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IELTS Preparation: Understanding the task types

IELTS Preparation: Understanding the task types


There is clear evidence that learning the various task types in IELTS is the quickest and most effective way of improving your band score. We recently conducted research on over 100,000 British Council candidates using Road to IELTS (our official IELTS preparation product) to do just this. We found that after using the program for just six hours, candidates’ scores in the Reading module activities improved by, on average, 64%. 

Clearly, in six hours there can be no significant change in their level of English; their improvement came from learning how to answer the questions. This can be achieved in a relatively short period of time.

How do I know if I understand the task types?

Let me ask you some questions:

  1. Do you really understand the difference between “Yes”, “No” and “Not Given” in the Reading test?
  2. Do you know the kind of questions you should expect in Part 3 of the Speaking test? And do you know how to answer them to gain the maximum number of marks?
  3. Do you know which tenses to use when you are describing a graph (Academic), or writing a letter (General Training)?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you are not yet properly prepared for your IELTS test.

What can I do?

If your aim is to pass IELTS first time, it is useful to know where your strengths, weaknesses, and general abilities are before you start your preparation. Taking a placement test and knowing how best to organise your time will stand you in good stead. But if you do nothing else, you really must understand how the test works. This means becoming familiar with question types and task types in each of the four skill tests. It will take the stress out of the experience, save you time in the test and give you the best possible chance of achieving the band score you need.

My advice to you is to get started with Road to IELTS, which describes all the task types and gives you a lot of practice in each of them. If you register for IELTS with the British Council, you will get a Last Minute version free of charge. You should also consider subscribing to the full version here. It could make all the difference to your band score.

Further reading

Once you understand the question types, make sure you know all the details of what will happen on test day. Click here to find out more.


  1. Bibin Ealoor says:

    IELTS Reading subtest has so many task types. My biggest concern is whether to choose the skimming or scanning technique to answer these types of questions. Please advise.

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