How to prepare for IELTS


The decision to study or live in Canada requires proof of your abilities in one of the country's official languages - French or English. If the chosen language is English, one way to prove your proficiency is through the IELTS test.

The International English Language Testing System is the most popular and acceptable English language proficiency test in the world for study, work and immigration processes. More than 10,000 organizations over 140 countries accept IELTS, including universities, colleges, professional registration bodies, companies and governments. The IELTS is the only internationally available English proficiency test accepted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for immigration to Canada.

The IELTS is owned by Cambridge Language Assessment, British Council and IDP Australia. It assesses the English language skills inlistening,reading,writing,speaking. The test uses a nine-band scale to identify levels of proficiency, from band 1 being for non-users to band 9 for experts. No one can fail the IELTS, since there is no minimum score for it. Each institution requiring the test will determine its minimum score.

The best way to prepare yourself for the IELTS test is to understand how it works and to practice by trying out sample tests. All that is valid as long as you have a very good understanding of the English language. Even if you feel confident about your English level, understanding and familiarizing yourself with the IELTS format is very important. This way you will know what to expect on the day of the test. Below is an overview of how it works, followed by tips on how to practice for it.

Types of IELTS

There are 2 types of IELTS available: the Academic and General Training.

The Academic test is for those applying for a higher education or professional registration and it is focused on the formal language skills required for academic purposes.

The General Training test is for those applying for secondary education, work or immigration processes and emphasizes basic language skills for social, educational and workplace situations. The IELTS General Training test is the one required by the Express Entry immigration process in Canada. Express Entry (“EE”): exige este teste.

Test Format

The test is organized into 4 groups of skillsListening, Reading, , Writingand The Speakingeach of them having different number of questions and therefore different time length.

As partes de Listeningand The Speakingare the same for both types of tests, while Academic quanto para o General Training, porém as partes de Readingand , Writingsections are different between Academic and General Training. Listening, Reading and , Writingsections for both types of tests are completed on the same day, in this exact order, with no breaks in between them.

The The Speaking section however, could be completed 7 days before, on the same day or 7 days after the 3 other sections. The total test time for all sections is 2 hours and 45 minutes.


You will listen to 4 audio recordings in native English (conversations and monologues) and answer 40 questions. The amount of time to complete this part is 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer answers to the answer sheet. Questions could be of multiple choice, matching, labelling and completion.


There will be 3 different readings to be done and 40 questions to be answered. The amount of time to complete this part is 60 minutes. Questions could be of multiple choice, identifying information, identifying the writer’s views or claims, matching, completion and short-answer questions.

For the AcademicAcademic test, it will include 3 long texts which will range from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.

No General Training, estão incluídos textos retirados de livros, revistas, jornais, anúncios e livros de instruções. Todos estes materiais são facilmente encontrados em ambientes onde fala-se inglês.

, Writing

There are 2 tasks to be completed in this section. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2. The amount of time to complete both tasks is 60 minutes. You will have to manage your own time, although it is recommended that you spend 20 minutes in Task 1 and 40 minutes in Task 2.

For the AcademicAcademic test, Task 1 will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and you will need to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event. For Task 2, you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

For the General Trainingtest, you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information about it or explaining the same. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.

The Speaking

The The Speaking consists of an interview with the examiner. The amount of time for this section is between 11 and 14 minutes.

There are 3 parts on this section. In part 1, the examiner will ask general questions about yourself and some familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. It will last between 4 and 5 minutes. Next, in part 2, you will be given a card which will provide you with a specific topic to talk about. You will have 1 minute to prepare yourself before speaking up to 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions about the same topic. Finally, in part 3, you will be asked further questions about the topic in part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This last part of the test lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

Improving your English

It is essential to achieve a higher IELTS score that your level in English language be good. Making English part of your life as much as possible can help you there. Here are some tips on how to practice it:

  • Use your English every day. Read, speak, listen and write in English as often as you can. This is a proven way to improve your English.
  • Speak English with your friends and family.
  • Listen to English language on radio, television and films. Try to listen to a variety of English accents including American, Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand.
  • Read English publications whenever possible.
  • Write letters, emails or notes in English to practise your written skills.

Practice for the test

There are many ways to study for the IELTS test. At the same time that there are several specialized schools and paid courses, there are many resources available that would allow you to study from home. From books and free sample questions to online practice tests. Some resources are offered by the British Council. Following are some of those resources:

Sample questions and tests:


  • IELTS prep
  • Word Power (Vocabulary)
  • LearnEnglish (Audio and video)


  • The Official IELTS Practice Materials
  • The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  • Insight into IELTS (Cambridge Books)
  • Top Tips for IELTS (Cambridge Books)
  • IELTS12 (Cambridge Books)
  • Barron’s IELTS

Youtube channels:

For more information about IELTS, access the links of each organisation:

By Janayna Sercheli




With highly qualified professionals and personalized service, our mission is to help our clients achieve their goal of studying, visiting, working or immigrating to Canada! With highly qualified professionals and personalized service, our mission is to help our clients achieve their goal of studying, visiting, working or immigrating to Canada!

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