Want to move to Canada? Here’s how to prepare for success on your IELTS

Published: June 1, 2021

If you are preparing for IELTS to support your Canadian immigration or study journey, you are probably wondering what practice materials will help you get your best score on test day.

We all know the saying practice makes perfect. It is true, the more you practice, the more likely you are to achieve the score you need.

Here is the good news. IELTS has a range of official practice materials, each one designed to help increase your understanding of the test and help you improve your overall performance.

Understanding the test format

A big part of getting ready for IELTS is understanding the test format and knowing what type of questions to expect. You also need to know what our expert examiners are looking for when they mark your responses.

A common mistake we see is people lacking understanding of the test marking criteria and going in underprepared. If you understand what to expect it will help you answer questions and maybe even decrease your nerves on test day.

There are two types of IELTS you can take, IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic.

Listening and Speaking are the same however Reading and Writing differ across the two tests. The table below gives a high-level overview of the two tests. Click here for detailed information on the test format.

IELTS GeneralIELTS Academic
Listening30 minutes

Four recordings:
1. Conversation between two people
2. Monologue, for example a speech
3. Conversation between four people
4. Monologue i.e. University lecture

40 questions
30 minutes

Four recordings:
1. Conversation between two people
2. Monologue i.e. speech
3. Conversation between four people
4. Monologue i.e. University lecture

40 questions
Reading60 minutes

Three readings from books, magazines, newspapers, materials you would encounter in everyday life.

40 questions
60 minutes

Three readings from books, journals, material you might encounter studying an undergraduate or post graduate level.

40 questions
Writing 60 minutes

Two tasks:
1. Respond to a situation for example writing a letter.
2. Write an essay in response to a point of view or argument.
60 minutes

Two tasks:
1. Describe visual (graph/chart) in your own words. (150 words)
2. Respond to a point of view or argument. (250 words)
Speaking11-14 minutes

Three parts:
1. Introduction
2. Discuss a topic
3. Further discussion on topic
11-14 minutes

Three parts:
1. Introduction
2. Discuss a topic
3. Further discussion on topic

Know the test format

IELTS is scored on a 9-band scale with 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest. Understand the score

A score is given for each test section: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. These individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an overall band score.

Before you take your test check with your organisation what score you need to succeed. This will help guide your preparation and know what score you are aiming for.

Practice with free sample questions

Once you understand the format and know the score you need it’s time to practice with free official IELTS sample questions. There are a range of questions for both IELTS on paper and computer, so you can practice in the same format that you are taking the test.

Sample questions help you:

  • Understand the test format.
  • Experience the types of tasks you will take in IELTS.
  • Review your answers against model answers and check how you performed

Prepare for IELTS with free sample questions

Did you know you can take an IELTS official practice test to learn your indicative score?

Increase your confidence for test day by taking IELTS official practice test, IELTS Progress Check. It is the closest practice test to the real thing. Assessed by qualified IELTS markers, with IELTS Progress Check you will receive feedback and an indicative score within five days. This all helps you understand where you need to improve ahead of test day.

The benefits of IELTS Progress Check include:

  • Practicing under timed conditions just like it will be on test day
  • Experiencing the full test start to finish: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking
  • Receiving detailed feedback from qualified IELTS markers with indicative band scores for each section and overall
  • Being able to choose between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

Book your IELTS Progress Check today

Engage with IELTS social channels to access useful resources

IELTS' official Facebook and YouTube channels offer a range of examples and tips to help you to continue to improve your English language.

Rest up before test day

Finally, rest up! Make sure you get a good sleep the night before the test.

On test day, try and relax. You’ve got this. You understand the test format, have prepared with official practice material, and know the score you need to achieve.

Take a deep breath, focus and back yourself you are ready!

Book your IELTS test now

For test takers based in Canada

Recently, an announcement was made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) of a new pathway to permanent residency for over 90,000 essential temporary workers and international graduates who are actively contributing to Canada’s economy.

Since this announcement, demand for IELTS in Canada has increased significantly.

To meet this heightened demand, we are working closely with test centres across Canada to add more test availabilities.

We encourage all those interested in registering for IELTS to visit our website as new test dates are added regularly.

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