IELTS Exam Tips 2021: Most Important IELTS Tips & Advice For Exam Day

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It is of paramount importance that you prepare for your IELTS exam with a strategized approach. Indeed, studying for the exam is a job only half done, as clearing the exam is the other half of the hurdle. Every exam needs a different approach and understanding it is the key to faring well.

This guide will provide the most important tips for the IELTS exam to bolster your chances to clear the exam with flying colours. Without any further ado, let’s delve in!

List of Things to Carry for IELTS Exam Day

Before helping you out with tips to crack IELTS, it is necessary to familiarise yourself with the list of things you can carry to the test centre and things you cannot.These are:

  • You need to mandatorily carry your identification proof, either your national ID card or passport, whichever you used during IELTS registration.
  • The same proof will be required for the Speaking test as well. The test centre staff will first check the identification, and later, IELTS Speaking examiners will check the same again.
  • Candidates need not bring any passport photos on the day of examination as the IELTS test centre takes your photo during registration.
  • For paper-based IELTS tests, you are allowed to bring pens, pencils, and erases. However, for computer-based IELTS exams, the centre will provide you with any required pencil and paper.
  • Test-takers can bring their mobile phones; which, however, they need to switch them off and place them with their other belongings in a specified area assigned by the examiner.
  • Carrying any valuable items to the test centre is not recommended. Electronic items are not permissible inside the test centre.
  • You can only keep a transparent water bottle along with necessary stationery items while you take the exam.
  • Children or family members of exam-takers are not allowed inside the test venue. If any family member wishes to wait for a candidate, he/she needs to be outside the centre.

IELTS Exam Day Tips

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IELTS Exam Tips 2021: Most Important IELTS Tips & Advice For Exam Day

Now that you know what you can and cannot carry to your IELTS exam centre, prepare yourself by keeping your eyes on the prize. Here are some tips for the exam day to keep you calm and focused.

Arrive early: It is recommended that you arrive early. Therefore, you need to know the exact location, and you cannot afford to be late. The examiner will not let you in the test venue if you arrive later than your designated time. You need to have plenty of time to check in and settle down for the exam.

Clothing: Test-takers should wear comfortable clothing which makes them feel confident. This will also help them avoid further distractions or uncomfortable moments during the exam, which can lower the focus and result in time wastage.Moreover, the test room aircon can be turned on, and some candidates may feel cold. It is advisable to carry an extra layer of clothing for such a situation.

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IELTS Exam Tips 2021: Most Important IELTS Tips & Advice For Exam Day

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Toilet: Listening, reading and writing sections take a total of 2 hours 40 minutes without any breaks in between. Keeping yourself well hydrated is a good ploy to avoid wasting any time. You can, of course, raise your hand up in case you need to visit the washroom, but it can result in losing valuable minutes.

Eat and sleep well: No food items are allowed inside the exam hall. Moreover, with no breaks in between, it is essential that you are well-rested and have a full meal to ensure that you do not lose concentration.

Drinks: Candidates are allowed to carry drinks inside the exam hall only if it is in a transparent bottle.

Pen, pencils and eraser: It is suggested that you take at least two pens and a pencil, in case one stops working. You can also carry an eraser. Dictionaries or paper is not allowed inside the test centre. For your Speaking test, you can only carry your ID card to the test room.

No phones: Students can bring their mobile phones to the test centre, but however cannot sit for the exam with them. They need to submit their phones with other electronic items (if any) in an area arranged by the examiner.

ID: You need to carry the same ID you provided in the test centre during your IELTS registration. If you forget to take your ID card, you will not be allowed to sit for the exam on the day and will not be eligible for a refund or transfer.

Pay attention to instructions: Listen closely to any instruction that you receive from your invigilator and act accordingly. If you cannot hear, make sure you raise your hand and let him/her know, and will assist you as required.

Clock: You are not allowed to carry a watch inside the test room. A clock is provided, and keeping track of time is essential. Some papers will come with a suggested time limit to help you through.

Relax: If you are feeling nervous, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down. Then, you need to focus on the questions with a clear mind. Do not rush with the answers. You can clear any query during your exam by asking the test room staff.

Careful: Once you get the test paper, read the cover page carefully before writing anything. You may lose marks if you make careless mistakes by not reading the question properly. Give the necessary time to every question without hastening through.

Disabilities: In case you have any disability or difficulty which you may face on the exam day, you just need to inform the test centre at least 6-weeks beforehand. They will make the necessary arrangements possible.

Exam Day IELTS Tips for Listening Test

Now that you are aware of how to prepare for the IELTS exam day, here are some personalised tips for scoring well in the different modules. The listening section can help you streamline your strategy.

  • Ensure that your earphones are working properly. If you notice any functional issues, let the exam centre staff know immediately.
  • In case you are not using headphones, check if you can hear the recording clearly. You should raise your hand and tell the centre staff your issue to let them assist you.
  • Prepare the questions in the allotted time. It is essential to read through all the questions before the recording starts. For maximum efficiency, you can practice this at home.
  • Candidates need to focus on the whole question and not just keywords. Keywords only indicate the context of the question and not the answer. Focusing on keywords can land you in trouble if there are two or more questions with the same keyword.
  • Only write down the necessary information. If you are writing down everything, you may miss out on some important information.

