Can I Prepare For the IELTS Exam Without Coaching?

Whether you need to take outside assistance for your IELTS preparation or not is a bit of complicated question. It depends greatly on your individual circumstances and level of English language capability. For example, students who live in English speaking countries like Singapore would be at a higher level of language proficiency than those students for whom English is a second or even third language. Some people might have the skills to take the exam in a week while others who are at a lower level might need a few months to prepare. Some people are naturally more inclined towards self-study while others thrive in a classroom environment. These individual factors need to be given some deep thought when deciding on whether or not to move forward with your IELTS preparation by enrolling in an IELTS preparation course. If you do decide to prepare for the IELTS exam at home, then read on to find out how you can effectively prepare for the test through self-study.

Where To Start With Your IELTS Preparation?

The first step to acing any test is to understand its format and content (syllabus). You to understand how the test is laid out and divided in terms of scoring and timings. You also need to know what kind of questions you can expect in each part of the test. (i.e the reading, listening, speaking and writing components of the test). This is all information that can easily be found on the official IELTS website. The format for the General Training and Academic Modules are slightly different, and you need to be aware of these differences as well in order to prepare sufficiently.

Assess Your Current English Language Level

Once you are familiar with the test, you need to gauge your current level, you can do this by taking an authentic practice test. Doing this will help you to identify your weak areas (the questions types in which you made the most mistakes or struggled to answer easily).  Knowing what your actual current level is will help you to set a realistic timeline to prepare for the test.

Consider Getting An IELTS Exam Study Buddy.

This will help you to be accountable and stick to your jointly made study schedule. It can also help with practising for the speaking exam, as you can easily role play examiner/candidate test situations.

Use English Everyday

Remember that during the test your English should be as natural as possible, it’s important to improve your general English language skills instead of just focusing solely on test preparation. In order to make sure that you are comfortable with the language make sure that you incorporate the English language into your everyday life. Try speaking about as much as you can in English, even if it is just talking about how your day went. As you become more confident move on to more difficult topics. Watch English television programs. This is one of the fastest ways to familiarise yourself with the accents of native speakers. You should also read for enjoyment. Find books and articles on topics that interest you. You will find that this is one of the easiest ways to come across new and uncommon vocabulary.

Authentic IELTS resources

Make sure that you always practice with official IELTS Practice tests, from trusted sources. Using practice tests from reliable sources like the Cambridge Practice Tests or the IDP and British Council websites is important because there are far too many fake free online practice materials and course, which can give an incorrect impression of your actual level of preparedness for the IELTS test. Make sure that the practice questions you use have the same structure, the same difficulty, the same marking, and the same timing as the IELTS test.

Despite all of the useful information above, I still feel that enrolling in an IELTS Preparation course is your best bet at acing the exam. The reasoning behind this is simple, only an IELTS professional teacher can guide you and offer you valuable feedback on your weak areas, especially in terms of your writing and speaking practice answers.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.