Free IELTS practice tests Reviews
These free practice tests are offered by the British Council, which is of course the organisation overseeing the IELTS exam globally. Tests are available for all four components of IELTS (there are separate Reading and Writing tests for the General Training and Academic exams).
The British Council appears to have designed these tests specifically for first-time candidates of the exam, as each test comes with concise and easily-understood instructions as well as helpful tips on how best to tackle the test. These brief instructions are a great way to let first-timers know what to expect from the sample tests, and eventually from the actual exam as well.
There is, of course, nothing quite like practising for IELTS with sample materials from the very body that administers the exam. The sample tests are a very accurate depiction of what candidates should expect to encounter in the real exam. Moreover, the instructions and pointers help to point candidates in the right direction on how to answer the exam, as opposed to simply throwing them into the deep end without any guidance. Thus, these tests are an ideal place for candidates to start their exam practice before moving on to secondary resources which aren't prepared by the British Council.
The only drawback to note is that there is only one test for each component of the exam. This lack of variety makes it impossible to consider the IELTS website a "one-stop shop" for IELTS preparation. Hopefully, more sample tests will be made available in time to come so that candidates can expose themselves to a broader range of possible question styles.
I intend to move to Canada, and so I needed a document proving a satisfactory level of English language proficiency. I had been learning English for years, and I figured that what I needed was a test that would enable me to obtain a certificate as soon as possible, without much preparation. I chose IELTS (the General Training version) because it seemed to offer just that: all I needed to do was to study a bit beforehand ? mainly about the structure and underlying logic of the test itself, since I was confident about my knowledge of the language ? and then simply take the test. Since my budget was tight, I didn't want to spend money on printed books, and instead went online in search of good free-of-charge prep resources.
One of these resources was the Free IELTS practice tests that I found on the British Council's website. I found the introductory information (both 'How to prepare for the IELTS test' and 'Understand the IELTS test format' to be very useful since it helped me understand the structure of the test and what would happen on test day.
After reading through the introductory material, I immediately dug into the practice tests themselves. The tests were, of course, divided into four parts, corresponding to the four parts of the IELTS test: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Apart from the tests themselves, each section had links that lead to more very useful and practical advices. For example, the 'Reading test advice' offered several practical tips that helped me concentrate on what was really expected on the reading test.
When it came to general website design, I found this particular website very easy to use. It was highly intuitive: all the links, menus and submenus were in logical places and very easy to find. The introductory articles contained just the amount of information I needed. I am generally allergic to websites which claim to be free-of-charge but are constantly trying to sell me something and keep bombarding me with weasel words. First impressions are always important, and the impression I got the moment I set my eyes on this website was that someone had done a very good job.
Doing the British Council's Free IELTS practice tests felt like the real thing. This online course really gave me a sense of what would await me on test day. For me it was important to understand what I should concentrate on, and that was exactly what I got. If you are very advanced in English, this is just the page for you.
One improvement I would like to see in this particular online IELTS course are videos showing what a real speaking test (i.e. the fourth and final part) would look like, outlining good and bad ways to prepare and do the actual interview. However, since an interview always involves two persons, I imagine it is very hard to simulate, because one never knows where the conversation will take them. Despite this tiny imperfection, the Free IELTS practice tests is nonetheless one of the best online resources for IELTS test prep out there and I would particularly recommend it to anyone who aims at a high IELTS score.
The great advantage of the practice tests is that you get an authentic experience that serves you well. Through them you learn the most about the exam and they also serve you in a way that you are able to see predictable patterns within the exam. Once you are comfortable enough with the practice tests you should be able to score decently. If you find yourself in a situation that you are unconfortable about the exam despite going through a number of practice tests, you should consider investing in a specialized resources dedicated to the exam. Do your research and figure out what would serve you the best (a book, tutor, videos, etc.).
This website provides basic information about IELTS, practice test, British Council courses and allows you to book for the IELTS exam. The practice exams can be downloaded in a PDF format which I find is really helpful since I can save the exam and practice it as often as I can. Though this site does not really provide a comprehensive review on IELTS, I would still recommend it to future test takers since it is also very informative.