Preparing for the test


Find sample versions and advice at

IELTS Prep App

Download the new IELTS mobile application and start your preparation for IELTS today!

The IELTS Prep App offers: 

  • A comprehensive overview of the IELTS Speaking and Listening tests
  • Listening and Speaking practice tests 
  • Common grammar rules explained and exercises 
  • Videos of IELTS Speaking interviews 
  • Useful tips for the IELTS test 
  • Assessment criteria explained 
  • Quizzes to test your knowledge of the IELTS test format 
  • More information on IELTS related topics 

You can also set a test day reminder, practise using in-app materials and check just how much progress you make. The app also lets you bookmark useful pages so that you can easily go back to specific content. For further information and to download the app please click here.

Free online practice

If you have registered for the IELTS test online, you can access the ‘Road to IELTS’ self study preparation course. This offers 30 hours of FREE online tuition and is available when you enter your email address and IELTS reference number (found in your confirmation email).

Candidates can also register for the Free "Understanding IELTS" Online Preparation Course. This course will take you through each stage of the IELTS test — reading, writing, speaking and listening. At each stage there will be advice from a video tutor and a team of experienced IELTS educators. You will also be asked to share your experiences, tips and opinions with other learners.

Practice materials

IELTS Official Practice Materials are now available for purchase from our centre. These can be ordered via The University of Nottingham online store with free 1st Class Recorded Delivery.

Free IELTS practice materials are also available from the Take IELTS website or you may wish to to purchase resources from the Cambridge English website.

Alternatively, you can purchase an IELTS preparation book from most bookshops or borrow one from a library. However, as there are other testing systems available it is advisable to ensure the book is specific to the IELTS test.


Advice on Preparing for IELTS


Some native English speakers are surprised to find that they score lower than expected when they first take the IELTS test. This can happen if you take the test unprepared so make sure you prepare for the test in advance!

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the test format ahead of the test day, to make sure you know what to expect. Look carefully at the content of each part of the IELTS test: listening, reading, writing and speaking and get to know the different types of questions that you may be asked in each part.



The week before your test

  • The confirmation email you received includes the start time and location of your IELTS test. Check this the week before to ensure you know how to get there on time.
  • Remember, the address of your IELTS test location is different to that of the test centre where you booked your test - check the confirmation email for more information!
  • Take the time to read full details of the ‘IELTS test terms and conditions’ for important information about your IELTS test day.

Your IELTS test day

  • Make sure you bring your passport as you cannot take the test without it.
  • You need to arrive in good time for your IELTS test. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to take the test.
  • Switch off your mobile phone and any other electronic devices and leave them in the waiting room, along with your watch. You will be disqualified if you are found to have any of the above items in the exam room.
  • Make sure you have something to eat and drink beforehand. No food is allowed in the test room - only water in a transparent bottle.

IELTS Test Day Schedule

  • Make sure you arrive at the venue no later than 08:45 in the morning of the exam. If you arrive late, you may not be allowed to take the test.
  • The Listening, Reading and Writing test will take place in the morning.
  • The Speaking test will take place between 13:40 and 18:30 in the afternoon of the same day. Your allocated time will be given to you on the day.

Please note that there are no breaks during the Listening, Reading and Writing test. However, you can use the toilet during the allocated time by letting the invigilators know.

You cannot go to the toilet while instructions are being given, or during the last 10 minutes of each test, or while the papers are being counted after each test. You cannot go to the toilet while the Listening test CD is playing, including the 10-minute pause at the end.



IELTS Test Structure

 Structure of the IELTS test


During the test

  • You will only be allowed to have your ID on your desk. All stationery will be provided in the exam room. You are not allowed to take your watch with you. Clock(s) will be visible to all candidates in the exam room and several verbal time checks will also be provided by the invigilators. 
  • If you need to go to the bathroom during the test, put your hand up to attract the attention of the invigilator. Do not disturb other candidates.
  • If you have any questions during the test, raise your hand to ask for help.
  • Please remember that you will have 10 minutes after the Listening section to fill in your answer sheet. You will not have 10 minutes after the Reading section, so please make sure that you write your answers on your Reading answer sheet as you complete each section.

Test day tips

Understand the task

Follow instructions carefully during the test. Remember that the Writing parts of the test have specific word length requirements.

Allow enough time for each question

Some questions have suggested time limits for you to follow. Every test room will have a clock on the wall. Stay aware of the time during the test so that you can complete all the questions.

Stay calm enough to do your best

If you feel worried, take deep breaths to calm down. Focus on the questions and do not rush your answers. This will help you to do your best.



The University of Nottingham IELTS Centre

C Floor, YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB, UK

t: +44 (0) 115 951 4419
f: +44 (0) 115 951 5155