Information to Get the Best IELTS Test Score Possible

Information to Get the Best IELTS Test Score Possible

So many of my students ask me, ‘How can I get the best IELTS score possible?’

OK, so the most obvious thing is to do lots of practice and make sure your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are good enough to get the IELTS Band Score you need.

First of all, I suggest that you familiarise yourself with what’s expected in the test on the official IELTS website ( but in the meantime, I’m going to make it really easy for you by giving you some information about what to expect.

In my opinion half the battle is knowing the IELTS test procedure. If you’ve ever had to sit a test more than once, think how much easier it was the second time because you knew what to expect! I should know; I failed my driving test FOUR times!

What is the IELTS test?

The first thing to do is to check that IELTS is actually the test you need.

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System; it is an English testing system which assesses the language ability of people who want/need to study in an English speaking environment. Many employers, universities and immigration authorities require that you have a certain IELTS Band Score before they will accept your application.

When thinking about when you’re going to take the test, it’s important to remember that your IELTS Band Score is only valid for 2 years.

Next, you must decide which version of the test is the best IELTS test version for you. There are two versions of the IELTS test; the Academic version and the General Training version. If you wish to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you must take IELTS Academic version, if you wish to emigrate or work overseas, IELTS General Training version is appropriate.

The two versions have four sub-tests or modules; reading, writing, listening and speaking. The IELTS Listening and IELTS Speaking sub-tests are the same in both the Academic version and the General Training version but the IELTS Reading and IELTS Writing sub-tests are different. A certified examiner, who has undergone thorough training will assess your writing and speaking skills and give you a Band Score in those sub-tests.

How do I apply for the IELTS test?

I recommend you go to the official IELTS website and download ‘The IELTS handbook’andIELTS Information for Candidates’. These 2 booklets both explain how to apply to take the test, however I’ll give you a brief overview and some of my own comments here.

1. You apply to your local IELTS Test Centre to sit the test.

You can find your nearest test centre of the official IELTS website; you’ll find the address, contact details and the upcoming test dates.

2. Go to the IELTS Test Centre to get an application form. If it’s difficult for you to go there, you can download an application form from the official IELTS website. You could even ask if the Test Centre would mail one out to you.

3. Decide what date you want to take the test and fill in the application form. Make sure you write the correct module; Academic or General Training, depending on what you need.

4. If possible, get a native English friend to check over your application form for you.

5. Send your completed form to the Test Centre you wish to attend, together with 2 passport sized photos and the test fee.

6. Make sure you provide the same ID on test day as you put on your application form. If the 2 forms of ID are different, you will not be allowed to take the test. If for any reason, this won’t be possible, contact the Test Centre immediately.

7. Once your application form has been processed, the Test Centre will send you a confirmation letter with the date and time of the test and also some instructions for the day.

What do I do on Test Day?
Well, first of all make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before and that you have a good breakfast (yes, I’m also a mum!). If your speaking test is on the same day, remember you will also need to have lunch.

Don’t forget to take your ID with you as it will be checked on your arrival.

Be aware that you can’t take your belongings, including your mobile phone into the test room. There will be a specified area outside the room where you can leave them.

As with all exams, once the invigilator (the test supervisor) has stated that the test has started, no talking is allowed. If you need to ask something, just raise your hand.

The listening test is first, then reading, then writing (I will give you further details about the different sub-tests in my next posts). Your Test Centre will tell you the time (and date) of your speaking test.

And then what?

Once the test is over, all there is to do is to wait for your results. IELTS test results are posted out on the 13th day after your test so you should receive them 2 weeks after the test. It may be possible to go to the Test Centre on the 13th day after the test to collect your results but you will have to ask them. The Test Centre cannot, however, give you your results over the phone or via fax or email.

You don’t get a certificate after taking IELTS; you get a Test Report Form (TRF) with your results. Look after your Test Report Form, you only get one copy. Remember, however, that you can ask for additional copies (a maximum of five) to be sent to the organisation asking for your result (university, immigration etc.)

Hopefully it’s now time to celebrate! If not, don’t despair; see my post ‘What todo if your IELTS score isn’t high enough’. It may be possible to salvage the situation. In any case, it’s time to move ‘onwards and upwards’!

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

An IELTS Coach – Waiting For You To Ask

An IELTS Coach – Waiting For You To Ask

“I know I need help with my IELTS* exam preparation. But I don’t know anyone I can ask to help me…”

This is a common problem for IELTS candidates.

