Many of us think of relocating abroad for one reason or the other. When thinking of countries to relocate to, our first choices are usually English-speaking countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK, because not only do those countries have a high standard of living and numerous opportunities for immigrants, but we also do not have to pass through the hassle of learning a new language.
Since English is the official language in Nigeria, it will be easier for us to assimilate in English-speaking countries, however, there is still a hurdle that we will have to pass, which is passing a recognized English language test. You have to show proof of your fluency in English language before you are allowed entry into these countries for work, business or study purposes in the form of recognized English proficiency tests like IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC, and Cambridge English Qualifications. You can decide to write any of the above tests, but the most recognized is the IELTS.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognized examination that assesses the English language proficiency of a candidate. It is widely used for educational and immigration purposes in countries abroad where proficiency in the English language is paramount, including countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and many others.
- How to register for IELTS exam
- Test centres
- How to prepare before IELTS exam
- How to prepare on the day of the exam
- After the exam (Your result)
How to register for IELTS exam
You can register for the exam online through the British Council or IDP Education, which are the two authorized organizations that administer the IELTS. Visit their official websites and find out the registration requirements, pick from the available test date and select a centre. Depending on your purpose for taking the test, you can write either the Academic module (if you’re travelling abroad for study purposes) or the General Training module (if you’re going abroad for work purposes).
You can register for the exam physically by downloading the IELTS application form online, printing it out and filling out all the required information. Then visit the nearest approved IELTS centre and register for the exam. An email will be sent to you informing you of your test date, location, and additional information after you have successfully registered.
Keep in mind that you must be at least 16 years old to register for the exam, and if you are younger than 18, your parent or guardian must book the test for you. You must provide a valid means of identification (which should be your international passport), your contact address, and your prospective university (if you want your results to be sent directly to them).
The cost of the IELTS exam varies depending on the test centre and the type of IELTS exam (Academic or General Training) you choose. Visit the official websites of the British Council or IDP Education to find out the current fees. Generally, the cost of the IELTS exam in Nigeria ranges from around N75,000 to N90,000, but the cost is subject to changes including dollar fluctuations. The IELTS exam fees typically include the cost of all four sections (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) and the issuance of the Test Report Form (TRF) which is sent to you and the institutions you choose.
IELTS is written at authorized test centres operated by the British Council and IDP Education, which are responsible for conducting IELTS exams worldwide. There are various test centres in Nigeria and the most popular ones include:
British Council Test Centers:
- Lagos: British Council Lagos Office, 20 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi.
- Abuja: British Council Abuja Office, Plot 3645, IBB Way, Maitama.
IDP Education Test Centers:
- Lagos: IDP Education Lagos Office, 2nd Floor, 84 Opebi Road, Ikeja
- Abuja: IDP Education Abuja Office, Suite 110, 1st Floor, NAF Conference Centre, Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki
The availability and locations of test centres may change, so make sure to visit the official websites of the British Council (www.britishcouncil.org.ng) or IDP Education (www.ieltsnigeria.com) to find out current information about where your test might be held.
How to prepare before IELTS exam
1. Understand the test format
Familiarizing yourself with the test format is the first step to take when writing the IELTS. You need to understand what it entails before committing to writing the exam.
The IELTS exam consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. You need to be proficient in all four to pass the exam. Each section has its unique requirements and time limits. When preparing for the exam, you need to perfectly understand the structure, question types, and assessment criteria for each section so you can effectively prepare for the exam.
2. Plan your preparation
To pass the IELTS, you need to devise a thorough plan on how you will go about preparing for the exam. Determine your strengths and weaknesses in all four sections and allocate time to each of them.
Set a realistic schedule that you can follow, and allocate time for mastering each section as required.
3. Utilize study resources
There are various study resources available to help you prepare for your IELTS such as textbooks, online materials, sample tests, and mobile apps like Duolingo. This will help you enhance your language skills and test-taking strategies.
To figure out the best study resource, it’s best to reach out to those who have already written and passed the exam and find out what worked best for them.
4. Enhance your English language skills
To successfully pass IELTS, you need to develop your English language skills in all aspects: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Engage in activities that help you improve your vocabulary, sharpen your grammar, and perfect your comprehension skills.
Make sure to implement what you have learnt in your daily life, and correct all grammar mistakes that you have been making previously. If your normal form of communication is your native language or pidgin, switch to using the English language so you can immerse yourself in the language. It will benefit you to hire a professional tutor or enrol in classes to prepare you for the exam.
The Listening section of the IELTS exam will test your attentiveness and comprehension of spoken words. Improve your listening skills by practising listening to a wide range of accents and topics, especially past IELTS listening tests. Pay attention to keywords and context while listening, and familiarize yourself with different speech patterns. When listening, take notes of the important information, and develop effective note-taking techniques to use during your exam.
The Reading section of IELTS tests your ability to read, comprehend and analyze written texts. You can improve your reading by reading various reading materials, including academic texts, newspaper articles, magazines, and novels. Develop effective reading skills so you can quickly scan the text to locate the main ideas, supporting details, and the writer’s opinion or purpose in record time.
The Writing section of IELTS assesses your ability to express your ideas coherently in written form. Develop your writing skills by practising different types of essays, letters, and reports. The more you write, the more your writing style and accuracy will improve. When writing, make sure to pay attention to grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and coherence. Always plan and organize your ideas before writing to ensure a logical flow of information.
