So, you’ve prepared yourself and booked a test. You know the location and the date. The days are counting down and the time for you to finally show what you can do is coming. However, there may a few things about sitting the actual test that your textbook didn’t tell you. Here are six essential tips for making your IELTS test day as comfortable and stress-free as possible, so that you concentrate on what’s important: getting the band score that you need.
1. Turn up on time
If the test starts at 10:00am, registration will open at 8:30am. There is no reason to arrive earlier than this as you won’t be allowed in; arrive later than 9:30am and you won’t be sitting the test at all. Make sure you know precisely where the test will be held (including the exact building/floor/room) and how you’re going to get there. Don’t leave it until the morning of the test day to figure these things out!
2. Choose the right clothes
You need to be warm/cool depending on the time of year and the weather. If you bring a coat, you can choose to wear it in the exam hall, but if you do you must keep it on for the entirety of the test. Smart clothes can help you to feel confident, but casual clothes will help you to feel comfortable. No one will be concentrating on what you’re wearing; you can always dress up when you go out to celebrate on the day that you get your results! Also don’t wear anything with (an excessive amount of) English writing on it.
3. Be ready for the cloakroom
You are only allowed to take your ID (usually your passport) and a transparent, label-less bottle of water into the exam hall. At the cloakroom you will check-in all your other belongings. So, to ensure that you progress through this stage as smoothly as possible (and don’t get sent back here at a later stage) put your phone, wallet, purse, coins, chewing gum, scraps of paper etc. into your bag and be ready to hand it over. You are permitted to take a few tissues in with you but they must be removed from any packaging and checked by an invigilator.*
4. Use the toilet before the test
This is actually quite an issue on test day. Remember that you cannot leave the exam hall during the listening test, when papers are being collected/handed out or during the last 10 minutes of the reading and writing tests. Also, if you do leave to use the toilet, you will be using your own precious test time to do so. Make sure to use the toilet before you enter the hall. Don’t wait for an invigilator to offer - ask them to show you, preferably before or just after you progress through the cloakroom stage.
5. Be ready for registration
Before you are allowed into the exam hall you will be registered. This will involve invigilators confirming your details (you’ll need to check the spelling of your name and sign), taking your fingerprint (you’ll need to press down four times on a small fingerprint scanner using your right index finger) and taking your picture (sit up straight, don’t raise your chin, sweep your hair behind your ears if it is long, don’t smile and look directly into the lens). Invigilators might ask you questions about your date of birth, the issue date of your passport and other personal information.*
6. Food before the speaking test
You may receive a speaking test time that is almost immediately after the morning parts of the test. However, it is more likely that you will have a long (or very long) wait until your speaking test. Make sure you bring food with you or know where you can get something to eat. Test centres may have nowhere to buy food on the premises or be quite far from cafés and shops. Doing the test can be extremely tiring and due to the volume of candidates to be processed or other unforeseen problems, the test can run much longer than the expected 2 hours 40 minutes. Don’t go into the speaking test on an empty stomach!
Following these simple tips on your IELTS exam day will ensure that you can progress through the pre-test ‘candidate journey’ with minimal trouble and get yourself sat down in the exam hall, calm and prepared to try for your target band score. Whatever happens, focus and attempt every part of the test to the best of your ability. If you need further help preparing for the IELTS test, our IELTS preparation course will be able to help you. Good luck!
*These apply to the UKVI IELTS test.