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IELTS Preparation tips

The best ways to study for the four IELTS sub-tests: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking

Is Speaking Different for the IELTS Online Exam?

IELTS now offers a completely online version of the exam.

This is different from computer-delivered IELTS, because you can do the online exam at home.

You also don’t have to go to a test center for the IELTS Speaking test. (If you take the computer-delivered version, you will still have to speak to an Examiner at a test center.)

Does that mean that IELTS Speaking is more like TOEFL Speaking? Are you now just talking to a computer?


You still get to talk to a real, human Examiner, and the format of the exam is the same. In fact, you will be answering the same types of questions, adhering to the same timing and format, as all IELTS Speaking test candidates.

These days, you’re probably used to having video calls with people, either for work or in your personal life. If you’re not used to talking on video with other people, you will want to practice this before your exam!

Most importantly, though, the way you’re scored on your Speaking exam is also exactly the same. The Examiner is listening for the same things in order to score you in four categories: Fluency and Coherence, Vocabulary, Grammar, and Pronunciation.

On the IELTS Energy English 7+ podcast, we talk about EVERYTHING related to IELTS, for Reading, Listening, Writing, and, of course, Speaking. You can also watch all episodes as videos on our YouTube channel, IELTS Energy TV.

If you’ve never listened to the podcast, you’re missing out! We publish two new episodes every week, and they’re free! The show is hosted by Jessica Beck and Aubrey Carter. Jessica was an IELTS Examiner for 14 years, and has a Masters in Applied Linguistics. Aubrey Carter is 3 Keys IELTS certified, and has a Masters in TESOL. Both hosts have been teaching for 20+ years, and are, honestly, fun to hang out with. You’ll have so much fun that you’ll forget you’re studying!

To prepare for the highest IELTS Speaking scores, listen to the episodes listed below.

Fluency and Coherence
IELTS Energy 1319: Examiner Answers Your Burning Speaking Questions
IELTS Energy 1330: 7 Tips to Sound Natural on IELTS Speaking

IELTS Energy 1325:Is IELTS the Stuff of Nightmares?
IELTS Energy 1328: Don’t Use ‘Get’ on IELTS

IELTS Energy 1287: Don’t Make These Noncount Noun Mistakes on IELTS
IELTS Energy 1299:Who, That, or Which? Necessary IELTS Grammar

IELTS Energy 1294: Fabulous Family Sample Part 3 Answers
IELTS Energy 1327: The Difference Between 7 and 8 for Speaking

Make sure to follow the IELTS Energy podcast so you never miss an episode.

Who is Jessica Beck?

Jessica All Ears EnglishJessica Beck was an IELTS Examiner for 14 years, in Taipei, Taiwan, and in Portland and Boise in the U.S. She has been a co-host of the IELTS Energy podcast from All Ears English since 2015, and created the online IELTS course, 3 Keys IELTS. Also, she has written over 20 ESL textbooks for young learners and adults. Jessica lives in Portland, Oregon, with her son and two dogs.

3 Top Problems in IELTS Listening With Solutions

3 Top Problems in IELTS Listening On Computer With Solutions

When you are taking the Listening test on a computer, even if you are a reasonably confident English listener, chances are you will experience at least one of these problems.

Today Robert Nicholson, a former IELTS examiner and co-author of the “High Scorer’s Choice” IELTS practice book series, shares a way for you to deal with these problems. Make sure not to miss the Bonus Tip at the end!


Short on time? Here is a quick summary:

Problem 1 – Losing track of the recording and missing several answers in a row

How to avoid losing track of the recording

Keeping up with the recording is a problem for many people. It’s easy to get lost and miss a few answers in a row. To prevent that, always read not one, but TWO questions ahead and keep thinking of the two things you are listening for.

For example, there is a form to fill in. In question 2 a house number is missing, and in question 3 a year is missing. You should keep thinking: “I need to hear a house number and then a year”. Even if you miss the house number, when you hear a year you will know you are up to question 3. It will stop you losing more than one question’s answer. Be selective about things you are listening for.

How to move between questions in the correct order, to avoid skipping questions by accident

Make your eyes zigzag from left to right when answering multiple choice questions. This is because the first question appears on the left side of the screen, and the next one is on the right side. Then, the following question is on the left again, and the one after it is on the right. Many people automatically look only at the questions on the left, and don’t notice the questions on the right until it’s too late, the recording has moved on, and they missed all the answers to questions on the right side.

How to move your eyes in the IELTS Listening test on computer

Problem 2 – Rushing and choosing the answer too soon

Listen until the very end, because the answer might change. Often you hear the speaker mention one answer option, but then they decide on another. For example. Sandra and Roger are talking about the platform where their train stops. Sandra thinks her train stops at platform four, but then Roger says it’s changed to platform seven. If you select the answer too early, you may select four, when the correct answer is seven.

Problem 3 – Lack of time to read all the questions before the recording starts.

At the start of every part of the listening test you are given some time to read the questions. This time feels very short. To give yourself more time, here is what you can do. When Part 1 ends, you get some time to check your answers. Instead of checking your answers, skip to Part 2 and start reading the questions there. It doubles your time! Do the same when Part 2 ends. Instead of checking your answers, skip to Part 3 and start reading the questions there. What about checking your answers? At the end of the Listening test, you get 2 minutes to check your answers, and that is when you can do it.

Visit IELTS Online Prep platform to practice for IELTS on Computer

Bonus Tip – How to Check Your Answers

At the end of the Listening test everyone gets two minutes to check their answers, but not many people know how to do that, to maximise their score. Checking whether or not you’ve chosen the correct year, house number, amount of money or person’s name is not easy, because you probably won’t remember them. By the time you get to Part 4, what you heard in Part 1 has evaporated from your memory. But there are other important things to check for in your answers. These things, if not fixed, can cancel a perfectly correct answer. So, when checking your answers, look at 3 things.

1. Word count. Check the instructions to see how many words are allowed, and make sure that your answers do not exceed that limit.

2. Spelling. It is important, because a correct answer that is misspelled will be marked as incorrect.

3. The answers you left blank. You don’t lose points for incorrect answers, so it is better to guess than leave anything blank. If your guess is correct, you’ve gained one mark, and if it’s incorrect, you’ve lost nothing, so it makes sense to do that in the final two minutes of the Listening test.

A very special thank you to Jessica Beck from the IELTS Energy podcast for having Robbie as a guest on the show.