We want you to do well in your IELTS test, so we’ve put together some tips and advice to help you understand what you can expect on test day.

Follow our test day guidance to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible so you can achieve the IELTS score you need.

Getting to the test centre

Before the day of your test, check the start time of your IELTS test and make sure you know how to get to the test centre on time. We recommend doing this a week in advance so you’re fully prepared. 

Remember to also check the location of your IELTS test location, as it may be different to the test centre where you booked your test.

Arriving for your IELTS test

  • Make sure you’ve read and understood IELTS test terms and conditions as they contain important information about your test day. These can be found in the Test Takers Information part of your application form.
  • If you arrive late to your IELTS test, you might not be allowed to participate.
  • Turn off your mobile and any other electronic devices. These will be kept outside of the test room along with other personal belongings.
  • The Listening, Reading and Writing tests take 2 hours 40 minutes. Please note that there will be no breaks during the tests.
  • You cannot bring food or drink into the test room – with the exception of water in a transparent bottle. Make sure that you have something substantial to eat before your test.

Your identity documents

  • IELTS staff will check your identity upon your arrival, the documents you received when you registered for the test will confirm which ID you’ll need. If you arrive without the correct ID you will not be able to take the test.
  • As an additional security measure, IELTS staff will take a photograph of you before you sit the test. This photo will be used on your Test Report Form.
  • In some countries, you may also be asked to provide a finger scan. 

During your test

Follow these rules when sitting your IELTS test:

  • You are only allowed to have a pencil, pen, your ID, and an eraser on your desk. 
  • If you need to use the toilet during the test, put your hand up to attract the invigilator’s attention and don’t disturb other test takers.
  • Raise your hand to attract the invigilator’s attention if you want to ask a question during the test.
  • When it’s time to take the Listening test, check that you can hear the recording clearly. If you can’t, raise your hand and inform the invigilator.
  • After the Listening section, you will have 10 minutes to fill in the answer sheet. However, you will not have 10 minutes after the Reading section, so be sure to write your answers on your answer sheet when completing each section.

At the end of the test

  • Remain in your seat until you have the invigilator‘s permission to leave the test room.
  • If you believe that your performance may have been affected by any issues, inform the invigilator straight away.
  • If you want to make a complaint about your test day, you must do this within one week of the test date by filling in a Test Day Incident Form.

Special arrangements

If you requested special arrangements  as a result of a disability or other condition, adjustments will be made for you on the day of your test.

Test day tips

  • Follow all instructions carefully and remember that in the Writing parts of the test, you will be required to write a specific number of words.
  • Some questions have guideline time limits for you to follow, make sure you stay aware of the time to ensure you have enough time to answer each question.
  • Stay calm and take deep breaths if you feel nervous or worried. 

Follow the below test advice for each section of the test:

Listening test advice

Follow this Listening test advice, and make sure you understand how to respond to 'completion' type questions. 

You will have enough time to read the questions first before listening to the audio, each recording will be played only once.

Write your answers on the question paper provided while you listen. When the test ends, you will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers onto the answer sheet in pencil. Your answers may be written in either capital letters or lower case. 

It is vital that you input your answers to the answer sheet. Anything that you write on your question paper will not be marked.

Follow these helpful tips to help you make the most of your Listening test:

  • Let staff know straight away if you cannot clearly hear the audio.
  • Follow the instructions given carefully.
  • Listen out for the specific information you need.
  • Try to anticipate what the speaker might say.
  • Be mindful about your grammar and spelling.
  • Don’t spend too much time on a question you don’t know the answer to.
  • Focus on what you are asked to do in completion style questions.
  • Be aware of the word limit; if you are asked to finish a sentence using only two words and the correct answer is ‘leather coat’, then ‘coat made of leather’ would be an incorrect answer.
  • Try to answer all questions; you will not lose points for incorrect answers.
  • Check your answers thoroughly.

Download the Listening test answer sheet. (329KB)

Reading test advice

Follow this Reading test advice, and make sure you understand how to respond to ‘completion’ type questions.

