How to Write IELTS Exam and Pass on First Attempt

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test used to evaluate the English language skills of people who want to move to English-speaking countries like Canada and the UK for immigration purposes or study at a university or college. In Canada, we can estimate that about fifty percent of universities and colleges ask for IELTS certificate, and another fifty percent do not ask for IELTS certificate. When planning to move to Canada as a student, you can choose a university keeping in mind which learning institution asks for an IELTS certificate and which one does not. If you really like a university and one of the requirements to get admission is the IELTS certificate, do not let that stop you.

There are two types of IELTS.

IELTS General and IELTS Academic

IELTS general is mainly used for immigration purposes, while IELTS academic, as the name suggests, is used for educational purposes. For instance, if you are moving to Canada as an international student, then you will take the IELTS academic exam.

You may take the IELTS test at any of the British Council offices in your home country by booking and making payments online, then appearing on location on the test day.

On this blog, we give you a detailed guide to passing the IELTS test, possibly on the first attempt.

IELTS test format


In the listening test, you will have to listen to four different recordings from native English speakers, and as you listen, you will answer questions either on paper if taking the paper-based test or on computer if taking the computer-based test. This is the time you will need to pay attention and avoid being distracted, because if you miss a sentence, it simply means that you will most likely fail the whole section because you may not be able to catch up with the voice.


You will be given three long texts that will include analytical, factual, and descriptive parts. Answer the given questions. You will need to be very good with synonyms throughout the test. Questions are not hard but tend to be very challenging, forcing you to use your brain to the maximum.


You’ll need to complete two tasks.

Task 1

Task one requires you to explain a diagram, chart, table, or graph in at least 150 words. We will talk about this in detail in the next blog.

Task 2

You will be required to write an essay of at least 250 words in response to a viewpoint, argument, or problem. When writing your essay, make sure that you pay attention to time. You need to finish writing your essay and have time to edit it to make sure there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes.


The speaking part is normally in three parts, and you will have a one-on-one session with the interviewer. Make sure you are relaxed and focused. Ensure that you listen and respond to the question that you are asked.

Familiarize yourself with test materials.

Official IELTS Practice Material

It is very important that you take the IELTS exam practice test so you become familiar with the test. Make sure to visit the British Council website to learn how you can purchase their official IELTS practice materials and make thorough use of them.

Take a diagnostic test.

Get a quiet space in your house and take the IELTS test like you are taking the actual exam. Time yourself, and when the stopwatch rings, stop the test and go through what you have done. Did you finish the test within the time allocated? Go through your work and confirm that you did well according to your standards.  You may ask a family member or a friend to go through your work and give feedback. Make a reference with the answers given at the back of the booklet and see how many you got right. Go through the questions you got wrong and figure out why you got them wrong. Revise the whole test and take another test in the next couple of days to gauge your overall performance.

Create a study plan.

Come up with a realistic study schedule that you will use until the day you take the IELTS exam. There are people who study better at night, and there are those who feel comfortable and alert enough to study early in the morning. There are those who can study anywhere, at work, at a park, and they have no problem with noise. Plan for what works for you and make a commitment to follow the schedule faithfully. This will make you feel more comfortable on IELTS test day.

Improve listening skills.

Practice listening to people talking in different accents, for instance, an American accent, a British accent, or an Australian accent. You will be surprised at how much information you may miss just because you do not understand the accent. It takes time to listen to and understand some accents, for me, I am still in the process of understanding the American accent since every state has its own accent. If you are coming from a country where your mother tongue is spoken widely and you do not get a chance to interact with different English speakers, you will have to put in a lot of effort to get comfortable with various accents. It’s not that hard, you just need to listen and keep listening until you get used to it. You can easily do this by listening to podcasts, watching movies, listening to radio, watching YouTube videos, and more. The options are endless.

Enhance Reading Skills

To enhance your reading skills, you should start reading news papers, magazines, motivational books, the Bible, articles, and journals to expand your vocabulary and comprehension skills. Use scanning and skimming strategies to get key information quickly because time is a crucial factor during the IELTS exam.

Improve writing skills

You may start by writing about your day in short stories, then progress to writing essays on different topics. You may check which topics are trending for the IELTS exam and try to write essays on those topics. See how fast you can write on a specific topic, stay relevant, and have minimal grammar and spelling mistakes as you write. You also need to practice more often until you can pick a topic, write about it, and complete the assignment within the time frame as required by the IELTS exam regulations.

Enhance speaking skills

In my opinion, English is one of the hardest languages to learn; the language does not just make sense sometimes. I speak fluent English, but I still make grammatical mistakes quiet often. If you are a non-English speaker, do not worry; make sure you are always speaking English with native English speakers if possible otherwise, as long as you are communicating or having conversations in English, you should be just fine. If you do not have anyone to help you practice spoken English, you may get a language buddy online who will teach you English, and you teach them your language. I see many people doing that, and it works for them. Watch movies, especially children’s movies, they tend to use very simple English, watch cartoons too, and learn English in a simple, fun way.

Practice mock tests.

Take the official IELTS practice test papers and practice like you are taking the actual IELTS test. You may have a family member observe you so you feel how it is going to be when you are taking the IELTS test. Once done, check your work and figure out the areas where you need to make great improvements to succeed in your IETLS exam. IELTS is an expensive exam, you want to do it once and pass on the first attempt.

Test Day

I believe that you should stop studying at least two days before you take any test, major or small. Forget about the test, relax, go out with friends, watch a movie, and do anything else that makes you happy. The night before the test, make sure you get eight hours of sleep if possible. You will wake up relaxed, energetic, and ready for the day. Lack of sleep will make you feel tired, moody, and mess up the whole day, and if there is anything you need on the test day, it is peace of mind.

In the morning, have a good breakfast—something that will make you feel full for a long time. You do not want to be hustling through the IELTS exam and hungry at the same time. Many people get quite anxious before taking a test, so make sure you arrive at least thirty minutes before the test to reduce your stress levels. Bring enough stationery like pencils, erasers, and sharpeners since you will not be able to borrow from anyone and you may not have enough time to keep sharpening pencils.

I don’t know if there is a way to teach the exam takers how to relax, but you have to find a way to maintain your composure and concentrate throughout the IELTS test. Before beginning each part of the test, ensure that you read, understand, and follow the instructions as given. This is where you ought to be a very good time manager. During the IELTS exam, an hour normally feels like twenty minutes, so make sure you manage your time well. If you need ten minutes to finish a task, give yourself eight minutes to save a few minutes to edit your work for any possible spelling and grammatical errors.

Like in any other test, you will come across questions that you have no idea how to tackle. Skip those questions and take a look at the questions again after you have covered everything else. Take the test in a calm manner, and if anything happens and you do not get the band score that you need, stay calm, read, prepare well, and take the test again. Do not let the IELTS exam stop you from achieving your dream.  You got this!

  • Enow Bakia

    Good day ma , it’s a pleasure meeting you, please I will like to have a chart with you via email,
    Am called Enow Bakia from Cameroon.
    A teacher by proffession and I wish to travel to any of the countries you posted.

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