Many – but by no means all – students who take the IELTS Examination for a quantitative assessment of their English-language skills for entrance to universities in the UK and Australia take course to prepare for the test itself. It’s a strongly recommended idea.
People with very high English skills can do well in the exam with no preparation. But even many of them find the severe time limits on the writing tasks, for example, to produce IELTS ‘band’ scores that do not accurately reflect their real writing skills.
Even its creators conceded that IELTS is a tricky test. Question types – there are 10 in all – are often not used in a straightforward manner, requiring both agility of thinking and extra time in answering on the part of the IETLS candidate. Learning how IELTS asks questions, as well as the kinds of questions it asks, can make a significant difference in overall performance.
Perhaps most critically, for both the writing and the speaking tasks – the most difficult for most candidates anyway, because they involve self-expression in English – are expected to be performed according to established IELTS formats. However, the administrators of IELTS spell out those formats nowhere in their published literature. For that matter, the formats are not often made clear in the numerous books on IELTS preparation on the market.
For all these reasons, to get the IELTS band score that most accurately reflects your real English-language skills, some kind of tutorial is advised. In large cities with educational centres, there are both universities, schools and private companies that offer such IELTS- preparation courses. In such places, it is also usually possible to find private tutors, although seeking them out can be more difficult.
The books on IELTS Exam preparation are surprisingly poor overall. There also are online courses. Looking in your favorite search engine for ‘IELTS online preparation’ will provide you with some reasonable choices.
Unless you know your English skills are at or near the native-speaker level, it is strongly advised that you take some kind of IELTS tutorial before you take the exam to get the band score that most accurately reflects your real skill level. Conversely, taking an IELTS-preparation course to improve your English skills is wrong-headed. That should be done in another context. There is too much to be taught about the IELTS Exam itself to allow for the teaching of skills at the same time.