Exam Day IELTS Tips for Reading Test

Some IELTS tips and tricks for the reading test are mentioned below:

  • Go through the instructions carefully and figure out how many words you are going to need for the answer.
  • It is recommended to not waste time on one answer. If you are unable to answer one question, moving on to the next one helps you avoid losing valuable time.
  • The importance of keeping a tab on time is also paramount.
  • Write your answers directly on the answer sheet. There is not enough time of transferring the answers later.
  • Do not divide the number of questions by the time you get. This is because you will need more time for the first few answers to figure out how the text is organised. Not wasting any time on a question is the key.
  • You can either first read the questions and then the paragraph or the other way around. Practising both approaches before fixating on one is ideal as it will vary with every individual.
  • Ensure that you do not end up paraphrasing.
  • Remember that it is not necessary for you to understand the passage but to find the answers. Read accordingly.
  • It is recommended that you use capital letters for all your answers to mitigate any chances of confusion.

Exam Day Tips for IELTS Speaking Test

You can find some more exam day tips to crack the IELTS speaking test below.

  • Regularly practise speaking English before you sit for the IELTS exam. Familiarise yourself with expressing your opinions on various topics.
  • Remember to be confident and open to chatting. This is not your job interview. You need to be open and friendly.
  • It is essential to listen to the questions carefully. Do not beat around the bush and get to the answers directly. This is applicable for Part 1 and Part 3 of the speaking test.
  • Do not shy away from adding information to your answers. However, it is wise to remember the time limit, and you should not lose your focus in the process.
  • Vocabulary should not be the only focus. It carries only 25% of the marks. Using a range of grammar tenses is also as important. This conveys your command of the language.
  • Any accent is acceptable, as long as the words you use are easy to comprehend.
  • If you are unsure, you can ask your examiner to repeat the question he/she just asked.
  • It is recommended that you do not learn your answers by heart and be ready to improvise if the need arises.
  • For Part 2, the examiner will provide a pen and paper to prepare your talk. You can always take a look at your cue card and information while you are talking. However, it is also important that you make eye contact with your examiner.

Exam Day Tips for IELTS Writing Test

This section will talk about some IELTS tips for the speaking module.

  • Allocate as much time as possible to plan out the answers. Once you are aware of what you want to say, you can write precisely without losing any time. Take 1 or 2 minutes to organise your approach before starting to write.
  • It is advisable that you do not spend more than 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. Keep your eye on the clock to ensure you do not miscalculate time.
  • Do not spend time counting every word.  Count by the number of lines you have written and estimate your word count accordingly.
  • For Academic Task 1, it is recommended to write a clear overview. While for General Training, ensure covering all the points mentioned to include in your letter.
  • Do not repeat information, words or phrases. It is a fatal error. Leave some time to re-read your answers to ensure the same.
  • Never miss out on the conclusion for Task 2.
  • You can either write in British English or American English.
  • Only include relevant information. Writing more is not always better.
  • In case you run out of paper, you can raise your hand to get more.

IELTS Tips and Tricks One Week Before the Exam

If your IELTS exam is just a week away, here are a few ways to shoot your chances to crack IELTS.

  • Take practice tests: There are several practice test papers on the IELTS official website. Complete at least two full IELTS practise tests before sitting for the actual examination.
  • Review common topics of all four sections from several websites, including IELTS. There are several sample test questions also published on the official IELTS website. You can look through those to form an idea of the common questions.
  • You can also book two tests if you deem it necessary. In that case, you can use the first test as a first-hand experience to fare better in the next one.

The Don’ts on the IELTS Exam Day

With all the information on what to do on the exam day, here is a list of don’ts.

  1. Do not cheat or copy the work of your fellow test-takers.
  2. Disrupting the test is not acceptable.
  3. You cannot lend or borrow any time from any other candidate during the exam.
  4. Mobile phones, dictionaries, spell-checkers, electronic recorders or any other electronic gadget are not allowed.
  5. Your invigilator cannot help you with answers to any of the questions.
  6. You are not allowed to talk or disturb other candidates once the exam has commenced.
  7. Candidates cannot eat or smoke in the exam room.
  8. Reproducing any part of the test is strictly prohibited. Test results will be held, and you can be liable to prosecution in such cases.
  9. You are not allowed to take any material from the exam room, including test papers, working papers or answer sheets or other test materials provided by your IELTS centre.
  10. Candidates need to take permission from their supervisor to leave the exam room.

Keeping the above IELTS tips in mind, it is also essential that you maintain your calm and your proficiency at delivering maximum efficiency. This will, of course, come with practice. You can also seek guidance from experts at Leap Scholar who can help you with approaches and tricks to time management. By doing this, you can remain a step ahead of the rest to score flying marks in your IELTS exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When can I take IELTS?

Ans: IELTS is available on 48 fixed dates in a year. It can go up to four times a month on Thursdays and Saturdays, depending on demand.

2. Which part of the test do I take first?

Ans: You will first sit for the Listening part of the test. Then, the Reading and Writing tests will follow, respectively. The Speaking test may be held up to seven days before or after the test date.

3. When can I sit for a re-test?

Ans: There is no specified limit before retaking a test. However, it is advisable that you do additional preparations before sitting for the test again.


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Manisha Angre

Experienced IELTS prep trainer and education management industry veteran. Specializes in public speaking, international education, market research, mentoring, and management.

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