But often there are people within your social circle who are able to help who would be delighted if you asked them for assistance.

Here are 7 people who you can consider who might hold the key to your puzzle:

1. Your co-worker. A co-worker is an ideal candidate to approach to help you with your IELTS exam preparation. This is someone you see often, possibly every day. She or he will be aware of how important it is to you to pass the exam – what it means to you in terms of career registration, immigration status or job promotion. You also have a lot to talk about – your customers, clients or patients, your work routines. You share a common vocabulary. And you probably have a location to meet without making special travel arrangements. So your co-workers should be at the top of your prospect list.

2. Your fellow club-member. Someone who belongs to the same sports or hobby club is another good prospect. Again, you have plenty in common to talk about or write about. And you’ meet regularly. You will be able to suggest a coaching time before or after your game or meeting and fit it into a regular schedule based on your club activities.

3. A member of your church. If you belong to a church group or a similar society, chances are that you are able to identify a potential coach there. In my experience church members tend to be generous with their time and eager to offer any assistance they can to new immigrants or foreign visitors. If you are not able to work out who to approach at your church, a good idea is to talk to the pastor or priest in charge of the congregation. When he understands what it is you need, he will probably be happy to set up the arrangement for you with an ideal prospective coach.

4. Your relative or in-law. Do you have an uncle or a cousin who is a native speaker of English or who speaks English fluently? Don’t be shy to ask. Or, if you are too shy, ask one of your other relatives to make the approach on your behalf.

5. Your homestay family or your room-mate. The advantage of having a room-mate or a homestay member coach you is that you have plenty of chances to meet and you will have a ready-made location for your coaching sessions. You may want to offer a service in exchange for this help. How about “I’ll wash the dishes for the next 3 weeks if you can spare me an hour a week to help me with my IELTS preparation…”?

6. Your classmate. Don’t target a fellow classmate from your ESL** class. You need someone who is fluent in English. If you are also taking a course in maths, or physiotherapy, or jazz-dancing or flower-arrangement, look for a potential coach among your classmates there. Before you make your approach, work out a number of possible times or locations for your coaching sessions, so that your classmate has some options to consider.

7. Your boss. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss! Chances are, he or she will have a genuine interest in seeing you do well in your upcoming IELTS exam, and will be glad to offer assistance. Think of it this way, even if your boss can’t help, if he says “Sorry, no way. I’ve just got too much to do as it is!” this still will not do you any harm. You have signaled to your boss how serious you are about the exam and how determined you are to succeed. So whether he says “yes” or “no” this is a win-win situation for you. And it is possible that your boss may suggest someone else from the work team who can give you the help you need.

These are my top seven suggestions for identifying a coach to help you prepare for your IELTS exam. Try to think outside the square and you may come up with some others on your own. If you do, let me know!

Happy hunting, and good luck with the exam!

There are thousands of courses and professional resources available for people preparing for the IELTS exam. But what if you don’t have the time or the opportunity to attend a class? Barbara Takase has had more than 20 years working with IELTS teachers and candidates. To find out more about her practical ideas and sources of help to prepare for the exam visit Barbara’s IELTS Help Today blog. Available on

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IELTS Exam Becomes a Nightmare For Nurses

IELTS Exam Becomes a Nightmare For Nurses

IELTS exam band score is an important qualifying requirement for immigration purpose. Nurses from other nations should meet the minimum IELTS score for immigrating to Australia, UK, New Zealand and Canada. Majority of nurses migrating to these nations are from India, Pakistan, Philippines and China. Increasing the minimum IELTS score band requirement in Academic section from 6.5 to 7 in all 4 sections has made life miserable for many skilled immigration aspirants from these Asian nations.

The nursing council has increased the IELTS band score to 7 to ensure that nurses with good English language communication works in their hospitals. As per the nursing council, the main part of nursing job is proper communication with the patient and doctors. So increasing the minimum equipment of IELTS will improve the patient care and relationship with other hospital staff.

For nurses from Asian countries, they start learning English from high school level. They don’t have an environment other than their schools and colleges to improve their English communication skills. After obtaining nursing certificates, all these candidates enroll a nearby coaching centre for a month for preparing IELTS exam. Since the band of 6.5 was comfortable score for all aspirants to score, IELTS exam was a exam which can be attended with a 1-2 month training

Now the band is increased to 7, which too in all sections, has made more fine-tuning of English language skills from the student’s side for scoring it. IELTS exam scores are determined based on exponential increase in difficulty. Now the nursing students from Asian nations have to spend 2-3 months of continuous IELTS coaching. Now, many students obtain the score after second and third attempt. Students after passing out directly joins a IELTS coaching centre for a 3 month course, instead of practicing in a hospital, which they are trained for.

