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IELTS Preparation: Understanding your weak areas

IELTS Preparation: Understanding your weak areas

The problem

You need to spend a lot of time preparing for IELTS on your own. But studies show that even when independent learners know which of their language skills are strong and which are weak, they still tend to spend more time on their strong areas. In a 2015 study at the University of Hong Kong, Professor David Gardner found that students ‘ultimately preferred to remain in their comfort zone.’

With limited time available, it is essential that you move out of your comfort zone, and spend your time where it is going to have the greatest impact.

The solution

For a start, you need to know which are your strong areas and which are your weak areas. That’s where the British Council’s free study planner comes in. Click to download it. The study planner covers all four skills. On the left hand side it provides practice activities; and on the right hand side helps you reflect on your performance. Make good use of it, and you will know your relative performance in each of the four skills.  

You can find the practice activities in Road to IELTS, the British Council’s official IELTS preparation product. If you register for IELTS with the British Council, you will get the Last Minute version free of charge. If you are looking for a more complete package, you can subscribe to the Full Version here. (The IELTS practice tests and band score calculator in Road to IELTS can even give you an idea of the band scores you can expect in the Reading and Listening papers.)

Next, you need to know how much time you have available to spend on IELTS preparation. Download this time management study sheet to help you work this out.

Once you have been through the study planner and the time management study sheet, you will know which skills you need to spend your time on, and how much time you have to spend. The final step is to create a revision timetable. Allocate the time available to the four papers: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, giving the most time to your weakest skills. You now know how many hours per day you are spending on each skill.

Finally, you need discipline. It’s human nature to spend more time on the areas you are best at and which you enjoy the most. But this will not help you get the band scores you need. Be disciplined, move outside your comfort zone, and you will deliver your best possible performance on your IELTS test day.


  1. Rao says:

    Dear sir/madam,
    My name is Rao, I am going to write about for a negative speaker he can perform 50% in IELTS test but, as per exam in 1) Reading: In this exam, you’re making marks for total 40 marks I need get 38 marks for minimum 6band this is not correct at least for 40 marks to make 50% it means 20 marks will get for 6 band,
    This exam you’re making very time critically, because of you’re people need money, eventually made like money business.
    * This is Entrance exam only not a Guinness book of record
    * This exam who are going to English country they need survival with society.
    * Every person minimum 5 to 7-times writing the exam
    Just think how much earning money
    *, however, one attempt its self each band 6 required you’re people purposely making one exam 5 then again we have to write exams
    My opinion we are humans our self-making degrading
    Just think of you in my situation
    I hope one-day our people will realise
    Please understand as a positive.
    Anyone can give me replay of my heart rate words

    Best regard,

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