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IELTS last Minute Tips & Advice for the Exam Day

Updated on 27 February, 2024

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Aspirants take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam for study, migration, or work purposes. The test is conducted and managed by IDP in India. The exam evaluates English language proficiency among non-native English speakers based on writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. The IELTS band score is an important eligibility criterion set by top-ranked universities in English-speaking countries. To do well, you must prepare thoroughly for all four sections of the language test. Here are some IELTS last-minute tips for you that you must keep in mind before taking the test:

IELTS Last Minute Tips

Below are some of the IELTS exam last-minute tips. These tips will guide you both before and during the test:

  1. Check the date and time of the test: It is imperative to double-check the date and time of the test. On the day of the exam, be prepared to reach the venue before time and keep some extra time in your hand as you might not be allowed to take the test if you arrive late. 
  2. Carry ID proof: Identification proof is a must to have. You need to carry identification proof such as the same passport or national identity card that you had used while registering for the examination. 
  3. Arrive early: You should make sure that you know the location and the time required to travel from their home to the test center. Don’t be late on the examination day or else you will not be allowed inside. Try to reach the center at least one hour before the examination time. 
  4. Stay hydrated: Water is available at the test center. You are not allowed to carry dark bottles, but transparent ones work. It is important to stay hydrated during long hours of examination. 
  5. Sleep and eat well: It takes roughly 2 hours 40 minutes to attempt all four sections: writing, speaking, reading, and listening. There will not be any breaks between the different test sections. Make sure that you eat and rest well before the examination so that you can attempt the questions without falling sick or sleepy. 
  6. Wear comfortable clothes: Try to keep your clothing simple and comfortable. Wear something that is presentable and makes you feel confident. 
  7. Don’t carry mobile phones: Phones or electronic gadgets are not allowed inside the examination hall. Under no circumstances, mobile phones will be allowed. Applicants need to leave their mobile phones, laptops, or any other electronic gadget out. You need to leave all your personal belongings outside the examination hall in a locker. 
  8. Don’t worry about pen, pencil, and eraser: Do not carry any paper inside the examination hall. You will also be offered a pen, pencil, and eraser in the examination center. While attempting the speaking test, one just needs to carry the ID proof and nothing else. No pencil box or pouch is allowed in the examination hall. 
  9. Do not carry a personal watch: There will be a clock in the examination hall as personal watches are not allowed inside.
  10. Use the washroom before the test starts: Even though the applicants are allowed to use the washrooms during the reading and writing sections, it is better to save time and use the washroom before the test starts. 
  11. Stay focused: Make sure you attempt the examination after carefully understanding the format and syllabus. Stay focused and calm throughout the examination.

Important Resources to Read About IELTS:

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Average IELTS ScoresIELTS Score for USAStudy in USA Without IELTS
Study in UK Without IELTSIELTS Reading Band ScoreIELTS Bar Graph
Writing Task 1 Line GraphCollocation for IELTSIELTS Reading Tips

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Tips to Follow During IELTS Examination: Section-Wise Tips

Writing Section Tips

  • The writing section will have two tasks. Do not spend more than 20 minutes on task 1. For task 2, you will need a minimum of 40 minutes. 
  • Wrap up task 1 in about 150 words and task 2 in 250 words. Do not waste time by writing more than required.  
  • Task 1 requires you to analyze the data given to you in the form of graphs, charts, or tables and summarize it in your own words.
  • Task 2 of the writing section of IELTS requires you to write an essay against an argument/point of view/issue. 
  • Do not waste time by counting words. Keep track of the number of sentences. Find out the approximate number of words in a sentence and count the sentences to have an idea about the word count. 
  • Spend a decent amount of time writing an impactful introduction and conclusion. Conclusions are extremely important, so don’t miss on them under any circumstance.
  • Writing should be clear, coherent, inherit an academic tone, and of high quality. 
  • Vocabulary and grammar need to be top-notch. Make sure the writing structure, style, and tone are in sync with the question. 
  • Use small and crisp sentences in the writing tasks. Organize the write-up in small paragraphs to increase readability. 

Reading Section Tips

  • Practice the habit of reading before the test so that you can read quickly during the test.
  • Read each question properly before you answer them or mark possible answers while reading them.
  • Ensure that you use the correct spelling as mentioned in the passage.
  • Don’t get stuck on one question. Move to another one without wasting time. 
  • Time management is important when attempting the reading section. 
  • Don’t use any rough sheet for writing answers. Directly write it down on your answer sheet without wasting time. 
  • Applicants will not have time to read and understand the whole write-up. Skim through the entire paragraph and scan the relevant information and details.

