Top Tips for IELTS

IELTS needs analysis

Needs analysis is for me central to a good IELTS course – no matter the length. Further down the page, you’ll find a downloadable version of  my IELTS needs analysis sheet. Feel free to adapt it to your context. I adapt it to mine all the time.

Why an IELTS needs analysis

IELTS is a challenge to teach because it is a multi-entrance level test and a multi-exit level test. Students may start the process at low intermediate or even proficiency level, but they may end the process at high intermediate or proficiency level. Needs vary.

Take Alex and Alexandra. They may look the same, but in IELTS their needs are likely to be quite different. Alexandra may be very nearly there and just need a little tweaking in language and a solid introduction to IELTS exam skills. Alex by contrast is likely to need a programme where IELTS exam skills are minimised and language skills maximised.

Alex – entrance level good intermediate – wants 7.0

Alexandra – entrance level good intermediate – wants 5.5

This, for me, makes IELTS fun to teach – it really isn’t about doing the same thing over and again. I start from the position that what I do has to be tailored to the people in front of me – even in short courses – and for that some form of IELTS needs analysis is required.

What to analyse

My sheet falls into 3 main sections. It is really designed to lead into a first lesson – to be something that is discussed with the student so that you can build a course appropriate for that student. Clearly, this is harder with larger groups, but it is still possible.

IELTS needs and experience

This part I expect to be obvious. I think it is worth asking about previous experience as that may “interfere” with your teaching if the student has prepared or been prepared in a different way before.

Knowledge of IELTS

This part is simply designed to test how well the students understand the test. The questions relating to the writing and speaking scoring systems “catch out” even experienced candidates. My view is that all this is essential knowledge. Any “wrong” answers here help you build your course by explaining the criteria. It is possible to ask about the specific skills needed for listening and reading too, but I tend to avoid that at this stage – too much teacher language.

Language learning

The questions here are designed to tease out what sort of language learner you are dealing with. They are also of course designed to raise awareness that IELTS is a language test and a degree of self-study will be required.

You might care to note the question about other teachers. This is a very practical point – different teachers approach different skills in different ways. Some candidates end up being sadly confused.

I’d add that I have included some spaces for candidates to write – it is not all tick box. Sometimes there is something to be learned from the language you see here.


IELTS Needs Analysis (2778)
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12 Responses to IELTS needs analysis

  1. Arun March 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    please tell me how to improve reading score , i m stuck on 5.5 . Also ,discuss about time management plzzzz
    and how to get 7 in writing , my problem is overuse of vocab ….teacher don’t understand ! , i m stuck on 6 in W , please sir reply .. i”ll be highly thank

    what points should be follow to score 7 in speaking ?

    • Dominic Cole March 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      Sorry I really can’t help you individually. For that you need a personal teacher who can work with you and your needs. You will need to pay some money if you look for a personal tutor from this site – but they are all good.

    • hasan March 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

      Hello Arun
      Good day. I think i can help you in your writing and vocabulary issue. If you you are interested you can send me your writing .Hope I will able to feedback you. My email add Is mehedi


  2. Zain March 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    I think your problem can be simply solved if you go out of the shell and study ,I was also stuck at 6 in writting ,but I studied through the dcielts and I found it extremely useful , I knew this website since long time but I didn’t know how to use it correctly.If you want to improve your language you have to read every lesson and think carefully about the skills mentioned ,in addition you have to collect the notes and try to write every day ,try to memories the vocab mentioned on the dcielts because you will be concentrating on the ones you need in writting ,and don’t waist your time looking for vocab that you will never remember when you will do writting or speaking . furthermore , you need to download some books like common mistakes in ielts and Cambridge vocabulary which are free and informative.your punctuation also should be improved ,try to read how to use the comma specifically.Truely speaking you have to do daily efforts to improve yourself .Read as much as you can ,and listen to the daily news in English ,take notes while you listen ,you will definitely change your marks.

    • Dominic Cole March 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks for this contribution. I was thinking about doing some lessons on punctuation and you have reminded me that I haven’t yet done it! I’ll now get it done next week. More generally, I’m trying to make the site more user-friendly so that you can find the right lessons when you need them. That will take a little time though as it is a complex job.

      You comments are very sensible – especially what you say about focussing your vocabulary learning and doing things on a daily basis. Can I correct one or two mistakes in your writing here? I know that there is a difference between typing an writing but…

      waste = lose
      waist = around your stomach
      writing has one T
      Truly has no “e”

      TY for your comment


      • Zain March 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

        Thank you sir, me and all your students will need always your comments to succeed.

  3. Phúc Hảo Lê Thị March 27, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    Hi, teacher !

    Thanks for your complement. Your view is great. I’m busy. See you tonight at 7 o’clock. Bye, teacher !


  4. Kristene January 9, 2015 at 4:36 am #

    Thank you so much for this great resource! I’ve just been asked by my management at my language college to present the IELTS course and I had absolutely no idea how to go about it. Although it had been presented before by another teacher, she did not want to share her information and left at short notice, so therefore my panic. Your resources are great and it’s giving me such good ideas on presenting the course. Have a great 2015!

    • Dominic Cole September 7, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

      Just found this. Glad it helped and thanks for the feedback

  5. Yasir Afridi July 31, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    Hello sir, well I need your help in listening section 4 that it’s really fast and confusing sir please don’t ignore to reply please give me at least a technique that how to cope up this section. Sir I will be waiting for your positive response.

    • Dominic Cole September 12, 2015 at 6:30 am #

      One point to realise is that listening part 4 is harder than the other sections. It goes on for longer and the text is more complex. You should also note that you are quite likely to be tired by this point as you will have been listening for longer.

      One technique I suggest is that you look at two questions at once. Why? There is a real danger that if you miss one answer, then you will miss more because you lose your place int he listening. Hope that helps.


  1. Why is a needs analysis so important? | Training EDGE - Instructional Design, Training, Consulting, Learning - March 30, 2014

    […] ultimate goal in doing a needs analysis is to develop a concrete idea of your client’s needs or wants. Understanding all of their needs […]

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