How to prepare for the IELTS

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IELTS. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Don’t even sweat it, I know you’ll pass with the required scores. By now you should have already decided which type of IELTS you’ll be sitting for. If you will be sitting for it for the very first time, I would suggest the academic version of ‘IELTS for UKVI’.

For more information regarding the different types of IELTS and further explanation, please check out English Language Proficiency for PLAB, GMC Registration and TIER 2 visa. Now all that is left to do is to plan when to take it, so check here at how to plan for PLAB 1 & IELTS.

How do I start?

First and foremost you must ascertain your own abilities.

  • How fluent do you think you are?
  • Do you feel like you can complete your preparation within a month’s time, or do you think you may need longer?

Don’t think you have to finish and sit for the exam quickly- it’s not a race. I’ll outline below the materials I used to approach the IELTS, and I hope you’ll find them useful for your IELTS preparation for PLAB.

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Which materials to use?

I took most of my information and guidelines from the Cambridge test series. I did books 10, 11, and 12. You can do as many or as few as you deem necessary. You can find the Cambridge Books here, go through the questions, explanations, reading passages, and listening tapes.

The password for the archives is: roadtouk

To get all the materials for IELTS & PLAB 1 e-mailed to you, please fill this form.

I also used the video series by IELTS Liz that I found on YouTube. Her suggestions and methodologies were really helpful in my construction of a solid foundation for the exam. She has videos on speaking, writing, listening, using idioms, sentence structure, grammar, etc. I would definitely suggest checking her channel out. Also keep an eye out here for Recent IELTS exam questions and topics. Many have found the speaking topic to be repeated from this forum’s recent discussion.

Movies & TV shows helped in my listening & speaking

Another thing I did was watch English movies and TV shows. Why are you giving me a skeptical look? I’m serious. It may seem like a time waster, but considering you have to be able to clearly understand what a variety of accents are saying (my exam had American, British, and Australian) in the listening portion, and of course in the speaking portion, it doesn’t hurt to put away an hour or so of your time towards effectively watching a TV show. Plus you get a bit of a break too.

I watched mainly British TV shows like ‘Keeping Up Appearances’, ‘Utopia’, and ‘Are You Being Served’ because I felt they had a good cast selection regarding different accents, and of course American shows like ‘Friends’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ (choose whatever works for you, don’t think you have to watch these specific shows). Try not to watch these shows with subtitles, because they can become a crutch. Instead attempt to hear and understand what is being said. Don’t get too addicted though, there will be time to binge watch after your exam!

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I preferred sticking to ONE method for writing. No pick and choose!

I know many of us are scared the most about the writing section. What I did was looked at as many sample essays I could, and watched video lectures by both Simon and Ryan, and I’d have practice sessions where I would basically bug my friends to look over what I had written for any grammatical errors, problems with syntax, etc. There are also a number of sites that provide mock tests that you can attempt as well (www.ipassielts.com and www.ielts-exam.net).

A lot of materials for writing are available in the following links:

Barron’s Writing for the IELTS
Task 1 writing Lectures and books
Task 2 writing Lectures and books
Other materials

Reading Materials: Check this folder.
Speaking Materials: Check this folder.

A few days before your IELTS exam (if booked under the British Council), you will be sent an email that will give you access to a sort of crash course for IELTS prep that is called the ‘Road to IELTS’. In it, you will find practice sessions, mock tests, and timed sections. These can be used for only a certain amount of time before the exam (I believe it was 48-72 hours).


What do I bring with me on the exam day?

Bring your A-game. Look into the mirror before you head out and tell yourself that this is your day. You’ve got this. You will own. Then, before anyone hears or sees you, leave with your passport and printed out booking confirmation for IELTS. Depending on your center, they may ask you to not bring anything else. I took my exam at the FutureEd center in Banani, Dhaka, and they stipulated that we would not need to bring pencils, sharpeners, or erasers, as they would provide them. Always be sure to ask (call or email) ahead of time, there is no harm in doing so.

What can I expect?

Dress comfortably, get there early, and don’t drink too much caffeine. You are allowed bathroom breaks, but the time keeps running in your absence. Be mindful of that, especially since you are not allowed to wear a watch, and you must rely on the huge timer they’ve placed in the exam hall. There are also proctors who will be walking around the entire time, and will check your identity at least twice (you’ll have your confirmation of booking and passport handy). Cameras are also visible in the front and back of the exam hall to ensure no cheating occurs.

Your reading, listening, and writing may be before or after your speaking exam. I would suggest coming to your speaking exam in at least a semi-professional attire i.e. guys, tuck in your shirts, polish your shoes. girls, you know how to dress; it’s the boys that are usually at a loss.

The password for the archives is: roadtouk
To get into the mailing list for IELTS & PLAB 1 materials, please fill this form.

Before the exam starts, you will be taken into a room where they will check your papers. Then, they will take your photo there (glasses must be removed, if you wear a hijab, they will ask that you loosen it to the point that your ears are visible), and they will also scan your fingerprints (biometric data). After all of this is done to the candidates, you’ll be herded into a room that will have desks labeled with your name and number. Find your spot, take your seat, and listen to the proctors for further instructions. Lastly, don’t worry about a thing. You’ve studied, you’ve prepared, now show the IELTS what you’ve got.


IELTS InFocus

Want all the information about IELTS condensed and explained? Need tips to know just how to approach each section in the exam and what you can expect exam day?

Summary

To summarize on how to prepare for the IELTS:

  1. Identify your capabilities and limits

    If you are not confident enough, then plan for more time and gather more resources to prepare. It may involve getting into any local course/academies, or getting individualized help from someone.

  2. Take preparation for modules separately

    Start with the module you think you are less confident about. In my case, it was writing.

  3. Take breaks

    Intense preparation demands proper break. Tiring your brain is not a good idea at all. This breaks you can utilize watching movies, TV shows, reading reputed online articles etc.

  4. Test yourself

    Gather the self-test materials and see how you do and identify what’s pulling you down.

  5. Don’t lose hope

    If you can’t obtain the required score in one go, don’t lose hope. It happens to a lot of people and that’s how we progress.


If you’ve still any confusion regarding the IELTS and its usage for GMC registration and more, do check out our interactive session on the topic.

Good luck!

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Two international medical graduates who work as Internal Medicine Trainees in the UK write this blog with the aim to guide others around the world.

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