More Resources to Read About IELTS:

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Speaking Section Tips

  • Practice speaking English very well before taking the test. Speak about general topics and previous experiences. 
  • It will be a formal interview. Be open, formal, and confident. Share your ideas and opinions and be expressive. 
  • While listening to the questions, draft your answers in mind and answer them immediately. Do not waste time. However, if it takes time to process questions, pause to think for some time. 
  • Pronunciation is the key. Don’t worry about your accent and use words that you are confident about. Don’t pronounce words wrong. Use small and simple words. 
  • Keep sharing and talking about all that you know until the examiner comes up with a new question for you. Share as many details and information as you can. This speaks about the depth of knowledge. 
  • Vocabulary is important. It carries 25% of the total marks in speaking. 
  • Grammar is important while speaking. Use the right tense when you communicate. 
  • Avoid using fillers such as yeah, you know, well, etc.
  • A mix of American and British accents is good. However, it is fine even if you use one of them.
  • The examiner will interrupt in between. Don’t worry, it is common during the examination. 
  • Applicants get a pen and paper to plan for task 2. It is okay to plan, write and refer to notes while speaking. The examiner will focus on the speaking skills and not the plan or notes. 

Listening Section Tips

  • Make sure the headphones are working before the exam starts. If any issue comes up, raise your hands without wasting time. 
  • Read the questions before listening to the passages. This will help in finding the answers while listening to the audio clip. 
  • Focus on answering the questions quickly, without involving yourself in too many details.
  • Stick to the prescribed word limit.  
  • Use 10 minutes after listening to the audio clip to write down the answers. Take care of the grammar and spelling errors.

IELTS Test Tips: One Week Before Exam

If there is just a week left for your IELTS exam and you have a lot to prepare, don’t panic. You can still score a band 6 or 7 if you use your time wisely and efficiently. Here are some last-minute preparations for IELTS that you need to follow if you have just a week’s time in hand. 

Day 1  - Familiarize yourself with the structure

Before appearing for IELTS, it is imperative to get yourself acquainted with all about the examination. Since there is a time crunch, you need to superficially get oriented with the exam format and its sections. While it will fetch you a clear picture of IELTS, it will also give you an idea of all things you need to study about in the next six days. Here are a few things you need to understand to get an overview of IELTS.

  1. IELTS Exam Format
  2. Overview of the Reading section
  3. Overview of the Listening section
  4. Overview of the Speaking section
  5. Overview of the Writing section
  6. IELTS scoring system

Day 2 - Last-minute tips for IELTS Reading

While preparing for the reading section of IELTS, you will come across a lot of reading passages and you will be asked questions based on that. If you read every word of a passage, you won’t be able to complete the test within time. The trick is not to take too much time and significantly utilize key reading strategies. That’s when the art of skimming and scanning comes into play. If you gather this art while practicing your reading tests, make sure to use this method as it would help you to boost your score by saving some time for other questions.

Day 3 - Last-minute tips for IELTS Listening

For the Listening section of IELTS, it is of paramount importance to orient yourself to English audios. You will easily be able to access English radio programs, news programs, or podcasts from BBC and that would prepare you with the accents and tone. Learning the accent and tone would help you to grasp lines that are played during the test and quickly identify them. Most importantly, you won’t feel lost. You can also take up specific Listening sample tests for practice and try to keep up with the recording. Even if you miss one question, don’t get stuck on it, rather move on or you’ll lose the other questions as well. 

Day 4- Last-minute tips for IELTS Writing

The Writing Section of IELTS includes two sections – description of a diagram/chart and writing an essay in response to a point of view or problem presented to you. In order to ace this section, the best last-minute tip for IELTS writing is to take on as many practice papers as you can. Try to simulate the actual test conditions as much as you can while writing. You can also choose a quiet spot while taking the test so that you can concentrate, keep aside 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours and work on the writing tasks uninterrupted, write your responses instead of typing them to increase your speed, and set strict deadlines for the writing questions. Evaluate yourself once you are done writing the two tasks and ask yourself if you are able to complete the tasks in the set time or if you fell short of or exceed the minimum word count. 

Day 5- Last-minute tips for IELTS Speaking

Just like the writing section, simulating the IELTS speaking condition will improve your performance on the day of the test. You can also get someone who is fluent in English to listen to you when you will be speaking. This would prepare for the day of the examination when you will have to speak in front of the examiner.  Here are a few steps you can follow to make the preparation as realistic as possible:

  • Pick up a topic of relevance
  • Set a timer and do not take more than one minute to think about the response
  • Set another timer and start speaking for one to two minutes 
  • Record your speech for self-evaluation

Day 6 - Taking mock test

Having spent one day each on every section, it is now time to test yourself with a full-length mock test. Take an IELTS mock test for free and evaluate how you fare in it. This would be a great chance for you to assess your weaknesses and strengths and improve accordingly. Set aside around 3 hours of uninterrupted time while taking a mock test and be strict about it. The IELTS time duration for each of the sections is as follows:

  • 60 minutes for Writing Section
  • 60 minutes for Reading Section
  • 30 minutes for Listening Section 
  • 14 minutes for Speaking Section

After having finished the mock test, don’t evaluate it right away. 

Day 7 - And you are done

Do not keep the last day cramming in anything new. Take out your mock test from the last day and evaluate it. Analyze ways to fix your mistakes and see where you went wrong. That’s about it for the day.

