The right learning habits for IELTS

The right learning habits for IELTS

Developing study habits for your IELTS exam is all part of the preparation. There are a number of things you should be incorporating into your learning, in order to prepare. Practicing with mock exams is one way, but there are other habits that go beyond this, and one's that can make a significant difference to your language abilities.

This article takes you down two roads- one that talks about practicing for your IELTS in a more general way, and the other in a more specific, targeted way.

You know your English level best. Whilst some people feel they only need a couple of weeks, and others a couple of months, I recommend giving yourself longer than you think.

The IELTS test isn't simply about passing it. The assumption is that you want to possess excellent English language skills, that assist you throughout life, not simply on test day. Whilst you may view it as preparation for the test, I think it helps to think about the preparation as part of your life skills. Communication is such a core component of how we experience life and my recommendation to you, is to overestimate how long you think you will need to prepare for your IELTS exam, rather than underestimate how long you think you need.

Schedule time with me

General suggestions

  1. Listen to a podcast everyday that is spoken in English. You don't have to listen to the whole thing, but a supplement of 20 minutes a day is recommended.
  2. Read a piece of English text everyday. This could be: an interview transcript, an online article, a graphic novel, an online article (The Guardian), a story within a collection of short stories. *short stories are great because you don't need to commit to a whole book, but it tops up your language in bite-size chunks.
  3. Keep a notebook where you record your cumulative learning. Write down new words that you come across and put them in a sentence to contextualise the word- you'll remember them better this way.
  4. In the same notebook, create a different section for grammar where you note down examples of error-free grammar sentences.
  5. Also in the same notebook, create specific pages for more grammatical features such as 'collocations', 'linking words', 'prepositions', 'superlatives'.
  6. Watch videos online that interest you- Ted Talks are great because they are fairly short and cover a wide range of topics

Specific suggestions for IELTS practice


Flashcards are a great way to boost and improve your vocabulary. Recently, I carried out some work with AnkiPro, where I created a deck of flashcards centred around IELTS vocabulary, and acquiring more vocabulary.

Why use flashcards as a learning tool?

  • They offer a more interactive and engaging way of learning
  • Flashcards are an accessible way to practice because you can easily fit ten minutes of flashcard practice into your day
  • They help to boost your memorisation skills
  • You can make your own flashcards based on the examples you see
  • You can review flashcards when it suits you- you can engage with the deck as best fits you
  • They are ideal for testing yourself and assessing what you know

Speaking partner

I also partnered up with, where we created a speaking simulation for two people preparing for their IELTS to practice together.

The idea between myself and Upscore, was to create effective speaking practice with a partner, that is paired to you of a similar level. Rather than practicing with an audio, video or AI generated system, we believe that authentic practice should be carried out to reflect the nuances of the exam.

The process is simple whereby you upload a short audio file, you are then paired with your speaking partner and you both engage in an online speaking event. Thereafter, you are given personalised feedback on your speaking practice.