IELTS - The 5 Step Study Plan


Hi. Welcome to I'm Adam.

Today we're going to look at an IELTS study plan, and as usual, when I look at IELTS,

or TOEFL, or any of the tests, I'm going to speak a little bit faster so those of you

taking the test can get a little bit more listening practice.

And everybody else, this is very good practice for you as well to listen to slightly faster English.

So we're going to look at IELTS.

And for those of you who are just starting to prepare, starting to think about taking

this test, maybe you want to go to university, maybe it's for immigration purposes, whatever,

you're just starting out, you've just signed up for the test, now you need to start preparing for it.

So here's a five-point study plan.

And number one is the most important part because

And I'll tell you in a minute why.

Know the test.

Now, what does this mean?

It means that you have to know exactly what you're about to face.

I've met many test takers who've taken the test maybe several times, and the first two

or three times they got a really low score because they still didn't really know what

was coming. Right?

They didn't understand how the test is structured, what the timing is like, all of these things.

So, know the test, means: Know the structure.

There are four sections; listening, reading, writing, speaking.

Make sure you know how each of them works, how much time is going to be used for each one.

In the listening section you have four sections, in the reading section you have three passages

to read, in the writing sections you have

Section you have two tasks that you have to complete.

In the speaking section you're going to be speaking with a native English speaker face

to face, one on one for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Make sure you know exactly what they're going to be asking you, what you're going to be

expected to answer back. Okay?

So know the structure of the test.

Know the timing.

You have 40 minutes, roughly, for the listening section, including a 10-minute time allotment

for copying your answers from the question sheet to an answer sheet.

This is very, very important.

Know what to do that.

If you're finished writing your answers on your answer sheet before the 10 minutes are up,

you can't go to the reading section.

You have to sit and wait, close your eyes, relax, etc.

Make sure you know the question types that you're going to face in the listening, and

the reading, and the writing of course, and the speaking.

Knowing the question types will make sure that you aren't surprised by anything.


You do not want to have surprises on test day.

Know the question types, prepare for them, begin to think about how to answer them.


Make sure you know all the directions.

Every section of the test will have its own set of directions.

Do not spend time reading these or listening to these during the test.

You should know all of the directions long beforehand, you should memorize them.

That way, you don't spend time reading them, you go straight to the task at hand.


So know the test very well.

Now, the best way to actually know the test is to practice taking the test.

Practice the test.

Now, I don't mean do, like, 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 15 minutes here.

I want you to sit down at least once a week from the time you registered or started thinking

about it until the actual test day.

There are lots of places where you can get full practice tests.

The Cambridge books are excellent for that.

They are past papers and they're real tests.

Make sure that you do a full test at least once a week from beginning to the end.

Give yourself three full hours undistracted.

Now, what does this mean?

When you go to the official test centre you cannot take your phone in with you.

You do not have internet, you do not have music, you do not have anything.

You have you in a room with a bunch of other people.

The listening is for everybody, it's on the speakers.

And the reading, and the writing, everything is by yourself, quiet in a quiet room.

Get used to this situation. Okay?

I want you to take the full test start to finish undistracted.

Lock yourself in a room every Saturday morning, for example, tell all your friends and your

family not to disturb you.

Leave your phone outside the room, don't even take it inside with you, and do it exactly

as you would on test day.

Get used to that way of doing things.

Now, if you do the full practice test a few times before the real test then you will also

understand what it's like to sit for three hours or at least two hours and 40 minutes

and focus on the test.

Now, the speaking section may be a few minutes after the paper test, it may be a few hours

later, it may be the next day.

Get used to that idea, but learn to focus for a long stretch of time on English.


Now, speaking is a little bit difficult because you're not going to have somebody to interview.

But get one of your friends or even get online, you can get some people even just to say the questions.

Get somebody to feed you the questions and just practice answering them.

Record yourself.

Record the answers, and then listen and try to give yourself feedback.

But I'm going to talk about feedback in a minute.

Okay, next you're going to have to strategize.

What does this mean? It means create a strategy for yourself in what scores you need

and what your overall objectives are.

