Preparing for the test

IELTS prep app

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

The IELTS Prep App offers:

  • Comprehensive overview of the IELTS speaking and listening sections
  • 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.

Download the app

IELTS progress check

IELTS Progress Check is an official, online practice test. Completed tests are marked by IELTS trained and qualified markers and you will receive an official feedback report, including an indicative overall test band score as well as a band score for each section of the test (reading, listening, writing and speaking). All within 5 days of completing your IELTS Progress Check practice test! For further information, visit the IELTS Progress Check website.

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).

Test takers 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's 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 buy an IELTS prep book from most bookshops or borrow one from a library. However, as there are other testing systems available, you should ensure that the book is specific to the IELTS test.


Advice on preparing for IELTS

Even native English speakers sometimes find that they score lower than expected if they take the IELTS test unprepared so make sure you dedicate time to prepare for the test in advance!

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the test format ahead of the test day. Study the content of each section of the IELTS test and get to know the different types of questions that you may be asked.


The week before your test

  • Your confirmation email (sent a week before your test) 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 may be 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.
  • Ensure you are still in posession of the ID document you provided with your online application. If you are unable to bring this document with you on the test day for any reason, please contact the centre as a matter of urgency.

Your IELTS test day

  • Make sure you bring your ID/passport as you cannot take the test without it.
  • You need to arrive in good time for your IELTS test. If you are late, you will not be able 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.
  • There are limited facilities on campus over the weekend so test takers are advised to bring their own lunch.

Please note that there are no breaks during the listening, reading and writing sections. 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
  • during the last 10 minutes of each section
  • while the papers are being counted after each section
  • while the Listening CD is playing, including the 10-minute pause at the end

IELTS test day schedule

Timings (subject to change)
Arrival and registration 07:50-08:00
Test begins 09:00
Listening 09:00
Reading 10:00
Writing 11:00

Between 12.50 and 17.30 (each speaking test lasts approximately 15 minutes and your slot will be confirmed on the day)


IELTS test format

Structure of the IELTS test

Health and Safety Precautions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Thank you in advance for working with us as we follow the advice of local health authorities. 

Please do not attend your test if:

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week; or
  • You have a cold, fever, are short of breath or have flu-like symptoms

If any of the above applies to you, please email the test centre and we will reschedule your test or provide you with a refund, upon review of supporting medical evidence.

On the test day

  • Your temperature might be taken at the point of entry.
  • Please follow basic hygiene practices such as using the hand sanitiser provided and regularly washing your hands.
  • You are asked to bring with you and wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose. You will be requested to remove this briefly for identification or other purposes. Staff and examiners may also wear a face mask on the test day.  

You will be allowed to take the following with you in the test room: 

  • The ID documents you used to register
  • Up to two pens and/or pencils and an eraser
  • A clear bottle of water with the label removed
  • A clear bottle of hand sanitiser with the label removed
  • Two masks and/or hand gloves

You will be asked to leave all other personal belongings (including your phone) in your own vehicle or where that is not an option, a designated location within the building. Please ensure you do not leave any items in the test room and all personal belongings are collected before you leave the venue.

During the test

  • You will only be allowed to have your ID on your desk and pre-approved stationery. You are not allowed to take your watch with you. Clock(s) will be visible to all test takers in the 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 an invigilator. Do not disturb other test takers.
  • 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 sections of the test have minimum 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 visible. 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

B Floor, Exchange Building
Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1AW, UK

t: +44 (0) 115 951 4419