In order to succeed at anything in life, you need a solid plan and the self-discipline and consistency to work on that plan every day. Hope and positive thinking will only get you so far. 

Many students get overwhelmed by the sheer amount they have to study in order to get the score they want. And when this happens, they find it hard to even get started. Many students don’t know what to study, how much to study, and in an effort to study everything, they don’t get anything accomplished.

Students also focus too much on the final outcome (their IELTS score), an outcome they don’t actually control. But they can control their daily study habits, the study process, and the small things that can be done every day to set you up for success.

Use the tips below to make the most of your IELTS study experience.

Make a Study Plan

How can you know where you’re going if you don’t have a plan to get there? Would you travel to someplace unknown without directions or a map? Would you go on a dangerous adventure without someone to guide you? Many students simply skip this step. They never think about what they’re studying and why they’re studying it. 

But that won’t be you. 

Before you begin, you need to make a plan. You need to be specific about when you will study (the exact times in your day), where you will study (coffee shops, at home, at school), and what exactly you will be studying during those times. Whether it is on your phone, calendar, in your notebook. Take the time to make a solid study plan before you begin on you IELTS journey.

This is essential.

Just Start (The 30-minute rule)

The IELTS is intimidating, and some students are so worried about where to start that they procrastinate their studying. So, this tip is simple. You just need to start and start small! You don’t need to study 20 hours a day to get a great score on the IELTS, but you do need to get started. Some students are so stressed that they forget starting to study is half the battle. They often leave it until the next day, and then the day after that. But once you get started, you’ll be surprised at where you end up.

Maintain Momentum

Think about a train. It takes a lot of effort to get that big, heavy, metal train moving in the right direction. But once it gets started, there is nothing that will stop it. Be like the train. Make sure you are consistent in your practice. Just start studying every day. Let momentum build in your study habits and watch as your study sessions become something you look forward too, something you have complete control over.

Trust the process.

Break it down into smaller pieces and be specific

Never make a general statement such as 'Today I’m going to study IELTS listening'. What does that mean? What part of IELTS listening should you study? What question type to be practiced? What strategy to be conducted? What skill to improve?

And while we’re on the subject, listening to a podcast doesn’t count as studying IELTS listening. Reading a book doesn’t count as studying IELTS reading and speaking with a foreigner doesn’t count as studying speaking.

Instead, you need to break it down. Don’t repeatedly write Writing Task 1’s over and over again until you can’t see straight. One day, simply practice paraphrasing introductions. Another day you can practice writing overviews. And yet another day you can study vocabulary for describing trends.

If you’re practicing IELTS reading, maybe you can break it up by task. Practice T/F/NG questions one day, while you practice matching the next. Take one day to just practice your pre-listening procedures as well. The faster, and more efficient you get at underlining keywords, thinking about synonyms, and predicting the answers, the better you will do overall. 

So, break it down and be specific. It will make for a much more pleasant and manageable studying experience.

Check the box and track Your Progress

The first step was about making a study plan. Now we’ll take it one step further. You should have a plan for every day of the week that you study. Remember to include the when, where and what of your study routine.

You should also have a little checkbox after each 30-minute/hour study-session. Every time you complete a specific study session, make sure to check the box. Then watch as your checks begin to add up.

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