So, start by knowing the scores you need overall and individually.

So let me give you an example.

You have person A and person B. Let's say person C, too.

Each of you needs different things.

One of you needs an overall 6.5, that's it.

Doesn't matter what you get in each individual section.

Overall, you need a 6.5.

Person B needs an overall of 7, with a minimum of 7 in each category, in each section.

And person A needs a 7.5 overall or a 7 overall, but a minimum 7.5 in writing and reading.


These are just examples.

There's all sorts of combinations.

Now, first of all: How do you know what score you need?

Well, if you're applying to university

Excuse me.

If you're applying to university, go to the website of the department or the faculty you're

applying to, they will tell you exactly what scores you need.

If you're applying for

If you're applying for immigration, go to the government website of the country you're

applying to, they will tell you what scores you need, and if you need overall scores or

if you need individual section scores.

Now, once you know the overall score or the particular things you need, then you can create

a strategy.

So let's say you need an overall 7 band, 7.0 band and it doesn't matter what you get in

each section.

This gives you a lot of opportunities because if you are a very weak writer, for example,

then you can aim for a 6 in the writing section, you can then aim for an 8 in the reading section,

and your overall will be 7, assuming you got 7 or higher in speaking and listening.

If you need

If you don't need individual scores, then you can play with the different categories

and you can focus your energy

You can focus your energy on your strong sections, on your strong skills, and just do enough

in your weak skills and then get your average.

But if you need specific scores, then those are the sections you're going to start working

the hardest on.

Now, person A needs as 7.5 in writing.

For most people who take this test, and you can even find research on the IELTS website

that will confirm this, most people that take the IELTS test score the lowest in the writing section.

This is the hardest of the four skills.

If you need a high writing score, then start working on your writing first.

Before you practice listening, before you practice reading, before you practice speaking,

start working on your writing because that is going to take you the longest time to improve

your score on, to get the skills you need, and to get the structures you need, etc.,

the vocabulary.

If you need, for example, the highest score in listening, which is not really common,

but it happens, if you need the highest score in listening start listening all the time

to English; TV shows, radio shows.

But especially start listening to actually IELTS content, IELTS listening practice exercises

and practice tests.



Basically know where the scores are you need, so I mentioned that.

Focus on the sections that are weakest first, and make sure you make up with the strongest

for those.

Have a plan for reading.

Now, the reading section

Again, you're going to be given three passages to read with a total of 40 questions about

those passages.

Have a plan.

Most people can't go to the test and read the entire passage, and then answer the questions.

There are different strategies.

If you look on engVid in the search box, you'll find videos on different ways to approach

the reading section and a lot of other videos on how to deal with all of these sections.

But very, very important that you have a plan for reading; very, very important that you

practice your writing skills.

Those are the two hardest sections on the test.

As far as the speaking section, it's not so much about whether you can speak well or not.

It's: How comfortable are you with a live interviewer?

If you're not very comfortable, make sure you have some practice with a native speaker,

ask somebody to help you maybe do the test, or just go speak to native speakers.

Get that fear out of your system long before the test.

I've met many test takers who spoke very, very good English, they go to the test their

official test day and they get like a 6 or a 6.5, and they need like a 7 or 7.5.

And I say: -"What happened? You're such a good speaker."

-"I panicked.

I got scared.

TheThe interviewer didn't smile."

Okay, they're not all going to smile.

Some of them are actually going to be quite mean to you.

They're not going to be friendly at all.

Get over it.

If you know how to speak, speak.

If you don't know how to speak, practice.

Practice with anybody you can long before test day.

Create an idea bank.

Now, this is very important for writing and speaking.

An idea bank is basically a list of vocabulary, and questions, and ideas, and examples for

different topics.

For example, in the writing section there's going to be a…

There's a very good chance you'll get a question about, like, your essay question about education,

or technology, or health, etc.

There's a few of these topics.

Have all your ideas planned before test day.

Write yourself a bunch of words related to education.

Think up of different questions, or get online or get books, create yourself a list of possible

questions about education, and study all of these and practice writing a few essays before

test day.