The increase in the IELTS score band has not decelerated the ambitions of the nurses from Asian nations looking for immigration for a bright future.


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An IELTS Coach – Wise Choices, Dangerous Choices

An IELTS Coach – Wise Choices, Dangerous Choices

Your IELTS* exam date is set. You have been studying hard. But there is one aspect that you are still worrying about. It could be your weak spelling or your limited vocabulary. Perhaps you know that pronunciation needs urgent attention. You need help – one-to-one help. You need help now.

You have native English-speaking friends and work-mates. One of them will probably be prepared to spend some time with you in the lead up to the IELTS exam. But what KIND of person should you approach to ask for help?

Here are five criteria to look for in your potential coach. And I will warn you about two types of people not to approach.

First, the five important traits to look for:

1. Someone cheerful. Your ideal coach is someone with a sense of humour and a cheerful outlook on life. Look for someone who will not take things too seriously or become irritated with your requests for help.

2. A native speaker of English or someone well-educated in English. Choose someone who is confident and competent in the language. The most cheerful, positive person in your workplace might in fact lack thebasic English education to be able to help you. If you ask someone to help you with your English spelling and if they tell you that their own spelling is hopeless, just have a laugh about it together and let that person withdraw. The best thing now is to move on to your next prospect.

3. Someone positive. Choose someone who has a positive attitude to his or her work, who enjoys taking on a project and seeing it through to completion.

4. Someone patient. Notice people who are patient with their customers and their subordinates. If they are thoughtful and courteous to other people in your workplace, this is the kind of person who may be prepared to make the effort to help with your IELTS preparation.

5. Someone busy. Does this sound strange? Often the busiest person is the one who is the most organized, and, strange as it might seem, the one who will be most generous with his or her help. So don’t eliminate someone from your list of prospects just because she seems “too busy”!

But there are two categories of potential IELTS coach that I would urge you to approach with extreme caution.

1. The first is a professional teacher of English. Don’t get me wrong. If you have the time to join an IELTS class, or if you are ready to pay for professional coaching, this is absolutely a valuable investment of your time and money. Do not hesitate. Get the help you need. My warning is this: do not, as a friend, approach a professional teacher and ask for this kind of one-to-one coaching, free of charge, as a personal favour.

Try to see it from your friend’s point of view. If your friend is an English language teacher, she is spending most of her day in front of a class. In her free time, probably the last thing she will want to do is provide more English language teaching. She might agree to your request, but she will, at some level, begin to resent your taking advantage of her good nature.

2. The second “proceed with extreme caution” category is this: I refer to your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend. The lead-up time to an important exam like IELTS can be a nerve-stretching time both for you and for the people you are living with. Asking your partner to act as your IELTS coach can add an additional level of stress to the relationship. It is a similar scenario to having your wife or husband teach you to drive a car or play golf – a situation full of pitfalls. I have sometimes seen it cause damage to a once-strong relationship. Avoid this scenario if you possibly can. Find your helper at work or in one of your other social circles.

So now, having taken on my two words of caution, you should have a clear psychological profile of the kind of person you’re looking for to help coach you through your IELTS exam preparation weeks. Someone

· cheerful

· educated

· positive

· patient

· and busy!

Happy hunting, and good luck with that IELTS exam!

*IELTS – International English Language Teaching System is the world’s leading test of English for higher education, immigration and employment.

There are hundreds of courses and professional resources available for people preparing for the IELTS exam. But what if you don’t have the time or the opportunity to attend a class? Barbara Takase has had more than 20 years working with IELTS teachers and candidates. For free practical ideas and sources of help to prepare for the exam, visit Barbara’s IELTS Help Today blog. Available on

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Online IELTS Preparation – Why Does It Make Sense?

Online IELTS Preparation – Why Does It Make Sense?