More Resources to Read About IELTS:

IELTS Speaking TopicsIELTS Writing Task 2Opinion Essay IELTS
Important Vocabulary for IELTSIELTS Band ScoreValidity of IELTS Score
IELTS Reading SectionIELTS Essay Writing SamplesEssay on Historical Places
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Things to Avoid During IELTS Exam

As the IELTS test day gets closer, you may struggle to understand what things to do and what to avoid. As we have already understood about the doable, listed below are a few recommendations that you should avoid on the day of the test. 

  • Don’t be in a hurry to answer the questions
    It is better for you to take a second or two to think about what you want to say before speaking. This would help you in quickly organizing your thoughts and giving a more thorough answer. If you rush to answer, you may come up with an answer that is disorganized and hard to follow. However, don’t take too much time to prepare an answer that you think is just right. For Part 2 of the speaking test, it is better to prepare a few notes on the paper you're given. For the listening test, before the recording starts, quickly read the questions and focus on listening for answers to those questions.
  • If you don’t understand a question, don’t answer it
    During the IELTS examination, there might be a few questions you do not understand. If that happens during the IELTS Speaking test, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question or explain it to you. Though it is fine to ask for some explanation or clarification, you should avoid asking it over and over again during the exam. 
  • Do not refrain from correcting yourself
    Don’t be afraid to correct yourself in the IELTS Speaking test if you realize that you made a mistake. This would make the examiner understand that you know you made an error and that you're able to correct it.
  • Try not to memorize answers
    It is not at all recommended to memorize answers because having a scripted answer prepared ahead of time is not helpful as the examiner will be able to tell that your answer is scripted, and this will affect your score.
  • Avoid the use of complicated words
    Some candidates think that using “big” words during the writing and reading test is a good strategy. It is important that the words should be used properly and sound natural. You may use some words incorrectly if you don’t completely understand them and this could have an effect on your speaking and writing scores.
  • If you are unsure about the grammar, don’t use it
    Do not use grammar that you’re not completely comfortable with. Make sure that you use different elements of grammar properly such as verb tenses, transitions, connectors, etc. It is better to be safe than sorry so don’t use anything you're unsure about.
  • Don’t keep quiet 
    Make sure you speak during the speaking test and write during the writing test. Your examiner expects you to talk and write in order to evaluate your language skills. Being silent during the speaking test or leaving blank spaces instead of writing will leave a negative impression on the examiner. This is also applicable for the reading and listening tests and answers left blank will be marked as incorrect. 
  • Don’t forget to get to the main point
    When answering questions for your writing and speaking exam, do not forget to get to the main point. It is better to avoid repeating or rephrasing the question. Don’t talk around the question or add unnecessary details, and then get to the point. This is a waste of valuable time and could affect your score.
  • Don’t be nervous
    While appearing for your IELTS test, it is important to not let your nerves get the better of you. Though it is natural to feel nervous, to keep your nerves under control during the test day, try some breathing exercises, give yourself some quiet time, eat well before your test, and have a good night’s sleep.

The IELTS last minute tips for the exam day are an important resource to ensure you do not face exam nervousness. These tips will help you become ready to give the exam confidently and not miss out on minute details.

Recommended Reads:

IELTS Writing Task 1 AcademicIELTS Last Minute TipsIELTS Academic Reading
IELTS Speaking Test formatHow IELTS Exam is ConductedIndian Education System Essay
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1IELTS Academic ExamIELTS General Writing Tips Task 2
MBA in Germany Without IELTSHow to Improve IELTS Score from 6.5 to 7IELTS Speaking Tips

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I crack the IELTS in one day?

It is not possible to crack the IELTS exam by studying for only one day. However, if you have already done some preparations beforehand and want to do some revisions, you can take a sample test and ask someone else to assess your skills so as to get unbiased feedback.

What should I do one day before IELTS?

The day before the exam, you should focus on ensuring that you check the date and time of the examination venue, know about the transport route and read the terms and conditions carefully. Besides, if you feel like it, you can take a sample test to get a last-minute revision before the test.

How can I prepare for the IELTS at the last-minute?

The last-minute preparation for IELTS requires you to relax and not think much about the examination and take a deep breath before entering the exam hall. To improve your speaking skills, you can talk to people of different nationalities in English before the exam.

What is the most difficult part of the IELTS exam?

As per the several surveys on IELTS modules, students report that the writing section is the most difficult amongst the four. However, a realistic plan and consistent practice can help you gain a good score in the IELTS writing section.

How can I get 7 bands in IELTS?

To score seven (7) bands or higher, you should read the structure of the test, finalize your learning strategy, aim higher but do not forget to set your goals, practice every day, read and talk in English every day, listen to podcasts and watch TV shows, play video games in which you need to talk to team members in English, answer exactly what is required and filter out irrelevant noise.

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Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Mrinal Mandal is a study abroad expert with a passion for guiding students towards their international education goals. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, earned in 2018. Since 2021, Mrinal has been working with upGrad Abroad, where he assists aspiring students in realizing their dreams of studying abroad. With his expertise and dedication, he empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of international education, making their aspirations a reality.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.