Getting a high score on the International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, can open a lot of doors. The IELTS, which measures a test taker’s English language proficiency, is accepted by hundreds of universities across the UK, US, Canada, Europe and Australia as a standard for admitting international students. It’s also an important achievement for professionals in a wide range of industries, from healthcare to accounting to law, hoping to work internationally in an English-speaking country.
Perhaps most importantly, the IELTS is also used by many English-speaking countries as a requirement for migrants to prove that they’re proficient in the language as they seek permanent residency. The comprehensive test, which is divided into four parts and takes almost three hours to complete, is clearly a huge step for many international students, professionals, and migrants.
Doing well on the IELTS is a key achievement for those hoping to study, work, and live in English-speaking countries. In this article, I’ll jump into how the test works, then share seven helpful tips for how to get the score you need to unlock your goals.
Top 7 Tips to Boost Your Score
1. Invest in a Class
While it can be difficult to squeeze class time into an already full schedule, it’s hard to deny that the best way to learn a new skill is to set aside time to be taught.
Thankfully, there are numerous online IELTS courses available that provide much more flexibility than the night school sessions of yesteryear.
One of the most effective (and affordable) options for hopeful IELTS-takers is the IELTS Coach offered by the British Council English Online programme, which offers flexible group classes based on your preference and ability.
English Online IELTS Coach teachers are experienced and knowledgeable, and can provide coursework and guidance that is proven to be effective for upping your IELTS score.
English Online IELTS Coach also offers a desirable level of customizability. Students can choose the class that best aligns with their goals, and can select the timetable that works best with their schedules.
Plus, the site offers three different IELTS Coach Packages depending on your requirements, so you can find a helpful course that won’t break your budget.
2. Work With a Coach
If a class isn’t giving you the results you need, working one-on-one with a coach might be the next step to consider.
One-on-one practice is incredibly valuable for language learning, as your coach can help you with everything from correct pronunciation to learning common colloquialisms.
Plus, working with a one-on-one coach builds more motivation and accountability into your language learning practice than just completing homework assignments.
If you happen to know a native English speaker who might be willing to coach you or even just have some casual conversations over coffee, don’t be shy in asking them to help.
If you want more specific instruction, though (or don’t have a native English speaker handy to help), BritishCouncil also offers one-on-one sessions with IELTS experts.
These highly trained IELTS tutors know their way around the exam and can help you target the skills you need to improve, making even just a few sessions a super useful way to prepare for your test date.
Of course, you can also peruse international message boards and freelance platforms to find IELTS coaches, but take care to vet their qualifications carefully to make sure you’re not wasting time or money!
3. Add in Some Fun Practice
Classes and coaches may be the most effective ways to master a new language, but you can also build your English comprehension with some more lighthearted learning strategies, too.
Self-paced learning apps and courses are a great way to improve your English knowledge without making a huge time commitment.
BritishCouncil’s self-led English course offers similarly bite-sized learning opportunities that, when used consistently, can add up to big language gains.
These quick and entertaining apps and courses can help you brush up your vocabulary, practice basic grammar, and connect with a network of other English learners online.
Plus, you can take these apps on the go and incorporate quick chunks of IELTS practice into your daily bus ride, lunch break, or down time.
4. Switch Up Your Settings
Sometimes small changes can be instrumental in helping us form new habits and patterns.
With this in mind, try switching your phone or internet settings to English, to force your brain to start “thinking” in a new language.
You can always toggle back to your native language if needed, but oftentimes context clues can help us place unfamiliar words even when we’re not one hundred percent sure of their meaning.
Getting used to following simple directions, navigating technology, and browsing headlines in English can go a long way in laying a solid foundation of understanding.
While this is obviously not the way to become fluent in English, making small adjustments can help you become mentally and intellectually immersed in your new language.
5. Engage with English Media
Another relatively low lift for language learning is to start consuming visual media in English.
Whether you’re watching the latest news or silly social media reels, by partaking in English media you’ll be exposed to a greater amount of vocabulary and context.
Plus, watching recent media in English will ensure that you’re building the vocabulary you need to discuss current events, which are often explored on the Speaking section of the IELTS.
It goes without saying that the more you’re exposed to the language, the more naturally you’ll be able to speak it and understand new scenarios.
By watching media in English, you can painlessly build your fluency and comprehension for the IELTS.
6. Make Time to Read
TV and Tiktok are all well and good, but there’s also nothing to compare to actually reading a book in English.
Reading is an excellent way to absorb new vocabulary and familiarize yourself with written grammar and punctuation. Reading can also strengthen your comprehension and writing abilities.
Start where you are, maybe by rereading a translation of a favorite book or even a children’s story.
You don’t have to force yourself to read a textbook or complete worksheets… unless you want to, in which case there are numerous take-home curriculum options available for purchase or from the library.
Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter if the content isn’t exactly scholarly.
The point is to get more comfortable pulling meaning from English-written texts, which is a large part of the Reading and Writing section of the IELTS.
The more time you devote to reading, the stronger your comprehension and written expression skills will become. You can even read out loud to increase your fluency and work on your accent.
Plus, if you’re reading books that interest you, you might find yourself actually looking forward to this easy method of practice!
7. Sing, Debate, and Discuss
One of the trickiest things about mastering a new language is actually bringing yourself to speak it out loud.
Understanding usually comes before the ability to speak confidently, but to do well on the IELTS, you’ll need to show you can not only comprehend but also respond fluently.
The best way to make this possible is to get comfortable with speaking!
Classes and coaches will of course incorporate speaking practice into the daily routine, as do most self-paced apps and courses. Reading aloud, as we noted, is another good way to put your voice to use.
You can increase your speaking practice a step further, however, by learning songs in English or recording yourself discussing or debating an intriguing subject.
Memorizing poems or raps can also help you build that essential fluency piece and make you more comfortable with speaking the language out loud.
The more you practice voicing English out loud, the faster you’ll be able to perfect your accent, grow your confidence, and ace the Speaking section of the IELTS!
How Does the IELTS Work?
The IELTS was originally launched in 1980, by the British Council and Cambridge University Press and assessment.
Though its name and format have evolved over the years, the purpose of the IELTS has always been to provide an innovative way for test takers to demonstrate the depth of their English comprehension.
Today, the test is available in two modules: the Academic Module and the General Training Module.
As the name suggests, the Academic Module of the IELTS is more geared toward those with scholarly intentions, while the General Training Module is focused on a less formal grasp of the language.
Both modules are divided into four parts: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.
The Reading and Writing sections of the test differ based on whether the test taker is completing the Academic or the General Training, but both tests require a comprehensive understanding of the language to achieve a high score.
There is no pass or fail grade for the IELTS. Instead, results are calculated to a nine-band score, with nine being an “Expert” level and one representing a “Non User” who is essentially unable to communicate.
Many universities, institutions, and visa requirements demand at least a seven-band score from applicants, which corresponds to a “Good” level encompassing strong understanding of complex language and reasoning.
So, how can you attain that elusive seven-band score (or higher)? Read on to learn some of our strongest suggestions for leveling up your IELTS score.
These tips are just some of the many ways you can improve your English proficiency and achieve the IELTS score you’re dreaming of.
Best of luck, and happy learning!
Have you taken the IELTS? Know any surefire tips we forgot to mention here? We’d love to hear your insights in the comments below!