For those planning to study overseas, IELTS is the “holy grail” of exams, accepted by universities round the world. As a result, it has become a high-stakes test for a growing number of people.

So how can candidates navigate the exam in order to achieve the score they need? Here is some useful advice from the British Council Malaysia.

1. Plan when you need to take the test

The university you have applied to will give you an indication of the level of English required for your desired course e.g. IELTS Band 6, and also when you need to submit this score in order to be accepted onto the course. The submission deadline can be several months before the start of the course, so do check with the university and plan to take the test in plenty of time.

2. Prepare for the Exam

Many candidates find the question types and strict time-limits associated with the IELTS exam challenging. This may be because they have not sufficiently prepared for the exam. There is plenty of online support available, and you can even practice specific parts of the exam online. In addition, he British Council offers face-to-face training with feedback on student performance from an experienced teacher. We cannot tell you what your actual band score is, but we can help you understand what your general level is now and help you plan your studies in order to achieve your goals.

3. Be realistic about your Level

The IELTS exam is considered to be a reliable measure of a candidate’s English level, and this is why it is widely accepted by universities. Therefore, no matter how many times you do the test, no matter how much practice you do, and no matter how familiar you are with the question types, if your actual level of English is lower than your required score, it is unlikely that you will get the score you need. In this case, you would need to do an English course designed to raise your level of English and seek advice on how long this may take. At the British Council, we give every student a placement test in order to understand their general level of English first, before helping them to choose the course that would suit them best.

How can British Council IELTS Preparation Courses help?

1. Variety of full-time and part-time courses
All our courses include important exam strategies and tips on how to manage the exam, as well as practice in all four skills: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Ask our Customer Services team for details.

2. Suitable for General Training and Academic Training candidates
All our IELTS courses are equally suitable for both General and Academic Training Candidates.

3. Practice all question types on the test
All our IELTS courses are designed to fully prepare candidates for every possible question type.

4. Develop skills and extend vocabulary
Many students need to develop skills and vocabulary for the test. Synonyms (different words with the same meaning) are widely tested, and our courses help to support this.

5. Feedback from experienced teachers
Get real feedback from expert teachers so that you can know your strengths and weakness, and improve your skills. 

6. Regular writing practice
Many students need to develop their writing skills and learn how to structure an essay, so all of our IELTS courses practice writing regularly in order to support this.

7. Additional IELTS practice worksheets
Do extra IELTS writing practice and get it checked by an experienced teacher.

8. Expert Advice
Consult our team of Academic Advisors and get support with any part of the IELTS exam. They can also direct you to additional online resources or help you make a study plan so that you can optimise your leaning.

9. Timed practice sessions
All of our IELTS courses include timed practice, and we also offer an additional short course (one-week) which consists only of timed exam practice with feedback from an expert IELTS teacher.

10. Free extra classes
All British Council students have access to myClub, which has free extra classes every week, including IELTS workshops.

All in all, the IELTS exam is reliable and trusted by universities and academic institutions around the world. However, for this very reason, it is a test like no other, and therefore it is vital to be prepared for the exam. Remember that, in this case, practice really does mean perfect!