You can also use the idea bank for the speaking.

You'll have all kinds of different topics they're going to ask you about.

Don't try to think in the moment.

You might panic, you might lose focus - your test is done.

Have a lot of ideas ready in your head.

When they ask you about it, you're ready to go.

So many times I've had test takers come to me

And I know that they're good writers, they're good enough writers, but:

"Oh, the question, I just had no idea. I never think about this stuff."

Well, think about it before the test day.


We're going to look at a couple more things that you need to think about.

All right, so now you know what's coming, you knew

You've done a few practice tests, you know exactly what you're going to be looking at,

you have your strategy, you know what scores you need, you know how to approach.

Again, sorry, I forgot to mention about the strategizing.

Keep in mind that nobody, nobody needs 9 on the IELTS.

Very few people need an 8 even.

8.5, 8, nobody needs this.

7.5 is the standard, it'll get you into most programs.

What does…? What does this information tell you?

That on the reading section, on the listening section you can miss a few questions and still

get the score you need.

So the main thing is: Don't panic.

Now, another way to make sure you don't panic and that you do well is to practice and feedback.

Now, I mentioned before practice the test.

Now I'm talking about practice each individual section.

You need a minimum score in writing, practice the writing; you need a minimum score in reading,

practice the reading.

Of course, practice all of the sections because you need all of them for the test, but focus

on your weakness.

And if you think you only need an overall score then focus on your strength, and it'll

raise your weak score up and you'll get a good overall average.

Read every day.

Listen every day.

Write every day.

Speak every day.

Now, I cannot stress this enough: You cannot practice or prepare for this test a few days before.

If you know you're going to take the test three months from now, two months from now,

a month from now, start practicing every single day.

Read anything in English.

Listen to anything, native speaking English.

Speak every opportunity you get.

If you don't have anyone to speak to, speak to yourself.

Record yourself.

Listen to things online, get a transcript, and just try to copy what the speaker said

and record yourself, listen and compare.


Writing every single day.

Make sure your handwriting is legible.

I've seen many people get low scores because the graders probably couldn't read what they wrote.

If the graders can't read it, they can't score it, and you're going

Your score is going down. Okay?

If you have messy handwriting, practice cleaning it up.

Try not to write in script.

If your script is messy, change to block letters.

Start practicing writing in a different style, in a more legible style because you

When you go on the test day, if you

If you haven't practiced, that'll cut down your time.

It'll slow you down.

Make sure you've practiced that as well.

Now, keep in mind that reading and listening are passive skills.

That means the English is coming into you, and you process it, and you answer the questions.

It's much easier than speaking and writing, which are active skills where you have to

produce the English and then you have to express it.

Here, it's coming in, you process, you do.

Here, you process, you create, and then you express.

Very different approaches.

Much more difficult, so you need much more practice.

Now, ideally, you will get feedback, especially on these.

Reading and listening, if you get a practice

A practice material, usually it will come with an answer sheet, an answer key.

So you can check by yourself where you did wrong, what you got right, what you got wrong.

Your mistakes, you can go back to the reading, back to the listening and try to figure out

where you made your mistake.

Writing and speaking, very different.

You need somebody else to tell you what is good and bad.

In a writing, you can try to do a self-edit, but again, you still need somebody to tell

you why you're getting a 6.5 instead of a 7, why you're getting a 7 instead of a 7.5.

And keep in mind the difference between a half band in the IELTS is a big difference.

It looks like half of a point is not that much.

It's a big difference.

Make sure you know what's going on.

Now, I've had plenty of test takers come to me and they say:

"You know, I've taken this test 10 times, and every time I get 6.5 on the writing.

I need a 7."

So I say: -"Well, did you get any feedback on your essays?"


So I say: "So basically you're making the exact same mistake 10 times because you don't

know it's a mistake."

So they say: "Yes", and I…

They show me, I show them what

Where their mistakes are, what they need to do, and then the next test they get their

7 or their 7.5 just like that.

Make sure you know what you're doing wrong.

This is a very expensive test.

Don't take it 10 times.

