Without meaning to offend anyone, I think it is plain ridiculous to devote 6–8 hours daily for IELTS, as many often suggest. I mean, if THAT kind of effort is required, you are simply not ready to take an English proficiency test. Not yet. And you will need several months of reading magazines and books, watching English movies, and maybe attending a Spoken English class to correct your basic grammar, spelling, punctuation, and so on.
All the above is NOT IELTS preparation. These activities are nothing more than a basic English learning programme.
Now let’s come to IELTS preparation. I am assuming that you, my reader, is the typical average Indian who makes some grammatical errors but nothing serious. If you are that type, then you don’t need more than a 5-week preparation.
Practice speaking EVERY DAY. It takes time to develop your fluency. Speak naturally and avoid using fancy words and phraseology which are not part of your natural vocabulary. Don’t try to impress the IELTS examiners by memorizing stuff and vomiting them out there. They are trained to catch fakes. And you will be marked down severely for trying to pull a fast one. Don’t even think about it. Your answers need to be spontaneous and therefore original. Don’t focus on content. Just make sure that your response is relevant to the question asked. Don’t ramble aimlessly. At the same time, don’t sound abrupt. Briefly include the ‘why’ of every question in your response. Don’t worry too much about grammatical accuracy. As long as we can understand what you are saying, as long as grammatical issues do not prevent me from understanding your meaning, you are safe. It is fluency that matters more. Sounds strange, but that is the way it is. If you are at a 5.5 level in speaking, it’s quite possible to make a 1-band jump through one month’s practice in this way. 30 minutes every day: this is all that you need to get a 6.5 in Speaking
2. Reading and Listening
Easiest to handle them. Learn the ways to tackle the various types of problems. This should take about 6 days. From the 7th day onward, you need to practice 13/14 questions of Reading every day. Similarly, you must solve Section 1 of Listening for 2 tests every day over 2 days. Only after doing 40 questions of Section 1 over 2 days, must you move on to 40 questions of Section 2 over 4 tests spread over 2 days.
This is your most serious challenge. Learn the basic format and ensure you have someone who is qualified to check your writings. Don’t plan to write like a scholar. IELTS doesn’t want that. Avoid repetitions, use synonyms, use appropriate words and expressions (not ‘difficult’ English) and be relevant in your response. Whatever you mention must be well-elaborated in your answer. If you don’t wish to elaborate on something, simply don’t put down that point. It will not be considered. The paragraphs must be balanced with an introduction matching with the conclusion while the body paragraphs turn out to be of approximately the same length. This holds true for Writing Tasks 1 and 2 in both Academic and General
Writing one task every 2 days is all the practice that you need. Don’t burn yourself out. Enjoy the preparation. If you relish the journey, you will make your task so much easier and bearable. There is a life outside ILETS after all!
A Final word
Study a little daily but aim for accuracy at all times. This routine may be frustrating and sometimes deceptively slow. But rest assured that it is highly effective. You enjoy your practice, do the few questions accurately with full concentration, and gain in confidence as the days go by. All this without even realising how well-prepared you are becoming for a test which many say is very ‘difficult’. What more do you want?
Excellence is a Habit.
All the best.