topics cover home, family, work, or interests you might feel nervous to converse smoothly. Avoid some mistakes in speaking and overcome your fear with plenty of practice. 

  • Practice speaking English regularly among your friends or anyone willing to speak to you in English. Even while you do this see that you don’t feel discouraged in case your friend speaks better than you. 
  • Here is an interesting way to learn conversation patterns for your Speaking test. Watch English movies with the subtitles on or simply download their scripts online.  
  • Do not memorize or prepare a speech beforehand. Examiners can easily make out this and can, in turn, affect your band score.
  • Try to speak without using fillers like “Uhm, yeah, like, you know”, etc. But make sure you add pauses to avoid running through a sentence. 
  • Speak standing in front of the mirror concentrating on the pronunciation.
  • Recording your own speech is one of the easiest ways to self identify mistakes. When you listen to yourself speak you pick your weak areas easily. This also lets you have an idea of how others will hear you speak. 
  • You need not worry about your accent. Just make sure to get the message across effectively.  
  • Do not remain silent when you are asked a question. English speakers cannot tolerate silence. It’s not ok to hesitate for more than 5 seconds. In such a case, try using expressions like “That’s a tough question”, “ Let me see”.
  • Speak facing at the examiner and not the recording device. 
  • Keep your spirits high. You will be asked to talk about your life experiences in the most interesting manner possible. At most, it’s all about you, then what’s the point in being nervous.  

7. Not Leaving Answers Blank

Avoid tendencies to skip questions and coming back to it later. IELTS is rigidly timed so answering every single question as you go is of utmost importance. It’s completely okay if you are unsure of any answer. The key aspect is to guess the right answer by removing the most likely wrong answers. Who knows you might be lucky at getting it right.  At the same, do not spend too much time on one question. You do not want to skip easy questions by merely holding onto one question.

8. Avoid Some Common Mistakes 

Even while you go ahead with steady preparation it’s important to stay safe from some common pitfalls. Improving your communication is the ultimate motive. But make sure you do not follow the same pattern. Try to bring variations while reading and writing in words, sentence construction, and moderate your tone.

  • Do not repeat the same phrase from the question in your answer. You will be marked on how well you can restructure the answer in a way that satisfies the question. 
  • Writing short forms of words should be strictly avoided. For instance, writing ‘info’ for information, ‘asap’ for as soon as possible, ‘wanna’ for want to and many more. 
  • Avoid using lazy words in your formal writing like ‘etc’, ‘so on’, ‘eg’ for example. These words are insufficient to explain your information.
  • Do not use pronouns like ‘you, us, we’ too much in your writing. Such usages will make the writing sound very informal. Using first-person ‘I’ is acceptable as in most cases you will be asked to give your opinion. 
  • Avoid giving yes/no or monosyllabic answers. Nodding your head to answer questions will also give a bad impression. Remember that IELTS checks your English language fluency. So, use complete sentences in your answers. 

pencil sharper sharpening a pencil on top of a notebook

9. Do Personalized Preparation

Make your practice sessions lighter by including fun activities.  This includes lessons that would improve your English with minimum stress. 

  • Watch English tv channels, cookery shows, or maybe travel shows.
  • Play board games to boost your vocabulary. It is easy, you can access several board game resources online with English instructors. 
  • Are you fond of music? Then give a try at English songs from the ’60s. While recent songs use many slang words, old songs will help you grasp good sounding words and phrases. 

10. Take Mock Tests 

When it comes to IELTS mock tests, a candidate like yourself preparing for the first time may have a number of questions in mind. 

But do you know that IELTS mock tests are designed to meet the requirements of candidates at any stage of their preparation? On the basic level, a mock test will tell you how an IELTS exam looks like.  

  • Taking a mock test can help you get a knack of the real exam. 
  • Time management is another skill you can improve with mock tests. After taking a mock test you realize your strong and weak areas and improve accordingly. 
  • You can also eliminate your exam-time nervousness. 

Candidates with prior success in IELTS suggests that one mock test per month can shoot up your band score by two marks! 

Most of all, if you are looking to make a straight shot out of IELTS then Practice! Practice! and Practice! There is no secret formula for IELTS success without constant commitment and uninterrupted practice. Push yourself every day to work hard- no progress happens in the comfort zone! Hurry, make all the above-mentioned methods work wonders for you. Let it reflect on your results and make your overseas dream a reality.

Written By
Noufal MK is an experienced IELTS/PTE Trainer with Edoxi Training Institute Dubai. He found himself in writing for some time and still working on improving his skills. Noufal likes to write while travelling and whenever he is free from his busy IELTS training schedules. His accomplishments include enabling students to score 90/90 in all or in specific areas of the PTE Academic test and 8.5 in each area of the IELTS test or 9 in each specific area of the IELTS test.

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