How long is preparation for IELTS exam?

Why IELTS? 

IELTS which stands for the International English Language Testing System is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration.

Over 10,000 organisations worldwide trust IELTS results. When you take the test you can be confident that it is recognised by educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies around the world.

 

IELTS result, expressed as a band (from band 1- the lowest to band 9- the highest) allows your university or employer to determine your English level and whether your language proficiency is sufficient. An interesting fact about the IELTS exam is that you can’t fail it. If your aim is to get band 7.0, because your dream university requires that, and you score band 6.5, you may still secure a place at a university, not your dream one though. 

How long is the preparation for the IELTS exam?

The length of the preparation depends on your current level of English. Here’s a list of levels, hours and weeks you need to study to prepare for your IELTS exam and score IELTS band 7.0

 

Current Level 

IELTS score equivalent

Number of study hours needed to achieve band 7.0

Number of weeks needed (when you study 30 hours a week) 

IELTS score 

A1 elementary Band 0-1 850 hours 29-33 weeks Band 7.0
A2 pre-intermediate  Band 2-3 700 hours 26-30 weeks  Band 7.0
B1 intermediate Band 4-4.5 400 hours 14-16 weeks Band 7.0
B2 upper- intermediate Band 5-6.5 300 hours 10-14 weeks Band 7.0
C1 advanced Band 7-8 200 hours 4-7 weeks Band 7.0-8.0

 

Here’s a list of English language levels and their IELTS equivalent together with a general description of language skills.

 

Current Level 

IELTS score equivalent   

Skill level   

Description 

A1 elementary Band 0-1       Non-user  Band 0-1 You lack the ability to use the language except a few isolated words.

You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

A2 pre-intermediate   Band 2.0-3    Extremely limited user            Band 2-3 You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
B1 intermediate   Band 4.0-4.5                   Limited user  Band 4.0- 4.5 Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.
B2 upper- intermediate   Band 5.0-6.5 Modest to competent user  Band 5 You have a partial command of the language, and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.

Band 6 Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

C1 advanced Band 7.0-8.0  Good user to very good user  Band 7 You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.

Band 8 You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.

C2 proficient  Band 8.5-9.0 Expert user Band 9.0 You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.

 

How much time does it take to study and move from 6.5 to 7.0 in IELTS? 

If you’ve taken the IELTS exam and you missed 0.5 points overall, you will need to study additional 4-6 weeks to score 7.0. It’s recommended that you attend an IELTS preparation course and participate in 20-25 hours of lessons in class plus about 5-8 hours of self-study a week. During the IELTS course you will learn the strategies and methods how to effectively approach each exam task, as each task is different and requires from you a unique approach. The self-study will help you rehearse each approach so that it becomes your second nature and you can effortlessly implement the strategy during the exam. 

How can you improve your speaking score in the IELTS exam?

Writing and speaking parts of the IELTS exam have proven to be the most problematic sections of the IELTS exam for many test-takers.. Sometimes the score of these two parts differs by a whole point with each test students take. If you scored 6.5 and need 7.0 in your IELTS speaking part, you will need to study further 4-6 weeks to score 7.0. You could potentially half the study time with private IELTS tuition. A 1-to-1 IELTS teacher will help you identify your speaking mistakes and work with you to improve them. Private IELTS lessons will allow your teacher to create a tailor-made programme to match your needs. And although the hourly rate of a private class is higher than a group course, you don’t need to book as many private lessons. What’s more, you will have an undivided attention from your teacher, who can answer any questions you have and practise speaking with you throughout the whole lesson. It is rather difficult to improve speaking on your own, so having a private tutor is your best option. That said, don’t think that attending private lessons is enough to move 0.5 point, it’s not. You will have to devote your time to study alone to memorise vocabulary or practise various grammar structures. 

Some more creative test-takers don’t feel that spending money on private tuition is justified. So instead they record their speaking tasks’ answers and send them to an IELTS teacher. The teacher listens to the answers and writes a detailed description of ways to improve student’s speaking skills. This is a very innovative and cost effective way to improve your Speaking without attending IELTS lessons.

You can find online IELTS teachers on Preply

 

How much time does it take to study and move from 6.5 to 7.0 in IELTS writing?

If you miss 0.5 in your IELTS writing part, you will need to study further 4-6 weeks (80-170 hours) to score 7.0. You can half the study time by starting private lessons with a dedicated IELTS teacher. A one-to-one IELTS teacher will help you identify your writing flaws and errors and work with you to improve them. Private IELTS writing lessons are tailor made to your needs, so you don’t spend time on the topics you are already familiar with, instead your teacher focuses on the areas that YOU need to improve. The hourly rate of a private writing class is higher than a group course, but you don’t need to book as many private lessons. Unlike an IELTS preparation course where you learn with other people all four sections of the exam, private lessons allow you to be very precise with regards to your lesson structure and learning objectives. During private lessons your teacher will focus on your writing style, grammar you need to use and vocabulary that collectively help you score a higher band in the IELTS writing task. Unline reading or listening, improving your writing is not easy to do on your own, as you need someone who can check your writing task and mark it against the IELTS writing score criteria, not every English language teacher is familiar with them. So if you’re looking for an IELTS teacher, make sure s/he has the right experience preparing students for the IELTS exam. 

