Top Tips for IELTS

Exam preparation – timing

On the writing and reading papers time is your enemy. Sometimes it can seem fairly straightforward to complete an IELTS essay in 40 minutes, but can you do it under exam circumstances when you have just spent 60 minutes doing three readings?

A common mistake – do everything timed

Perhaps the obvious thing to do is to do all your writing and reading timed. I disagree. In fact, I think it’s a big mistake. If you practise that way, you may finish the paper, but I rather doubt you will improve your writing. What is much more likely to happen is that you will repeat all the same mistakes.

How to practise – learn the skills first

My advice is different. Accept that it takes time and practice to improve your reading and writing skills. Concentrate first on learning the skills – do not worry over much about time. Start doing your essay in 60 minutes (for example) and as you get nearer the exam, do it 2/3 minutes more quickly each time. When you can write a good essay in 40 minutes, then you know you are ready.

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11 Responses to Exam preparation – timing

  1. minx January 1, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Thank you. I was thinking of exactly doing this but I was afraid I might become too comfortable of doing 1 hour each essay. You are right, I make the same mistakes and I don’t seem to get an essay done. I am going to try this. Thank you very much!

    • Dominic Cole January 1, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      Thank you for your comment. This is one of my oldest posts but actually I think a super important one.

      It’s very easy to think that the main problem in IELTS – particularly the reading- is time. Actually it isn’t. The problem is whether you have the correct language skills or not.

      Something I didn’t say in this post – which I’ll try and revise soon – is that it’s a really good idea to make yourself a programme. By this I mean you keep track of what exercises you have done, how you scored, how long you took to do them and whether you revised them. The benefit of this is that it puts you in control of the learning process.

  2. Ben Worthington July 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Solid advice there, I think I’ll try it in my classes.

    • Dominic Cole July 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      Hope it works! Don’t blame me if it doesn’t.

  3. mary July 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Hello Dominic, just wanna say Thank you so much for everything.

  4. Carlo December 31, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    Hello Dominic, Thank you so much for your help.

    Happy new year !! You are the best 🙂


  5. Sabahul February 3, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Just wanted to say Thank you very much…

    • Sarathi PB August 25, 2012 at 1:52 am #

      Have you appeared any exam till now. How was it?

  6. meme September 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    well , i have a big problem in this …

    when i read any reading passage i dont have enough patient yo read the whole questions .. i just get bored , bored more than anyone can imagine so i when i reach to the third part of reading exam , i do it all in only few minutes .. that means i just answer them in RANDOM way
    – BTW i’m Arabian so maybe that’s why i hate involving my self in complex English reading passages for more than 30 mins

    please help me with advice

  7. fool October 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Become familiar with the test as early as possible.

    Use your study time efficiently.

    Be aware of the exact procedure for the test.

    Having a study partner or a study group is an excellent idea.

    Seek help from teachers, friends.

  8. jatin July 13, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    There is no doubt in this tips.but i have fear that can i complete the whole reading in one hour if i do my reading with this tips?

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