Make sure you write your answers on the answer sheet, anything you write on your question paper will not be marked. If you write down some answers on your question sheet, remember to transfer them to your answer sheet before the end of the test. Please note that you will not be given any extra time to do this.

All of your answers must be written in pencil.

Follow these helpful tips in order to make the most of your Reading test: 

  • Be aware of titles, headings and other special features like italics, underlining, capital letters, facts, graphs, tables and figures.
  • Make sure that you understand the question and follow all instructions carefully.
  • Don’t spend too long on one question or passage, keep an eye on the time you have left.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t spend too long on it.
  • Stay calm if the subject of the text is unfamiliar to you, all relevant answers can be found within the text. 
  • Take the words you use from the Reading text, don’t change the format or order of the words in the text. 
  • Don’t worry if you come across a word you don’t understand, you might not need to use it. 
  • Make sure you check your spelling carefully.
  • Pay attention to your use of plural and singular words, check that they are correct.
  • In ‘completion’ style questions, make sure you focus carefully on what you are asked to do.
  • If a question asks you to complete the phrase ‘in the ___’ and the correct answer is ‘evening’, just use ‘evening’ for your answer; using ‘in the evening’ would be incorrect.
  • Be aware of the word limit. If you are asked to complete a sentence with no more than two words, and the correct answer is “silk shirt” for example, saying “a shirt made of silk” would be incorrect. 
  • Try to answer all questions; if an answer is incorrect, there will not be a penalty, so give it a go.
  • Be sure to check all of your answers carefully before the test ends.

Download the Reading test answer sheet (97KB)

Writing test advice

For your Writing test, all answers must be written in pen or pencil. You can choose whether you would like to write in capital letters or in lower case. 

You are allowed to make notes on the question paper, but remember that anything you write on the question paper will not be marked.

Follow this advice for your Writing test to ensure you use your time carefully:

  • Think carefully about each task and be sure to make notes if that helps you.
  • Underline or highlight key words in the tasks to ensure you are aware of what you need to do.
  • Spend time planning your answers before you write them.
  • Use a clear paragraph structure, put one idea in each paragraph. 
  • Don’t repeat the same ideas by using different words.
  • Don’t copy entire sentences from the question – you will not get any marks for this.
  • Stick to the relevant subject and don’t write about unrelated topics.
  • Make sure you manage the time you have carefully. Keep in mind that Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1.
  • Try to spend approximately 20 minutes on Task 1 and about 40 minutes on Task 2.
  • Keep in mind how many words are required for each task. If you don’t write at least 150 words for Task 1 and a minimum of 250 words for Task 2 then you will lose marks.
  • Practice by learning roughly how long 150 words and 250 words look when written in your own handwriting. During the test, you won’t have time to count them.
  • Do not write your answers in bullet points or in short notes, you need to write your answers in full sentences or you will lose marks.
  • Pay close attention to your grammar, punctuation and spelling. If you make mistakes, you will lose marks.
  • Try to use formal language.
  • Examiners can spot ‘model answers’, so do not memorise them and use them in your test or it will be deemed invalid.
  • Make sure you spend a few minutes re-reading and amending your answers where necessary.

Speaking test advice

Your Speaking test will be a face-to-face conversation with an examiner. The test mimics a real-life situation as closely as possible. 

In part 1, your examiner will ask you questions about topics such as studies, home life or work. These topics will be familiar and should help you feel as comfortable as possible when you answer. 

Make sure you try to relax as much as you can so that you speak as naturally as possible. 

Before your test, it’s a good idea to practice your verbal skills with a friend or teacher.

Follow this handy advice for your Speaking test:

  • Try to speak as much as you are able to.
  • Speak as fluently as you can and try to be spontaneous.
  • Try to remain confident and enjoy using your English skills. 
  • Expand upon your answers as much as you can.
  • Make sure that you talk more than the examiner does.
  • If you need to, you can ask the examiner to clarify a question.
  • Don’t memorise prepared answers, examiners have the ability to recognise this and will change your question as a result.
  • Remember that you will be marked on your ability to effectively communicate your opinions.
  • The questions that the examiners ask often tend to be quite predictable, so make sure you practice at home but do not memorise your answers.

See also