How can I prepare myself for the IELTS exam test at home?
IELTS Test Preparation takes time and patience, so you need to get organised to make sure that you cover everything you need to know about the test.
There are 2 things you need to work on to improve your IELTS score:
- Your English skills
- Your test-taking skills
You already know that it takes a while to improve your English skills. Learning a language is a complex and time-consuming process that requires hard work and lots of practice. It doesn’t happen overnight.
But there are certain test-taking skills that you can develop quite easily once you know how. This is the aim of my 28-day Planner.
This article shows you how to get the best out of the planner so that you don’t waste time looking around and listening to bad advice. It will help you focus all your energies onto doing what is RELEVANT to the test.
Print off a reliable and free IELTS test on the official website.
1. Print off my 28-day planner
Get the IELTS 28-day planner here and print off a copy. Although there are lots of links in the online version, you need to have something you can write on and cross off, to motivate you, give you clarity and monitor progress.
2. Get a nice A4 file
Make sure it stands out so you can find it easily amongst your papers, and keep it next to your work station.
Fill it with a blank A4 paper notepad, and stick a pen onto it with a piece of string! Make it as easy as possible for you to do the work.
3. Decide WHEN you’re going to start.
Write the start date on your print-out, so you know Day 1 = May 1st for example. Fill in the dates for the rest of the planner.
If you have more than 28 Days, build in more breaks. Or take 2 days for each day.
4. Set aside a specific time of day
Block this off in your diary, as if you have to go to work for that time, and make yourself completely unavailable. Promise yourself that however busy you are, you will focus on the daily task in the planner for one hour a day.
5. Get support
Ask a friend or family to check that you’re working every day, or find an online partner who can start the challenge with you. We have a group of study buddies in the Members Academy community.
6. Decide HOW you’re going to use the planner
Are you going to go horizontally (do a little bit of everything each day)? Or vertically (do one skill each day)?
This depends on what your goals are. Whichever way you choose, I recommend you do a vocabulary set each day (checking meaning, pronunciation and use). Don’t try to learn more than 10 – 12 new words in one day.
7. Check the technology
Wherever possible, I have included links to relevant posts, YouTube videos and practice tests. Make sure you Bookmark/save these in your Favourites so that they are easy to find. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel and Podcast you can request notifications so that you never miss any new episodes.
IELTS Vocabulary Preparation
I have lots more tips about learning vocabulary in my 28 Ways to improve your IELTS vocabulary.
But here are the main things you can do with the planner.
8. Write the new words down every day.
Get a notebook, or write them on a clean sheet of A4 paper on your file. Check the pronunciation, write down the forms (verb, noun, adjective, adverb) and write them in a sentence.
9. Check the meaning
Use a good online learner dictionary (I like Longman) and make sure you fully understand what the word means, why it’s important and how to use it in a sentence.
10. Print off my Mind Map
Put it in your file or somewhere visible. It will help you see connections between the topics. Why not make your own for each topic and add to it when you find new words?
11. Test yourself regularly
Find the best method for you – on revision cards, using an app or getting someone to test you. Create your own Quizlet cards (I shared my Farming example in Day 1).
IELTS Test Preparation for READING
12. Find out what you need to do for your Reading Test
If you’ve never done an IELTS test, print one off from the official IELTS website.
13. Get familiar with the question types
In the planner, I provide you with a different type of question (e.g True, False, Not Given) almost every day. You need to understand how these different types of questions work so make sure that you practice an example of each one.
IELTS Test Preparation for LISTENING
14. Find out what you need to do for the Listening Test
Like the Reading Test, you need to know what types of questions you will need to answer. Do a whole test first and calculate your starting Band Score with my IELTS Band Score Calculator.
15. Print off an answer sheet
Learn how to complete it e.g. pencil only, capital letters are ok, check number of words you’re allowed, spelling must be correct, don’t leave any blank spaces.
16. Find a listening source that is suitable for IELTS
Work out how to download my IELTS Made Easier podcast (see the menu). I focus only on IELTS vocabulary so it gives you the intensive repetition and recycling and explanations that you need. Make the most of every minute of the day by listening to my podcast throughout the 28 Days of preparation.
IELTS Test Preparation for SPEAKING
28 days can make a huge difference to your Speaking confidence and exam strategy, even if you have no-one to practice with.
Get my list of topics and tips to practise by yourself on the Speaking page.
17. Prepare the topics you KNOW you will be asked
In Part 1, this will be about where you live and what you do (studies or job).
18. Prepare the grammar you need to answer Part 1 questions
Have you ever…? Do you like +ing? Which do you prefer? Did you used to…? Would you like to…?
19. Prepare an answer for each topic in Part 2
If you have one example ready for each topic (e.g. a person you admire, a building you like, something you bought), this will save you a lot of time worrying about what to talk about.
20. Record yourself for 2 minutes every day
Use the list of topics in the Speaking section of the 28-Day Planner and just talk about that topic for 2 minutes.
IELTS Writing Test Preparation
The Planner gives you an idea of the skills you need to demonstrate in the Writing Test, but there is far too much to cover in detail here.
21. Start writing
To get better at writing, you HAVE TO WRITE.
I know. Nobody writes anymore. But unless you’re taking Computer-Delivered IELTS you’ll have to write with a pen and paper for an hour – it’s tough!
So get back into the habit of writing.
22. Block off time for writing.
Get rid of any distractions, switch off your phone, and sit in a quiet place where you can think and concentrate.
23. Task 2: Read models and take notes
If you don’t have time to write every day, find a model for each topic and take notes. Find 2 or 3 advantages/disadvantages or causes/effects or problems/solutions for each topic.
24. Task 2: Have an opinion on each topic
Use the list of topics in the Vocabulary section of the 28-Day Planner and develop an opinion about each one (ask Quora e.g here I asked ‘What are the pros and cons of intensive farming?’ from Day 1 Vocab)
Focus on Learner Skills
26. Check your scores
When you do a Practice Test, write your scores on the Planner and use my Score Band Calculator to get an idea of your Band.
27. Get test savvy
Find out what the test wants from you and write your own checklist. Look at the Band Descriptors for Writing Task 1, Writing Task 2 and Speaking.
28. Do some research
It can be hard to get a high score in the IELTS test without getting some help from an experienced teacher.
Be careful about the course that you choose – here are some things you should know about before you buy a course.
If you’re having trouble deciding on the best course, check out my 2 blogs about how to find the right course for you.
My 3-Month IELTS study programme takes you step by step through each of the skills on the Planner.
You can start any time, work at your own pace or follow the Planner.
The course will make your life easier, because it covers absolutely everything you need to know and do, so that you don’t have to waste time searching around the internet and getting the wrong advice.