Because IELTS is a difficult test. While most agree that IELTS is a reasonable test, it is generally regarded as one of the most challenging tests of its type.
Because IELTS has question types peculiar to it. Among the ten or so question types IELTS commonly uses, about half are used only by it or in ways unique to it. In particular, the Reading Task questions about identifying the writer’s point of view is unique to IELTS and particularly challenging, since it requires
“reading between the lines,” a skill that usually has to be taught.
Because IELTS uses familiar question types in unique ways. IELTS short answer questions, for example, are asked in three different ways. In all cases, at least at most testing centers, the unwritten rule is that the answers must be no longer than three words each. So, even if you have the write answer but have
expressed it in more than three words, your answer will be
counted as wrong.
Because IELTS sometimes asks even familiar question types in
deliberately tricky ways. IELTS may, for example, provide a
statement expressed in positive language as a true-or-false
question when the answer in the Listening or Reading exercise
appears in negative terms that have the same meaning as the
positive words in the question. IELTS also may ask questions
that require candidates to combine information from different
places to arrive at the correct answer. In the Listening test,
IELTS sometimes asks questions at the end of a section that
require candidates to have been keeping track throughout the
exercise; so, if the candidate has not read the question first,
he or she may not be prepared to answer.
Because IELTS has specific formats it wants followed. It’s not enough merely to write or speak well, for the IELTS Writing and Speaking tasks, it is critical that candidates answer in the
ways IELTS expects them to. That means following often detailed
formats that can be learned only in IELTS Preparation courses.
In particular, there are rules about the Speaking task – and
particular its middle section, during which candidates speak on
their own – that are not explained to candidates in advance.
Because IELTS penalizes candidates as much as whole band point for not answering questions as asked. For example, if the Writing Task 2 question asks a candidate his or her opinion on a topic and the candidate writes about the various opinions pro and con with respect to that topic, there will be a penalty of an entire band point no matter how well the candidate writes.

There is no substitute for good, solid English skills. They are what IELTS measures. But without an in-depth introduction to the many things that are either specific to the IELTS test or the particular ways IELTS expects common tasks to be performed, it is unlikely that a candidate will earn the highest possible score.

Svend Nelson is a university lecturer and internet entrepreneur. He is director of UniRoute Limited, a Hong Kong based company with offices in Bangkok and London providing IELTS Online Preparation, a study abroad program and other web-based courses for university preparation. Svend lived and worked in various countries across Latin America, Europe and Asia before settling in Thailand.

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Effective IELTS Preparation Online – What Should You Expect?

Effective IELTS Preparation Online – What Should You Expect?

The IELTS exam is a difficult test but not an impossible one. It tests the English-language skills that students actually need to succeed in graduate programmes, and its assessments are rigorous and thorough.

That said, IELTS also expects each of the four tasks – listening, reading, writing and speaking – to be done in a particular way. It doesn’t necessarily specify what that way is. Consequently, many ILTS candidates with high English language skills score more poorly than they might if they knew the “rules.”

The prime criterion of a good IELTS preparation course is that it trains candidates in the ways IELTS wants to see things done. Also, because IELTS often asks tricky questions, it is imperative that anyone who wishes to achieve a high score learn the tricks, how to spot them, and how to overcome them.

To decide whether a particular IELTS preparation course is fully adequate, look for specific guidance in the following aspects of each of the four tasks:


Check to see that the different demands of each of the four sections of the Listening Test is explained.

Then make sure that there is a good explanation of the question types that are most often encountered in Listening. Although any of the question types used in the Reading Test can also be used in Listening, the Listening Test is more likely to focus on form-filling, summary gap-filling, short-answer, true-and-false and fact-and-opinion questions. You should find instruction not only on those question types and how they work,
but also on the indirect ways IELTS often asks questions, the way it relies on rewordings of things that are spoken – so that you have to understand the same idea expressed in two different ways – and words before and after key ideas that change the meaning of words supplied in questions.

There also should be tips on how to anticipate answers before you hear them.


Make sure that there is thorough explanations of all the IELTS question types, how they work, how IELTS sometimes asks them, and how you should answer them.

Check that there are at least three readings of appropriate IELTS length and difficulty, so you can learn to time yourself to read a passage and answer 13 questions in 20 minutes.

Look to see if there are useful tips on how to read quickly and with the single purpose of answering questions correctly. Normal advice about “speed reading” is not enough, because the issue is not how fast you read or even how much of the passage you understand – just how many questions you answer correctly.

Writing Task 1

Look to see that there are complete explanations about how to comprehend information presented in graphic formats such as graphs, bar charts, pie charts and diagrams. You must know how to “read” all six types of graphic data correctly, or you will make inaccurate observations that are the fatal flaw of Writing Task 1.

