I have been planning on taking an IELTS since long ago. As I dream of an international career, there’s no way I can escape certifying my English. Recently I graduated with my master’s in law and I am currently applying to a considerable amount of international internships. For that reason, it was about time to take the test.
In this post, I am going to share with you the materials I have used to prepare for my test. Be aware that I didn’t get the results yet, so I am not even sure if I did it right. If I get a good score, I will write a secound post telling you how did I use these materials to prepare. In any case, the goal of this post is mainly to make a list of resources you may use to prepare and not to give you preparation advice.
But first things first: what is an IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration.
This test is owned by both IDP and British Council. That means you may register to take it in any of these organizations and it does not make any difference whatsoever.
There are two types of IELTS. The test you choose should be based on what it is you want to do:
IELTS Academic – measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment. It reflects aspects of academic language and evaluates whether you’re ready to begin training or studying.
IELTS General Training – measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and tests reflect both workplace and social situations.
Unlike Cambridge exams, which have a different test to certify different levels, IELTS is a multilevel test. That means it can be used to certify a wide variety of levels. According to your performance during the test, you may have a score from 1 to 9.
In any case, you better reach a score higher than 5, otherwise, it’s almost useless to take it.
How is the test organized? How long does it take?
The exam is divided into 4 parts.
- Listening – takes about 30 minutes
- Reading – 60 minutes
- Writing – 60 minutes
- Speaking – 11 to 14 minutes.
In my case, I took the academis IELTS. And here are the resources I used:
A. Special preparation course
I am a big fan of the traditional model of learning. I really enjoy going to a room with a group of people and having a teacher explaining things to me and correcting me when I am mistaken. Because of that I took a preparation course specially designed for IELTS.
The course was especially good to have feedback about my writing and speaking skills. The teacher also gave us some personalized advice to succeed on the day of the exam.
The downside of these courses is that they are really expensive (I paid more than 600€ on Wall Street English). But I think it’s worth the money in case you’re not feeling confident about your English skills.
B. The Internet
There are many free online resources that might help you succeed.
When I registered with British Council, they gave me access to some preparation materials for free. Those materials (videos, e-books, and exercises) were part of their online course “Road to IELTS“. But to have access to the full content you must pay a fee.
There are also many blogs giving you tips. My favorite was IELST LIZ. Nevertheless, be aware that basically anybody can open a blog and you should be careful about the information you read on the internet.
C. Preparation Book
I used IELTS Academic 13. It had an introduction to the IELTS at the beginning and 4 practice tests. It included downloadable audios (essential to practice the listening part).
I didn’t use this one as much as I used the material from the British Council. The reason for that is basically that I didn’t have time and I prioritized the “Road to IELTS” resources.
In any case, it’s an excellent resource for you to practise. You may set a timer, simulate an exam and check your score in the end.
There are other resources you can use, but I only used these 3. You may also search for podcasts and phone apps. It’s up to you. 😉