 

Some test-takers don’t feel that spending money on private tuition is justified. So instead they collect some of the recent writing tasks and send them to the teacher, who then checks and marks the writing. This type of consultation service is a very innovative and effective way to improve for IELTS.

You can find online IELTS writing teachers on Preply.

 

How much time does it take to study and move from 5.5 to 7.0 in IELTS? 

If you’ve recently passed the IELTS exam and scored 5.5 but your goal is 7.0, you will need to study for additional 12-14 weeks to achieve band 7.0. The jump from 5.5 to 7.0 is significant, hence you need to improve English in general, studying and perfecting grammar structures, expanding your vocabulary further and improving your writing and speaking skills. If you scored 5.5 in your IELTS test you will have to join a General English course at B2 – upper-intermediate level and study 30 hours a week for about 8 weeks and then proceed to further 4-6 weeks of IELTS exam preparation course. When joining the IELTS preparation course you need to study about 20-30 hours in class with additional 5-10 hours of quality self-study time (completing your homework tasks) a week. 

 

Why do you need to join a General English course before the IELTS preparation course? 

If your current level of English is low or if you scored low in your IELTS exam you need to improve your English in general by attending General English classes. When preparing for the IELTS it’s not only the exam strategies and methods that you need to know but also the more elaborate grammar structures, advanced vocabulary, more difficult texts and recordings, which you can be exposed to and learn during a General English course. Don’t think that if you attend a General English course you are not preparing for the IELTS, it’s quite the opposite. You are still learning towards the IELTS by improving your English proficiency. The IELTS course is most useful if your level of English is relatively high or you miss 0.5 to get your desired band.

 

How can you check your current English level and IELTS band without taking the exam? 

One of the most effective ways to check your current level of English is to reach out to a language school that provides an IELTS course in your area. When talking to the school’s representative or a teacher, explain that you are thinking of taking the IELTS exam and want to know your current level and how long it’ll take to prepare for the exam and achieve band 7.0. The school will be more than happy to assist you as they will see you as a potential student. The free of charge level test that the English school should be able to provide will usually last from 30-45 minutes and very often it’ll either be an oral assessment during which the teacher asks you various questions to determine or a combination of written and oral test, usually called a placement test.  

 

What type of an English language course do you need to prepare for the IELTS exam? 

There are a variety of English group courses to choose from, depending on your level you might have to start a General English course and then proceed to an IELTS preparation course. 

Here’s your IELTS learning journey depending on your level of English: 

 

Current Level 

General English Course 

Number of weeks

IELTS course 

Number of weeks

IELTS score 

A1 elementary Yes 29 weeks Yes  4-6 weeks Band 7.0
A2 pre-intermediate  Yes  26 weeks Yes 4-6 weeks Band 7.0
B1 intermediate Yes 14 weeks Yes 4-6 weeks Band 7.0
B2 upper- intermediate Yes 10 weeks Yes 4-6 weeks Band 7.0
C1 advanced No No Yes 4-7 weeks Band 7.0-8.0

 

If you decide to study English alone or with a private tutor the length of preparation time for IELTS might either extend or shorten. The above timescale is a suggested indication of the length of time needed to score band 7.0 in the IELTS exam. 

 

How is the IELTS score calculated? 

The IELTS exam consists of four parts: Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. The average of each of the four component scores is taken into account when calculating the Overall Band Score. The component scores are equal in weight and they are rounded to the nearest whole or half. 

 

In a situation when average components end in .25, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next half band. Whereas, if it ends in .75, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next whole band. 

 

Here are a few examples: 

 

Reading 6.5 + Writing 5 + Speaking 7 + Listening 6.5 = 25

Divide 25 by 4 = 6.25

Ends in .25 so round up to the next half band

Overall band score = 6.5

 

Reading 6.5 + Writing 6.5 + Speaking 6.0 + Listening 5.5 = 24.5

Divide 24.5 by 4 = 6.125

Ends with a fraction below .25 so round down to the next whole band

Overall band score = 6.0

 

Reading 4.0 + Writing 3.5 + Speaking 4.0 + Listening 4.0 = 19.5

Divide 19.5 by 4 = 3.875

Ends with a fraction above .75 so round up to the next whole band

Overall band score = 4.0