Improving your IELTS score!

Research suggests it takes approximately 200 guided learning hours for a language learner to progress from one CEFR level to the next. That means if you have an IELTS score of 4.5 now (B1 level), you will need roughly 200 hours of lessons to have a good chance of scoring 5.5 (B2 level).

These figures are a guide only and there are a lot of factors that can affect how quickly you improve including:

  • how much you use English outside of lessons
  • how hard you study
  • your first language
  • your age
  • your language learning background

What can I do to improve my IELTS score?

There are lots of ways to improve your chances of getting the IELTS score you need in time.


You need to develop a good range of academic words and phrases for all parts of the exam. Remember to study typical collocations and the grammatical patterns that are associated with new words. You should study vocabulary connected to common IELTS topics example:

  • science and technology
  • the environment
  • employment and money
  • law and order
  • health
  • government
  • the media and advertising
  • science and technology
  • globalisation
  • women and the family
  • education

You can also use the academic word list (the 570 most commonly used words in academic English) to organise your vocabulary learning:


You need to be able to understand and use a range of complex structures in order to score a high mark on the IELTS test. In your writing test and speaking test you could try to use some of the following to help improve your score:

  • noun phrases
  • relative clauses
  • conditionals
  • passives
  • participle clauses
  • modals

You will also need to be able to use basic grammar accurately. You should be aware of the mistakes you usually make and check your work for problem in these areas. Some common errors are:

  • verbs: tense, singular / plural agreement, verb forms
  • spelling
  • use of articles
  • use of linking words

Exam technique and timing:

Learning about the organisation of each section of the exam and typical question types can help to improve your score a lot. Look at past papers to learn about the exam. Other skills you can practise are:

  • timing
  • paraphrasing
  • predicting
  • skimming and scanning
  • checking your work

 Kate O’Toole (Director of Studies)