How to prepare for your IELTS at home

How to prepare for your IELTS at home

The best way to prepare for your IELTS at home is to create a routine that’s easy to follow. This blog post discusses the specifics of how you can prepare for your IELTS at home, with easy actions to implement. And it isn’t just about practice papers. There are things you can do that are external to this, and enjoyable. (Really).

4 musts:  

  • Leave yourself 1-3 months of preparation
  • Dedicate time to research before you really delve in; have conversations with people about the exam, create a set of questions, study each skill and its requirements, create a new folder on your computer and download practice papers, watch useful videos, book a tutor you envisage yourself working with
  • Create an achievable schedule
  • Set realistic targets (start small and build up to weightier targets)

How can I create a revision schedule?

Of course, your schedule needs to work for you. So the example below can be easily tailored to suit the way you work. This schedule focuses on ielts content, not outside explorative, relevant material.

For successful results, recap what you do, work alongside a tutor, spend time getting to know the individual papers, create a schedule like below, implement strategies around how you improve for each skill.

IELTS preparation plan

How can I effectively prepare for my IELTS at home?

Familiarise yourself with the test, then take the test

There aren’t short cuts, in order to know the test you’re taking- research it thoroughly.
Before taking mock tests, familiarise yourself with the four skills and each of their papers.
From teaching students for their IELTS, it's advisable to spend some time just looking at the questions first and getting used to their format.

Take mock tests and practice with Cambridge material continuously until you reach your desired threshold.

Time often seems to be an issue, students commonly say how they can’t fit it in the time. You can. This is where rigorous practice comes in. At first, you can be more relaxed with the time because you are harnessing your competence and confidence in the paper itself. Eventually you need to be strict with your time. Stick to the allotted time frames and keep repeating this.

Listening at home

With the listening exam, you’ll be exposed to different dialects. Listen to various accents as part of your preparation. From home, you can tune into specific radio stations and hear a variety of British accents. Films are an easy way of broadening your accent recognition. YouTube is also a useful resource. You could listen to your favourite celebrities being interviewed and some of the most infamous speeches in history. Ted Ed also has some fascinating presentations of speakers, from all over the world.

As well as accents, speed might be an issue. This is why part 4 of the listening test is harder, because it is faster and they don’t repeat what’s been said.

For this skill, if there’s an option to pause what you are listening to at home, don’t be tempted. Stay with it and try to catch as much as you can. Keep doing this and your ability to remember and hold information will improve.

Note down key components that relate to the topic being discussed in a radio show- for example when Radio 1 plays Woman's Hour and they are discussing the safety of women on the streets, what can you note down that relates to this?

The power of reading

You don’t have to create unrealistic goals in terms of what you read, but consistency is the key.

Create a reading schedule where you ensure you are reading from a wide variety.

Monday- articles from either print or online news sources

Tuesday- short stories from an author

Wednesday- blog posts

Thursday- a set amount of chapters from a novel

Friday- interview transcripts

However you want to arrange your reading schedule, two things are very important;

  • Challenge yourself- don’t stick to reading things that you know are easy for you
  • Read a variety of text types to harness your ability to infer and think critically- both helpful skills for remaining three skills.

BBC’s news articles are topical, relevant and offer a range of language levels and styles. It’s great for anyone wanting to improve their English.

The Economist
Perfect for practicing writing task 1- hundreds of different graphs for you to evaluate, just like the test itself.

School of life
Whilst it's necessary to use news sources as a means to improve your English, it's also good to add another information source that reports less, and evaluates more. From matters of the human heart, to religion, to famous art work- there’s plenty to choose from.


It’s hard at home to engage in conversations a lot, especially if you live alone. But it's not impossible.

Find an IELTS group on facebook and arrange to meet a couple of times a week (more if you’ve got the time)Book in time with your tutor to ensure you are having regular conversations

Final tips

It’s possible to do all of your IELTS preparation at home. The key things to take from this article is:

  • Practice as much as possible
  • Get to know the test before you practice it
  • Use a variety of material to elevate your competency
  • Keep track of your marks
  • Have your work evaluated by a professional tutor
  • Figure out what techniques work for you through trial and error

I would be more than happy to help you on your journey and assist you in your home study for your IELTS exam. If you would like to book a free introductory call with me to create a learning schedule and receive weekly support, book a call with me here.