My name is Dave and I’m a former IELTS examiner and below you can read a complete guide to prepare for IELTS and get a high score – above band 7!
I took some of the questions that I get on my Facebook, my Instagram and on YouTube everyday and put them together along with the best links to get you started and help you along your IELTS journey.
Consider supporing my efforts to write these essays but signing up for my exclusive IELTS Ebooks here on Patreon.
‘How should I start studying for IELTS?’
This is a really key area and so many students make mistakes here and end up wasting money and time!
First you need to know what your current level is by reading about that here.
Next, you need to have a realistic idea of how long it will take to get the score that you need.
Finally, you can make a clear IELTS study plan.
Follow those links and you will have the right mindset for the job ahead. If you are not ready for IELTS, you will end up wasting a lot of time and money.
‘I have problems with listening – can you help me?’
There are two main issues that you might have: test strategy and improving your listening.
Here is a basic guide to IELTS listening to get you started on the test strategy.
If you need some more test strategy you can take a look here: labelling maps and multiple choice questions.
If you need to improve your actual listening skills, read about that here: the 3 keys to improving your listening skills.
One thing that is really important is that all the listening practice in the world won’t help if you don’t improve your grammar and especially vocabulary.
You need to work on your listening skills but you really need to improve your vocabulary. Once you do that, listening will become much easier!
‘My reading is weak – how can I improve my reading?’
Reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary and if you are serious about IELTS then you should be reading for at least a few hours everyday.
Here are basic steps for reading on IELTS.
Here is the difference between studying IELTS reading and actually improving your reading ability in English.
Click here for some ideas about how to read the news every day.
Remember that reading will have the greatest trickle down effect on your other scores because it will really boost your vocabulary.
It is only one step – you need to listen a lot and practice using new vocabulary in both speaking and writing – but it is the important first step!
If you aren’t reading a lot, you are missing a great opportunity to learn new words that will surely be useful on the test in some way!
‘I really need to work on my writing. Can you help me?’
Yes, I offer a writing corrections service as well as full online courses.
If you just want to learn more about IELTS writing, then you can learn the basics here.
And the structure here.
And see all the sample answers that I wrote myself here: Task 2 Writing and Task 1 Writing.
Task 1 writing is particularly difficult becuase there are so many different question types: charts with time, with no time, maps, processes – enough to make your head spin!
Make sure you practice with each one at least once and refer to my sample answers above!
‘I don’t have anyone to practice speaking with. What can I do to speak English more naturally?’
There are a number of ways to do this. You can find a friend or teacher to practice with. You can sign up for my online courses.
I often recommend that students combine self-study with a tutor. Study at home and then hire a foreigner to do speaking practice with a few times a week.
If none of those options work for you, you can also read some activity ideas about studying without a partner here.
Whatever you do – just make sure that you do it!
I want to prepare for the IELTS speaking topics. What is the best way to do that?
A lot of websites will present ‘forecasts’ of the questions on IELTS. That is absolute nonsense – it makes no sense that the test would allow that, no one would trust IELTS!
But they do use the same speaking questions for about a year before changing booklets and new questions. That means there are 30 possible part 1 speaking topics and a ton of possible part 2 and 3.
It’s a good idea to use those as a source of preparation while you are improving for IELTS.
But don’t think that you can just memorise answers and deliver them on the test – it won’t work and you will just annoy the examiner!
Here are some of my IELTS speaking model answers: phones, friends, school, mornings, history, the Avengers, and a full IELTS speaking test with me!
‘My speaking is good but my pronunciation is terrible and it never improves. What can I do about my pronunciation?’
This is one of the most common problems that I hear about. In Vietnam, where I live and work, the most common score for pronunciation is band 5. If you get 6s for fluency, vocabulary, and grammar then you will get an overall 5.5 if your pron is only 5!
I know many students who study for years and years and improve their other skills but their pronunciation seems to be glued in place.
I have developed a method that has been very effective over the last 10 years for thousands of students. You can read all about my method here.
‘It’s so hard for me to think of ideas on IELTS. How can I think of ideas?’
This has to become a consistent habit just like any other skill that you study for IELTS.
You can start here with some simple activities that you can do throughout the day to improve your brainstorming ability.
‘I need to improve my vocabulary. How can I do that?’
This is a very complex question but the simplest and most effective way to improve vocabulary is by reading more.
The more you read, the better your vocabulary will be – it is the same in your native language: the best readers have the best vocabulary.
Read here for some ideas about reading the news and here for some ideas about subtitles when watching shows.
Reading might get boring so you should also improve your vocabulary by watching videos on YouTube or Netflix.
You can read here to make sure that you aren’t learning the wrong words in your preparation for IELTS.
‘My grammar is so bad! Help me to make my grammar better!’
Grammar is such a big topic that you need to start with small steps and move on slowly from there.
Don’t try to master all of English grammar in a day – it will take years and be a gradual process with advances and defeats.
Here is a guide to using grammar in IELTS speaking part 2.
This will help you make sure that you are accurately using simple grammar.
Here are the top grammar websites that I recommend for self-study.
Finally, you should get some practice using modals for opinions and suggestions because that is sure to come up on IELTS.
‘Where can I find out basic information about IELTS?’