The Speaking section of IELTS will test your ability to communicate effectively and coherently in spoken English. Make English your primary language of communication and surround yourself with well-spoken individuals. Pay attention to pronunciation, intonation, and grammar while speaking, and encourage others to correct you whenever you make a mistake.
5. Practice past questions and take mock tests
Past questions will help you familiarize yourself with the format of the exam, and mock tests still help you develop the mindset for the exam.
Take regular mock tests under timed conditions to help you become familiar with the test environment and improve your time management skills. It will also help you identify the areas that need improvement so you can work on them.
6. Seek professional guidance
You may not be able to effectively prepare for the IELTS on your own so it is essential to meet with others that have written and passed the exam, to get feedback and advice. You can also consider enrolling in IELTS preparation courses offered by reputable institutions or hiring a qualified IELTS tutor.
They will provide you with expert guidance, assess your progress, and offer personalized feedback to help you improve your skills.
How to prepare on the day of the exam
The day of the IELTS exam is crucial as it determines your performance. You may have studied extensively and prepared adequately, but still mess up on the day of the exam. This is why it is so important to take precautions and follow important guidelines a few days before and on the day of the exam, as you don’t want anything to interfere with your performance.
1. Eat and rest well
You don’t want to come down with an illness or be too burnt out on the day of your exam. This is why you need to maintain a nutritious diet, good hygiene, and a healthy routine a few days before your exams.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
You’re setting yourself up for failure if you study overnight the night before your exam. Study shows that adequate sleep helps with memory and learning because sleep is essential in converting short-term memory to long-term memory.
You need sleep both before and after studying. Going into the exam tired and lacking sleep will cause you to make mistakes that will cost you your exam. A well-rested mind and body will help you stay focused and maintain concentration during the test.
3. Eat a nutritious breakfast
You need good food for your brain to work at its full capacity and keep you alert during the exam, so make sure to start your day with a healthy and balanced breakfast.
Choose foods that provide sustained energy, such as whole grains, fruits, and proteins, while avoiding heavy or greasy meals that may make you feel sluggish.
4. Dress comfortably
It’s normal to feel anxious on the day of such an important exam, and wearing tight and uncomfortable clothing will not help you relax. Choose loose-fitting clothes that allow you to move freely and won’t cause any discomfort during the test.
Depending on the weather, dress light and keep a jacket at hand in case the air conditioning becomes too cold for your liking.
5. Arrive early at the test centre
Make sure to arrive at your exam centre with time to spare. This will give you ample time to familiarize yourself with the surroundings and mentally prepare for the exam.
Calculate the distance and time it will take to get to your test centre, factor in potential traffic or transportation delays and aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the designated start time.
6. Bring the required documents
There may be some documents required for you to bring to your test centre. Make sure you have all the necessary documents ready before leaving for the exam, which typically will include your identification document (passport, national ID card, etc.) that matches the one you used during registration.
You may be required to bring other documents, which will be specified in your test confirmation email. Visit the official IELTS website to be sure.
7. Stay calm and positive
Your mindset is extremely crucial on the day of the IELTS exam. Being too anxious may cause you to make unnecessary mistakes. Remind yourself that you have prepared well and that you are capable of passing the exam with flying colours.
Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or positive visualization to help you stay centred and focused.
8. Follow test instructions carefully
Instructions will be provided by the invigilators which you must pay attention to and follow religiously.
Listen carefully to the guidelines regarding the test format, timing, and any specific rules or regulations. If there are any doubts or questions you have, make sure to clarify them before the exam begins.
9. Use time wisely
Time management is crucial during the exam. You should make sure to answer all questions, review your answers and have time to spare. Not being able to manage your time wisely may lead you to panic when time starts running out.
Allocate the appropriate amount of time to each section based on the number of questions. If a question is too difficult to answer, skip it and come back to it later. Do not waste too much on one question, and pace yourself accordingly.
10. Maintain concentration
Maintain a high level of concentration and focus on the task at hand. Do not allow other exam candidates and external factors to distract you. Try not to panic even if you come across a difficult question, just move on and answer the simpler ones first.
11. Stay until the end
You may feel frustrated if you think you haven’t performed as well as you hoped in a particular section and may want to give up. Your dismay may cause your confidence to shatter and your concentration will be affected.
Each section contributes to your final score, so even if you do not do well in one section, you can always make up for it in other sections. You may even be mistaken and have done better than you thought. The key is to not give up but to sit through the entire exam, complete all the tasks and utilize the allotted time fully.
After the exam (Your result)
Your IELTS results will be available 5-7 days after writing the exam and will be valid for 2 years after your exam date. You will be graded on your performance in each part of the test and given a score between 0-9 (IELTS Band Score). The higher your score the higher your proficiency. You should aim for a score of at least 6.0.
The IELTS is not an easy test, but as Nigerians, we have an advantage since English is our official language. Most of us grew up speaking English so we already have a level of fluency in the language. As such, preparing for the exam will be easier, we will just have to touch up on our English language skills, correct the grammar mistakes that we have been making, and improve our vocabulary. As long as we make adequate preparations for the exam, and sit for the exam in top form, then there’s a high chance of passing.