Preparing for IELTS



Today, I go into a bit more detail on How To Prepare for IELTS. I share my personal experience with English exams and I give you an example of what to do in the Speaking section of the exam. I am still looking to speak to more survivors of IELTS. I am also looking to speak with listeners who live in Australia or New Zealand. Contact me! And enjoy the show :)

Episodes mentioned

[180] Wanted: Survivors of IELTS




Hello, hello, are you travelling to Australia? If so, I have prepared a special gift for you, it’s called “An insider’s guide to life in Australia”. It’s a FREE guide telling you what you need to know BEFORE and AFTER you arrive here. You can download it from my website,
How do you say spell this word guide? Let’s see if your listening skills are up to scratch. The word GUIDE is spelled as G U I D E.

Let’s hit it.


Hey guys, before we begin today’s show, I would just like to say hello to my student Nicholás who has recently approached me to help him prepare for a presentation that he had to give at his work. He was a bit nervous and insecure as English is his second language, he was confident about his technical abilities however, the presentation bit was a bit daunting, scary for him. He had to present in front of some people who are high-up in the company, people like the executives, and it would be the first time he would present in English. So obviously, it was a nerve-wracking experience for him so he was seeking my help.

So, I just found out the presentation was a success and I am sending a big shout out to Nicholás, well done on your achievement! That’s one milestone achieved! You should be proud of yourself!

Alrighty! Let’s get cracking. That’s Australian for Let’s get started.

In this episode we are going to learn how to prepare for IELTS, I will share some tips on how you can prepare for IELTS or TOEFL. They are quite similar as they test you on 4 different disciplines – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

In my opinion Writing and Speaking would be the trickiest parts – more complex, but for some people it’s Reading and Listening.

Why do people have to do IELTS? Or any other English exam?

Look, I am not against English exams. I think they are useful, you would need to know at least Basic English to survive in Australia or any other English-speaking country, wherever you happen to travel to.

Let me tell you something, 20 years ago when my family moved from Serbia to New Zealand, my Dad had to do an English test, too.

It was not called IELTS then. It was something else. I can’t remember now.

Someone from a New Zealand embassy called him and they had a short phone interview. The questions he was asked were personal questions about himself and his family.

It was a check to see if he understood English at all.

Most of you would do really well in that phone interview.

For my Dad it was a challenge to speak in English back then, he wasn’t a fluent speaker, he was at a very basic level and was learning English for 1 year.

Anyway, that was 20 years ago.

And about 5 years ago, you needed a score of 5 in IELTS to come to Australia. Now they require you to be more proficient in the language and need a higher score, 7.

So back to the question, why do people need to do IELTS or TOEFL?

I think I have already answered this in the last episode, but if you are new to the show, you should know, IELTS is one of the requirements if you were applying for a Visa to Australia, Canada, UK the US and other English-speaking countries.

Whether you are applying to study or start a new life in Australia or New Zealand you would be expected to sit an IELTS test.

That’s great Milena, tell us something we don’t know!

Ok, how about this…

Do native speakers of English have to sit IELTS?
Do you ever wonder that?

Would someone from the UK have to do IELTS if they were migrating to Australia?

The answer is YES.

If someone from Canada or the United States was coming to Australia, they would also have to do an IELTS test.

Yup, it’s not just for non-native speakers. It seems like everyone has to do it. Especially if they don’t have enough work experience to show on their visa application.

I have met native speakers who were too confident about IELTS, they were like oh it’s just an English test, whatever. I can do this on the day.

Well, that’s a big mistake.

It’s not a simple English test. You can’t just wing it.

Wing it means – you can just do it on the spot, improvise and think of answers on the spot.

You really have to prepare for it.

I recommend at least 1 month of prep if you are an Advanced Speaker of English, meaning you are comfortable to engage in a conversation. This is 1 hour every day.

So I know that the majority of listeners of the English Made Simple show are English learners so I just wanted you guys to know that again – you are not alone when it comes to IELTS or TOEFL. Even native speakers have to do it!

So, How do you prepare? Where do you start?

Number 1. Get familiar with the format of the questions.
Number 2. Get familiar with the format of the questions.
Number 3. Practice every day.

You can find past exam questions on the Internet, anywhere on the Internet, there is an abundance of information online. And it can get confusing sometimes.

When you practice, read the questions carefully. Did you answer the question at all?
I am referring to the Writing and speaking sections in particular.

Sometimes when we are too nervous we forget to answer the actual question and we tend to go off tangent.

So my tip is to look at the question carefully, highlight some words that really stand out, they look important, we call those keywords. Underline those keywords and then look at the Action Verbs – what is required of the question. Also, does the question start with a WHO, WHAT, WHY type of question…

Right, basic but most people forget.

Let me give you an example of what I mean by Get familiar with the format of the questions.

For example, the Speaking part. The speaking part of the exam has 3 sections. The first section is about you, something personal about yourself and the section 2 is answering a CUE CARD.

Did you notice how this section is always asking you to DESCRIBE something?

You could be asked to describe a person, a family member, a celebrity, your favourite item, an experience, an event, a place, a city, a childhood memory … for each of those you need to be able to come up with some descriptive words. But you will also need to answer the sub questions inside the cue card. There are usually 3 sub-questions, when they ask you think about (Who this person is that you admire, what do you like about this person and why you chose this person)

To answer this section correctly you would be expected to answer all the questions they ask you in this CUE CARD.

Does this make sense?

Number 4. Get a friend or a teacher to give you feedback on your writing and speaking.

I have a program to help you with Writing and Speaking, with that part of IELTS. It is a 4 week intense program and you will get feedback from me and also tips on how you could improve in these 2 areas specifically.

Please contact me if you are interested in working with me to help you with IELTS.

How much does it mean to you to pass IELTS? How would you feel if you got the right IELTS score?

I know, it can get really personal, you will be going through a whole range of emotions, a rollercoaster of emotions, up and down.

But as I said, you are not alone in the game of IELTS. I call it a game. Let’s make it fun.
There are others out there who feel the same as you.

I am still looking to speak with the Survivors of IELTS, I have a couple of people interested to share their stories and I am quite excited to share them with you guys soon!

Also, I am curious, are any of you currently living in Australia or New Zealand? I would love to chat with you and would love to hear about your experience Down Under.

So thanks for listening amigos y amigas. I am going to dedicate the whole month to IELTS and TOEFL because I have received quite a lot of questions from people about these 2 exams.

Thanks for joining me amigos y amigas.

Don’t forget to download the Insider’s Guide to Life in Australia, written by a migrant for migrants.
Go to

Thanks again for listening. You’ve been an amazing audience and you’ve been jamming with Milena from English Made Simple, until next time. Hasta la proxima!

Milena Vujnic

Milena Vujnic

Podcast Host at English Made Simple Podcast


Milena is the host of the English Made Simple Podcast and is passionate about helping English learners break their fear of speaking English so they can confidently make conversation and be understood by other English-speakers.

Milena lives in Australia with her Chileno husband and loves anything podcasting and online coaching and is honoured to be supporting and guiding immigrants from all over the world with her products, programs and coaching services.

Click here to learn more about how you can work with Milena.


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