If you’ve registered to take the IELTS test or are thinking of registering, you’re probably also thinking about how to prepare for the test. We’ve already looked at some great, free IELTS test preparation methods for the listening and speaking sections. Now we’re going to do the same for reading and writing.
Two tests, two methods
Practicing for the Reading and Writing sections of the IELTS test starts with deciding on the proper test format for your goals. The Listening and Speaking portions of the test are the same for the General Training and Academic versions of the test, but both the Reading and Writing are different for each version.
The Academic version isn’t necessarily more difficult, but includes reading and writing topics better suited to the formal language required in universities or professional organizations. The General Training test presents everyday-English texts and asks students to write using semi-formal or informal language.
Preparing to read and write for the IELTS Academic Test
The Reading section of the Academic test requires you to read three lengthy texts from authentic sources like books or newspapers. The subjects of the texts can be either factual or analytical, but are suitable for all test-takers. The Academic texts may also include graphs, charts or diagrams that you’ll have to interpret and show that you understand.
As with any practice test, be sure to respect the time limits and try to work as quickly as you would in a real test and to follow the instructions closely.
Can’t wait to start preparing for IELTS? Here’s a practice reading test for IELTS Academic.
Now for the writing. The subject matter for the Academic test will require you to understand and analyze information and then communicate your opinion in two different ways.
Writing Task 1 presents you with another graph, this time to summarize and explain in your own words. Writing Task 2 is a short essay where you will need to demonstrate understanding of a subject and then share some informed opinions.
Preparing for the writing task can be difficult without feedback so you should try to find a teacher or English-speaking friend who can help you find mistakes and things to improve.
But getting comfortable writing on the appropriate topics can be helpful even without feedback. So grab a pen or pencil and remember: You have 20 minutes for Task 1, 40 minutes for Task 2, and must write in a formal, academic style. Try these sample questions from the British Council.
Preparing to read and write for the IELTS General Training Test
You can prepare for the Reading and Writing sections of IELTS General Training in the same way as the Academic test but just keep in mind the change in topics. Although neither test is more difficult than the other, familiarizing yourself with what subjects you’ll need to read and write about will improve your test experience.
IELTS General Training will present you with three texts on general interest or work-related subjects from authentic sources likes newspapers, company handbooks, and other documents. Take this practice test to get familiar with the General Training reading topics.
The General Training writing section asks you to write in a less formal style than the Academic test but still contains two tasks and requires you to write the same amount of words.
In Task 1 you will write 150 words in the form of a letter explaining a topic or asking for information. Task 2 is a short essay where you will give your opinion in a 250 word response to an argument, statement, or point of view. Practice both writing tasks for IELTS General Training with these sample questions from British Council.
There are great resources online to help you get ready for IELTS. Try British Council, IELTS Canada, and IELTS Essentials. IELTS Buddy is an unofficial resource but has a helpful comment section
Interested in IELTS Preparation Classes? ILSC offers the IELTS Mastery Program and IELTS Mastery: 6.5 and also has general IELTS preparation and evening classes to get you ready for your test.