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12 Expert tips to improve your IELTS score

  • If you are willing to go abroad, you need to prove your proficiency in the English language. Even if you don't want to do that, many countries need that proof. The biggest test most of these countries advocate is IELTS, and it helps them to prove your proficiency in the English language. While the average IELTS band score that most job positions and institutions ask for is 6.5, the requirement varies from country to country. Different professions, courses and countries have different higher scores, and you have to prepare according to your particular needs.

    The most challenging module of IELTS is the reading module. Most of the Academic reading passages in IELTS are lengthy and are mostly based on scientific topics as well as complex vocabulary. However, with general training, the passages are easy to read and understand, but the questions are quite confusing. To overcome the hurdles that you face while answering these questions and improve your IELTS score, below are some of the tips that were analyzed by an expert IELTS mentor.

    1. Keep on reading to boost your grasping power

    If you are the type that reads different books or online materials, you must keep it up because it will help you a lot in the IELTS reading test. If you are not the type, you need to develop this reading habit; start by reading newspapers, magazines, textbooks and articles online. This will help improve your concentration while helping you grasp the content in a text easily and in less time. Even if it is just for half an hour, try to read different texts daily; you can do this when preparing for your IELTS exam.

    Here are some practical strategies to improve your reading skills.

    2. Practice mock tests

    Get mock tests from IELTS websites, Cambridge IELTS books and other materials you receive from your training institute and solve them. Always remember that practise leads to perfection; practice is also the key to getting a higher IELTS score. If you can practice 1 or 2 reading passages correctly and efficiently, you may get a high band score in your IELTS exam. After practising every practice test, you will understand the question strategy more, and you will know where to avoid mistakes. The more you identify mistakes during practice, the more you avoid them during the exam.

    3. Prepare a reading strategy

    Before a candidate can be successful in any exam, they have to prepare a reading strategy. However, such candidates must implement the strategy in the exam effectively. There are different strategies, and you can choose the strategy that works for you from several reading strategies. For instance, you may gain confidence when you answer the third section first before the rest, do that so that you can improve your IELTS score. Do what you know works best for you and you will be successful in your next IELTS exam.

    4. Stay focused and concentrated while completing a passage

    Proper concentration is what leads people to their success, and this goes the same way for people who are writing IELTS examinations. The most important skill that will lead every candidate writing IELTS to their target score is concentration. Build up your concentration level by devoting some time to reading texts and practising questions while strictly keeping the timer close to you. The more your concentration while reading the passages and solving the questions, the more precisely and quickly you will be able to solve the questions and pick your answers without wasting time.

    Related article: Smart strategies for students success

    5. Manage time effectively

    Time is one of the things that prevent many people from having a higher IELTS score. What you should do is to plan on how to divide the time across the three sections effectively. To do this, you should formulate a time based reading strategy that will work for you and practice according to that strategy. Assuming the time allocated for your reading test is 1 hour, you can divide it across the three sections, which is 20 mins per section. Since time is crucial for your success in this exam, you should do every section with time in your mind. While you keep your eye on the timer, you must be aware of how much time you have spent on a section.

    Check out these 11 time management hacks for students.

    6. Underline keywords

    One thing that helps people in understanding a passage is underlining important keywords while reading the passage and the questions. Apart from getting to understand the concept of the passage, you will also gain focus using abstract reading; this is the best way to get closer to finding the right answer. In case you don't know, you should underline some facts, capitalized words, figures and others for easy reference when answering the questions. Also, make sure you underline keywords from each question when you read them and try to find related keywords from the passage. This will make it easy for you to find the right answer.

    7. Skim through the passage properly

    Skimming means reading the passage effectively, and it is the first thing to do when taking a reading examination like IELTS. While skimming through the passage, make sure you understand the key points and ideas of every part of the passage you read. You have only read a passage meaningfully if you can get the overview of the total idea of each paragraph. To get the total idea of a paragraph through skimming, you must keep in mind what you read in the first and the last part of the paragraph. If you can get this properly, your IELTS score will improve.

    8. Attempt all the questions

    It is highly recommended that you should try to answer every question in your IELTS exam. This is because there is no negative marking; a marking that will reduce your mark if you get one incorrect. Even if you are not sure of what the answer to a question is, guess and pick one rather than leaving the question blank. Who knows whether you may be right with your chosen answer. In case you guessed an answer, mark the answer for later review at the end of the exam. If you are confused in choosing an answer because you are nervous, try to handle the question patiently. However, do not spend much time trying to solve that single question. Leave it and come back to it later.

    Read this: Five final exam tips for college students

    9. Carefully follow the scanning process

    The next major element of reading for an exam every candidate should do after skimming is to scan through the passage. This is the main aspect of the reading exam that fish out the right answers. Before you can get this correctly, you must follow the right process for scanning. First, you must read through the keywords of the questions to locate the right paragraph from the passage. Second, read through the paragraph to locate the statement that goes well with the question. Lastly, read the statement and compare with the options to know which one to choose.

    10. Understand vocabulary and paraphrasing (guess the meaning)

    Questions in the IELTS are asked in a manner that is quite different from the way they are written in the passage. This means that they are written in different synonyms or words to confuse the candidate. So, you are not always going to find words that match the words in the questions in the passage. Even though you understand the questions, you may have to understand some synonyms of some words to be able to locate the answers to such questions from the passage. Although you may not understand the exact meaning of some words, you may be able to solve the question by guessing the meaning or understanding the complete statement of the question.

    11. Guess your answer grammatically

    Mere looking at the question, a smart student should be able to know whether the answer would be a number, word, a noun, adjective or a verb etc. Once you can identify this, choosing the right answer will not be so difficult for you as grammar plays a vital role in choosing an answer. Also, don't forget to check whether the answer should be a singular or plural word. This is why every student needs to transfer the answer immediately after getting it.

    Related: 10 ways to boost your exam performance

    12. Transfer answers carefully

    In most cases, your answers should be of the same words with those in the passage, although you may have to change some words grammatically (for instance, altering the form of a verb). If you want to improve your IELTS score, you must not, in any way, change the answer to any question (not even using synonyms for some words). If you take note of this, you should get the right mark for the question. Lastly, always transfer the answers simultaneously or after finishing each section and not after finishing the whole exam.


    The whole point of getting these points right is to obtain a better IELTS score that will get you your dream job or course in your preferred country. Although not many people have time to go to a training centre, learning a few tips will help improve your IELTS score without spending much. You can join an IELTS training centre and get tips from IELTS experts too.

    Check out top 10 websites that offer sample practice test for TOEFL, IELTS and others.

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