By IELTS Expert

14 May 2024 - 13:00

An IELTS test taker looking relaxed on her test day

In this article we share some useful tips to help you manage stress during your IELTS test preparation

It’s normal to feel anxious when you’re taking an important test even if you’re prepared. A few nerves can even motivate you to study harder. The problem is that some people struggle to concentrate and become paralysed when they’re too stressed.

Feeling supported and well-prepared can significantly reduce stress on test day. That’s why we provide a comprehensive suite of preparation resources to ensure that your test experience is both smooth and relaxing.

Learn more about the benefits of taking IELTS with the British Council

To help you stay focused and perform your best, here are our top five tips for managing stress during your IELTS test preparation. 

Tips for managing stress in IELTS test preparation

Language tests like the IELTS are often key to achieving professional, academic, or personal goals. That’s why test preparation can cause a lot of stress. Different strategies can help you feel confident and remain relaxed. Here are some ideas: 

1. Learn the best IELTS strategies

Even if you’re fluent in English, you still need to prepare yourself for the specific tasks in IELTS. Learning the test format and task types is key to getting the score you need.

Here are some good IELTS test preparation strategies:

  • Decide how much time you need for each IELTS test section so you know what pace you need to take.
  • Start with the easier questions first. That way you can finish them and save your remaining time for the most challenging parts of the test.
  • Don’t experiment with new or unusual structures in the Speaking or Writing sections on the day. You may confuse your ideas - and communication is key to a good IELTS score.
  • Make the most of different tools and resources to improve your skills. For example, you can listen to a podcast, read a book, and take an online course to ensure you get enough varied practice. 

2. Create a study schedule and try different techniques

You’ll feel more stressed if you leave all your test preparation to the last minute and overload yourself with information. Create a study schedule in advance. Finding methods that best suit your needs helps you stay efficient when you have other demands on your time.

Here are some different studying techniques you can try:

  • Create flashcards for quick practice sessions with language you want to learn.
  • Get practice in real life scenarios and don’t just stick to theory. That means reading English newspapers and having conversations with others.
  • Create rhymes or catchy sayings to help you remember rules. For example, you could try, “I before e except after c” to help you with spelling.
  • Think of associations with challenging words. Perhaps you could picture the word ‘humongous’ as being a very big person so you remember it means ‘very big’. 

3. Keep yourself rested and refreshed

 Did you know that getting enough rest can help you reduce stress? You can also improve your ability to concentrate and retain information so you can get better results on the IELTS test.

Make sure you take regular study breaks and avoid late-night revision sessions as you’ll overload yourself with information and make yourself more stressed.

It’s a good idea to study in a separate room from where you normally relax. That way you won’t associate the space with stress and find it harder to unwind.

Try adapting the place where you relax to encourage rest. You can keep your laptop and study materials out of your bedroom and living room, or pack them away immediately in a box or drawer once you’ve finished your test preparation for the day.

4. Learn techniques to stay calm in the IELTS test

Stress is a natural reaction to situations that make us feel uncomfortable or scared. Many get nervous about tests because they’re worried about their results. 

People have lots of different responses to stress. For example, some people freeze and find their mind goes blank. Others may have a physical reaction like sweating or shaking. In very stressful situations, we might begin to feel sick.

When you feel agitated or upset, you don’t perform as well. So, an important part of test preparation is learning ways to keep yourself calm during your test. Mindfulness techniques can make a huge difference to your stress levels. There are thousands of quick ideas you can try to help you relax and concentrate on the questions again.

  • Accept that you will make mistakes, but remind yourself of all the effort you’ve made.
  • Count from one to ten in your head as you breathe in and out.
  • Imagine all the positive experiences you’ll have because you’ve worked hard and deserve them.
  • Focus on different areas of your body, in turn, starting at your feet and going upwards. 

Feel prepared for your IELTS test

Studying isn’t everything. Managing stress and ensuring you’re well prepared for the test can be just as important for good performance in IELTS. If you get too overwhelmed, you may not achieve the results you deserve.

Make sure you have all the support you need to feel confident about IELTS. The British Council offers a wide range of resources to help you prepare and be as ready as you can be on test day.

IELTS Ready is the British Council’s comprehensive IELTS preparation platform that has all you need to get well prepared for your test. IELTS Ready Member includes six practice tests, tips and videos to help you improve your score, recorded webinars and tips from previous test takers. All these resources are free for anyone. 

When you book IELTS with the British Council you get access to IELTS Ready Premium which has much more resources including more practice tests, personalised study plan, preparation webinars and more, all free for British Council IELTS test takers. 

Learn more about the benefits of taking IELTS with the British Council