There is so much information to find on the internet about doing the IELTS test. But what should you do on the actual day of the test? Or the week before? Or six weeks before?
This is something that many students do not even consider. But if you take the time to plan these things, then the day of your actual test can run very smoothly and help you keep focused and calm.
Below I have written a guide on what to do before the IELTS test and on the day of the test. You can use this as a checklist to ensure that you are ready and prepared.
Let’s get started.
Weeks and Months before the Test
One thing you should always do throughout all your IELTS study program is to have regular checks and tests. You need to know where your weaknesses lie in certain skill areas.
Maybe your speaking is light years ahead of your reading skills. If so, then you need to do more work on reading and bring that up to speed.
Do a weekly mock test of IELTS six to eight weeks before your real IELTS test. Do these tests under real IELTS test conditions.
That way you are well-practised in the way the IELTS test is done and there are no surprises for you on the big day.
Constant Review of all your notes
You should also revise and go over all your notes again and again and again all the time you are studying for IELTS. This will serve you well in the real test. All those times that you revised will pay off and provide dividends in your test results.
Make English part of your life
All the time you are studying for the IELTS test you should make English a part of your daily life.
That means reading English newspapers, watching English language TV shows, listening to English podcasts and totally immersing yourself in the English language so it becomes second nature to you when you use it on the day of the test.
It is not enough to do one or two English classes a week. You need to live, breathe and eat English every day in the time that you are preparing for the IELTS test.
Two days before the test
Contact the test centre and find out EXACTLY where the test is. Go to the test centre and find the exact location if you have time.
This will help you on the day of the test.
It is one less thing to worry about and saves you from getting stressed out on the big day. Find a map online and mark down the exact location of the test centre.
Preparation is everything!
Check when the speaking test takes place
Sometimes it takes place the same day as the reading, writing and listening tests. Sometimes it takes place one week before or one week after. But whenever it takes place you should find out and make a note of it in your calendar.
If the speaking test takes place on the same day, make sure you have enough supplies — water and snacks to sustain you through the day.
The day before the IELTS test
The biggest mistake I have heard of students doing the day before they take the test is that they spend the entire day cramming. By this I mean that they try to do a massive all-day study session — or even worse, an all-night study session — in the vain hope that they will learn a few more English words for the test.
This is a complete waste of your time.
The best thing you can do is relax.
And when I say relax, I really mean relax and do nothing at all about the IELTS test. No reading, no vocabulary work, no writing, no test practice.
Instead, go for a walk in the park. Have lunch with your friend. Watch movies all day. Do whatever you want to do but do not try to study any further for the test.
You will not gain any more skills. The best thing you can do is nothing all day.
Get your supplies
If you need to buy pens, pencils or a new eraser, now is the time to do it.
DO NOT LEAVE THIS UNTIL THE ACTUAL DAY OF THE TEST!
Have all your supplies ready and waiting for you.
Buy some water — plastic transparent bottles. Buy snacks to give you energy on the day of the test. Avoid sugary treats. Get healthy snacks like fruit or nuts.
Your ID card should be part of your supplies too.
Get all your supplies ready.
Pack everything you need
At home, pack all your supplies in your bag. Keep them in your room where you can see them. Then all you have to do is grab your bag when you leave.
Get your clothes ready
Prepare the clothes you want to wear on the day of the test. Prepare comfortable clothing and shoes. You are not marked on your appearance so wear comfortable clothes.
Get a good night’s sleep
And as I stated above — please do not stay up all night studying for the IELTS test. You need to sleep!
Have a big hearty meal and go to bed early. Get a solid eight hours of sleep. This will make sure that your mind is sharp, and you are focused on what you have to do in the test.
Sleep. You need it.
The day of the test
Get up early
Rise and shine, it’s the day of the test.
Try to get up early so you have plenty of time to shower, eat breakfast, get dressed and relax a little before going to the test centre.
The last thing you want to do is rush around because you got up late. This will make you stressed out and you will not be in a good state of mind for the test.
Give yourself plenty of time to do everything today.
Make sure that you have a good breakfast. No stopping off somewhere on the way to the test centre to buy snacks. You need real food and real nutrition. And as you have got up early, you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy your breakfast.
Avoid coffee if you can — or if you must have coffee do not drink too much. You are likely to feel nervous today as it is the day of the test. Too much coffee will make you feel anxious so keep it to a minimal level.
Green tea is better if you can drink that.
Usually, the test starts at nine o’clock. Get to the test centre at eight am if you can. This gives you plenty of time to get your bearings.
You will have to do two things when you arrive:
Hand in your personal belongings
There should be a clearly signed place where you do the ID check. Do that first.
Then ask where to hand in your personal things. There should be a secure place to take your bag. You must hand in everything. The only things you can take into the test room are pens, pencils and an eraser. You can also take a bottle of water. Make sure you have all these things with you.
Go to the toilet
After you have handed in your personal things, go to the toilet. Even if you think you don’t need to go. You can ask for a break during the test, but you should really use all the time in the test to do the actual test.
Go to the toilet.
And wash your hands!
Go and wait
There will be many other students milling around, some will be rushing around as they get into a panic because they are stressed out.
Do not be like them.
Try to find somewhere you can sit down and wait.
Practice some breathing exercises. Check here for how to do it.
The IELTS Test begins
You enter the test room
Someone will tell all the students taking the test it is time to enter the room. So in you go.
Do not talk to any other person in the room — it is not allowed.
If someone asks you something or wants to talk to you — ignore them.
If you talk while in the room you could have your entire test cancelled.
So no talking!
Find the clock
There should be a clock in the test room. Find it and make a note of the time. You should be well aware of how much time you have for each section of the test. Be aware of how much time you have left and pace yourself for each section.
Think about the questions
First, read all the questions and make sure you understand them. If you do not understand a question, do not worry about it. But for all the questions you do understand make sure you understand what it means and what the question is asking you.
If you cannot answer any question at all — move on.
The test supervisor cannot help you with any of the questions do not ask him/her.
Need a break?
If you need a break from the test — going to the toilet or you feel unwell — you must raise your hand and ask the supervisor. Do not call out to the supervisor across the room.
Please be aware: You cannot take a break in the first ten minutes or last ten minutes of the test.
If you need help with anything, you must raise your hand and ask the supervisor. He/she cannot help you with any of the questions!
Maybe you have been given the wrong test paper or you can’t hear the questions in the listening test. If so, raise your hand and ask the supervisor.
The Test Ends
You must wait until the supervisor tells everyone to leave the room. Do not stand up and leave! Your test will be cancelled. You cannot leave the room without permission.
Leave all your notes and papers on the desk. Someone will collect your test paper.
After the test
You can collect all your personal items from security. You will be told the results of your test 13 days later, either by going to the test centre or having the results posted to your address.
And that is all there is to it.
I advise you to make a checklist so you can tick things off as and when you do them. By doing this, you will save yourself a lot of stress in the buildup to the big day.
It goes without saying that if you try to cheat in any way, your test will be cancelled. Cheating may not even be that a big a deal in certain cultures but you are not allowed to do it at all in the IELTS test. And they have very good methods to check for cheaters these days!
Just do your best and prepare well.