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If you need to pass an English language test for your visa or studies, you may ask yourself, how much time should I set aside to prepare for the IELTS language test

Those looking for an easy answer will be disappointed because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. 

Luckily, there are many ways to prepare for an English language test. We’ve compiled this useful explainer of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), one of the most commonly used English tests. 

Whether you have a year to prepare or you’re wondering how to prepare for IELTS in a week, E2 Test Prep has resources to suit your time and budget that will boost your confidence and, more importantly, your test score. 

Understand the structure of IELTS tests

Firstly, you must know that there are two types of IELTS tests, general and academic. Ensure you confirm well in advance which of these two tests you’ll be taking so you don’t waste time preparing for the wrong test. 

The IELTS test has four sections: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The general and academic tests include the same listening and speaking sections, but the reading and writing sections differ. Whether you need to prepare for the general or academic test will depend on your circumstances and your reason for taking it. 

Listening

For the listening test, you will listen to four conversations in English and answer questions about them. The conversations will include different-sized groups of people speaking in various contexts, including social, academic, and educational contexts. 

Speaking

The speaking test involves a short conversation between you and the examiner. Initially, you will be asked questions about yourself, including your hobbies and interests, home and family life, work and study. 

Then you will be given a card with a topic on which you will speak for two minutes. You will have one minute to prepare your speech. After two minutes of speaking, the examiner will ask questions about the topic. 

IELTS General Reading

The general reading section of the test involves reading several texts and answering questions about them. The texts are like those you would encounter in everyday life in an English-speaking country. Answer formats include multiple-choice, identifying information, views and claims, matching exercises and sentence completion. 

IELTS Academic Reading

The academic reading task is much like the general task; however, the texts are more academic, stemming from journals, newspapers, and the like, and geared to those wishing to enter university, academia, or seeking professional registration. 

IELTS General Writing

The general writing task has two sections, during which test takers must write two texts: a letter and an essay. 

IELTS Academic Writing

The academic writing task begins with test-takers writing a response to a chart, data, graph or diagram in their own words. You must summarise or explain the data provided. The second task is the same as the general writing task. 

How to prepare for IELTS at home with high-quality materials

When preparing for the IELTS test, it’s important you use high-quality IELTS preparation material. This will ensure you are preparing in line with the requirements of the test. 

E2 offers a range of high quality IELTS preparation packages, which you can use to study IELTS online. Depending on your budget and timeline, you can choose a bronze, silver or gold package from E2. While your success is ultimately in your hands, these packages give you the best possible chance to pass IELTS on the first go and obtain a high score.

IELTS Academic/General Bronze 

The bronze package gives you six months of access to the materials provided and contains both a mock test and many practice questions and assessments to help you understand what areas you need to work on to succeed. It also includes a one-on-one tutorial with a teacher, which will give you valuable, personalised feedback on your performance. 

IELTS Academic/General Silver

In addition to the features listed above, the silver package includes an additional tutorial with a teacher. This means you could complete the mock test and then have a one-on-one tutorial with an expert, giving you even more insight into where you have performed well or need to improve. The silver package gives you nine months of access to the materials, which is excellent for those who have begun studying well in advance. 

IELTS Academic/General Gold package

The gold package includes all the features of bronze and silver. It contains an additional one-on-one tutorial with a teacher, giving students access to over two hours of personalised feedback and training.  

If you’re not ready to commit to a package, E2 has a broad range of free IELTS exercises and materials you can use to supercharge your test preparation. 

A great place to start is with E2’s YouTube channel and podcast. These resources will help you get into the swing of test preparation. You can even go through a full free IELTS mock test on Youtube, hosted by our E2 experts, Jay and Mark. 

Taking a full mock test with E2 will help you understand where you need to improve to achieve your desired score. You can purchase a Mock test through your E2 Test Prep account. It is a real-life test simulation including a timer and a realistic grade, and you will receive personalised feedback you can use to improve your result. 

For those who like to multitask, a podcast is a handy way to prepare as you can listen in and learn while preparing dinner for the family, commuting or doing some exercise. With a new episode every week, the Everyday English podcast will help you improve your English fluency. 

Set realistic expectations

Your personal circumstances will decide how well you can prepare – but remember, everybody can find a way to approach the IELTS test as prepared as possible. E2 is committed to making it as easy as possible to achieve your English language goals, no matter your situation. 

Some of you might be asking, ‘ Can I prepare if I’m a single parent?’ or ‘Can I study for IELTS while at home with a baby?’ The answer is yes. Remember that if you have significant obligations outside of your test preparation, you may need to begin preparing earlier than someone with more free time. 

How to prepare for IELTS in a month

If you’ve found yourself pressed for time and need to prepare for IELTS in a hurry, investing in the E2 IELTS express package is a great option to help you prepare for IELTS in a month. 

The IELTS 30 day course includes live classes and recordings in case you miss one. With these resources at your disposal, you’ll become more comfortable for your coming test day. 

If you have a specific skill you would like to reinforce, there are also speaking and writing intensive packages at your disposal to focus on each skill respectively.

Check our video on preparing for IELTS in 30 days

Find ways to prepare for your test without stress

Test preparation doesn’t have to be stressful. You can do simple things to help your English skills along, even in your downtime. For instance, hop on the E2 TikTok channel. Here you can practice and learn English without the pressure.

We also have an IELTS YouTube channel with heaps of free content on how to prepare for the general and academic versions of the test.

Our final piece of advice to you

Learning English can seem a daunting experience, but you can take simple steps immediately to start your journey to English proficiency and an excellent IELTS score. Sign up to E2 Test Prep, make use of all our learning resources and tune into our podcast and Youtube channel. We assure you’ll feel closer to your English learning goals day by day. 

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