If you need practice, don't do it at the official test centre.

Get a book, do the practice at home, save yourself some money, some time, some energy.

That all has to do with mental preparation.

You have to prepare yourself mentally for this test.

It means that you're going to have to exercise

It's an exercise in project management.

Don't think about it as English only.

Of course it's English, but it's project management.

Set yourself a goal: "This is my goal, I need a 7.5.

I need a…

I need a particular band in each section."

So this is the goal, here are the steps I'm going to take, and I'm going to work it all

together to reach my target.

It's an exercise in project management.


Every test, IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, it's not only about your knowledge, it's about

your ability to prepare, to focus, to do what needs to be done.


Again, going back to the essay, I've had many people who are very good writers get very

low scores on their essay section.


Because they didn't bother to find out what the IELTS wants in an essay.

They didn't have a proper introduction, body, conclusion.

As soon as I showed them the structure that's necessary, they went and they got their score

the next time they took the test.

Know the test, know what you need to do, prepare yourself mentally.

Now, turn on your English brain.


Think, do everything in English.

Whenever you have the opportunity, whenever you're not speaking to your friends who speak

your language, your native language, think in English, read in English, listen in English.

Do everything you can to keep your brain focused on English.

And the day before and the day of and the night before, all English.

Don't study the night before, don't do practice exercises, don't read anything too complicated.

Read a comic book, read a sports newspaper, listen to some English songs, watch a TV sitcom

in English, but just get your brain used to the English so when you go to the test your

brain's already ready for the English that's coming to it. Okay?

The day before or the night before go to sleep at a proper time, get a full night's sleep,

be fresh the day

The day of the test.

If you're a coffee drinker, have your coffee earlier and don't drink another coffee before

you get to the test.

Coffee will bring you up, but then it will bring you back down halfway through the test

and you'll lose focus.


Eat protein, egg, whatever protein you like, have it before you go to the test.

You can take a bottle of water with you, that's about it.

Make sure you're not hungry, make sure you're not thirsty.

Make sure you're fresh and concentrating on English.

Don't study the night before or the morning of.

Just English.

Surround yourself with English.

That's all you need to do.

If you don't know where the test centre is and you're trying to find it out on the morning

of, I guarantee you: You will walk into the test centre stressed and you'll do badly.

Make sure you go to the test center at least a day or two or a week before so you know

how to get there, you know how long it'll take you, you know the best routes, etc.

Go early, relax.

I personally recommend don't talk to other student, they'll

They'll just stress you out.

"Oh, do you know this? Do you know that?" No.

Relax, sit by yourself, listen to some music, close your eyes.

Be fresh, be confident, be ready.

And when you go to the speaking test, it's just a person.

This person is not going to take out a knife and stab you.

This person doesn't care about you, to be honest.

The graders are doing a job, they're getting paid, they don't care.

If they don't smile, they don't smile.

If they do smile, don't let that fool you, either.

Just do their test, go home, relax.

And another thing to remember, this is the most important thing: Once you pass this test

and get the score you need, you will never have to do it again.

So do it properly, do it well the first time, pass, and move on. Okay.

I hope this helped you and I hope those of you who are getting ready to do this test

will do this properly and get your score the first or second time.

Save your money, save your time, save your energy.


If you have any questions, by all means, please go to the forum and ask your

questions there.

I'll be happy to help.

If you need study materials, again, go to, go to the search box, type

in "IELTS", we have lots of videos there to help you with the writing, the reading, the

speaking, the listening.

All the sections are covered.

Lots of videos.

I've made some videos there, other teachers have made some very good videos there.

Look around, start preparing.

If you need even more help than that, if you want a little bit more explanation on grammar

and writing especially, you can visit my site,

I concentrate on the writing section and help you prepare for these English tests.

You can also watch some videos there as well that I've made for this particular purpose.

I will put up a quiz at just to make sure you understood, that you absorbed

all this information.

I really hope you like this lesson, I hope it helps you.

If you did, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and I'll

You're going to see lots more good videos like this.

And come back again, and I'll have some more videos for you next time.