Make sure there is a complete, sentence-by-sentence explanation of the report form. No matter what data you are
asked to describe, the report format is the same and must be understood completely and thoroughly.

Check to see that all the vocabulary you need to describe information precisely is provided. There should be appropriate vocabulary lists, indications of how to combine words, and clear explanations of the different kinds of vocabulary different features of graphic information require.

Writing Task 2

Make sure that the IELTS preparation materials teach you what kind of essay – opinion, explanation, or discussion – is required to answer the IELTS question properly. Writing the wrong kind of essay, no matter how well, could cost you as much as a whole band point.

Check that the formats for all three essay types are presented in full, with the names and functions of each of the sentence types precisely described. Following the expected format is key to writing a good essay.

Look to see that the preparation materials include ample exercises. Most students need practice to learn how to write the different kinds of sentences – from hooks to thesis statements to supporting sentences – that work together to make a successful essay. Make sure that the course you take includes plenty
of exercises so you can get the practice you need.


The Speaking task has three distinct parts. Make sure the nature and function of all three is clearly explained.

Check to see that there is clear explanation of the “Long Turn,” the central section in which you must speak by yourself without any help from the examiner. There should be clear directions about how to give your answer to that critically important question shape and form.

Look to see that the preparation material gives you concrete tips on how to turn question-answering into real communication and natural conversation.

Make sure that there are explanations of more than just proper verbal language. Good, appropriate body language
can be almost as important in this task, which is the only one that puts candidates face-to-face with the examiner.

Svend Nelson is a university lecturer and internet entrepreneur. He is director of UniRoute Limited, a Hong Kong based company with offices in Bangkok and London providing IELTS online preparation, a study abroad program and other web-based courses for online university preparation. Svend lived and worked in various countries across Latin America, Europe and Asia before settling in Thailand.

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How to Select the Best Coaching Center For IELTS Exam Training?

How to Select the Best Coaching Center For IELTS Exam Training?

With IELTS exam becoming popular all over the world as a recognized authority for English language testing, coaching centers started mushrooming all around the globe. These coaching centers claim high success rates through advertisements to lure potential candidates. But there are no central agencies to control the growth and maintain quality of these IELTS coaching centers. Many coaching centers ask hefty fees from the students for unplanned and substandard coaching; others spend time in teaching unscrupulous ways to candidates appearing for IELTS exam . The recent incidents of candidates caught in impersonation at Chandigarh, India is an example for these increasing coaching center centric crimes for getting high IELTS scores.

Competitiveness among IELTS coaching centers has increased multifold and success rates in IELTS exam is one of the main criteria for attracting students. On the flip side students got more choices for selecting a good coaching center. Here is a list of main points to identify and select the best coaching center near your place. This will help you in starting you’re coaching in a good institution and come out in IELTS exam with flying colors.

1) An institution with training for multiple related exams. A institution which conducts training for TOEFL, GMAT, GRE etc. has an upper hand in giving candidates a good training for IELTS exam . IELTS exam is similar to TOEFL and related to GMAT and GRE. The only difference is that IELTS exam focuses on communicative English and does not cover aptitude testing. So you have chances for getting good and trained faculty for IELTS coaching.

2) Quality of Students studying in the institution. If the students who join for coaching are working professionals in multinational companies or from famous universities, then its an added advantage. They will communicate mostly English. It will help you in improving your English standard and give you a chance to interact with them very frequently and correct your English grammar.

3) Good Study materials. Ensure that coaching center gives the students lot of home works and assignments. If the institution sells study materials to students enrolled in distant education, then you have more chances of getting good quality study material, which is more important for a student preparing for IELTS exam .

4) Duration of coaching classes: The minimum time for a coaching class should be 2 hours of effective training. Any thing less than that will compromise the quality of training.

5) Teaching by foreign born English speaking staff: This will accelerate your quality of English. You can learn and understand their accent and pronunciation. They will teach to use simple English in speaking, listening and writing. So select a coaching center frequently visited by English speaking foreigners.

6) Strength of a class and type of pedagogy: The strength of the class matters most. The attention given to each student decreases with increased student strength in a class. You can verify it with a ratio of number of students with teaching staff. The best ratio is one teacher for every 6 students. Ensure that you are counting only the teachers or tutors and not the administrative staff. The type of pedagogy can be found by the overview of the course and through discussion with the students studying in the respective coaching center.

So next time, before enrolling into a coaching center for IELTS exam preparation, Spend some time in research and about the coaching center you planned to join. Wish you all the success.


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