“Organizing your time properly will help reduce anxiety during the test.”

Time is an asset, and its optimum utilization takes us to the roads of success. Therefore, time management is integral for any exam or in day-to-day activities. Today through this article, we will look at the IELTS exam test timings for the four different skill sections: listening test, writing test, speaking test, and reading test, where the test taker needs to use time management strategies efficiently during the IELTS examination.

This article also includes general tips for test day. So, all of the advice that I'll be giving you today applies to both the general training and the IELTS Academic. As you all know, there are slight differences in the content of the IELTS reading test and task one in the IELTS writing test, but I will explain more about that as we proceed.

So, today's topic is the management of time in IELTS. First, let's take a look at the duration of time allotted to every section:

  • The speaking task will be 11 to 14 minutes long. The examiner will direct the duration of this particular task.
  • The writing task will be 60 minutes long. There are two tasks in this section which are to be divided, according to my suggestion, into 20 mins and 40 mins respectively.
  • One minute is the preparation time in part two speaking.
  • This one-minute preparation time for the cue card in part two of speaking is followed by the 40 minutes for the listening. But that is 30 minutes of listening and 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheets.
  • The reading section is 60 minutes long, and it has 40 questions that have to be answered.
  • Three days can be taken between speaking and the other three sections. You need not do the speaking, the writing, the listening, and the reading on the same day. The speaking can be up to three days before or after the rest of the tasks.

Which of the sections are you really up against it with timing where you run out of time?

I would say the paper base listening. So, on the paper-based listening, you listen to the audio for 30 minutes and then are given 10 minutes to write your answers on the answer sheet, whereas on the computer-delivered, you enter your answers as you go through.

Let's see if I can help you with these different skills and what you can do to improve your management of time, and then we're going to go through skill by skill for the optimum management of time.

Listening section

Let's begin with the listening section first. So, in this section, you have no control over when the audio starts and when it finishes. However, there are things that you can do to maximize your chances of success in listening.

Okay, so talking about listening, first, read your mind notes. The first thing to do is be familiar with all parts of the IELTS test, as it will put you in a better place if you know what to expect.

Soon, you need to know that you will only hear the recording once. So you need to be listening from the beginning; you're not going to hear it again as it won't be repeated.

You need to do something else when on the paper delivered listening; you have those 10 minutes to transfer your answers, you must take the time and do it carefully and meticulously.

Why? Because if you misspell something or your grammar is incorrect, you will not get the mark. Also, I'd like to say that there is no negative marking, meaning if you get one wrong, there is no penalty. So you really need to be getting as many of these 40 questions as possible, even if some of them are an educated guess.

So, you know, that you'll only hear the recording once, just like in real life. And the other one is that you have that time to transfer your answers. So please don't use the listening time to put your answers onto your answer sheet.

Now, what's an example of a good answer sheet? Let me show you. Here's an IELTS Listening answer paper that's completed. This is an excellent example. As you can see, the writing is clear and legible. So, you also notice that numbers are written as numbers. That's fine. So, if you see that numbers are written as numbers, this obviously will avoid spelling mistakes if you write the number. The usage of capital letters while writing answers is a good approach if you have trouble stating when you should use capital words, which saves you from grammatical errors.

How can you spot any errors?

So, here's what I'll say that check the spellings in the answer sheet. For example, in the answer sheet given, the spelling of Violin is incorrect because an extra E is added to the end, be careful of such silly mistakes. Now, if the word is centre c, e, n t, r, e is British English, and center c, e, n, t, e, r is American English. Either of these is acceptable on IELTS. However, you must then be consistent. However, if you have used an American English spelling first, you must continue throughout your paper. And vice versa. If you have begun with British spelling, you must continue with the British spelling throughout.

You need to remember that your grammar should be correct. So, theoretically, if a word requires a capital letter, it should be given a capital letter, i.e., on proper nouns.

Also, for example, the months of the year, like May and February, should have a capital letter. Now, some test takers find it easier to write everything in capital letters. And that is also acceptable. So maybe if you have an issue or a problem with where to capitalize, you could write everything in capital letters—just an idea.

You can always use numbers instead of spelling out the entire month when working with dates to avoid spelling mistakes. This approach of answering keeps you on a safer side and guarantees your mark. For example, you can put 12-slash-05, or it could go the other way around, and it could be 05-slash-12, which is how it would be written in the States. So, pick a language style and be consistent with it throughout the paper.

Also, fundamentally, you must read the instructions.

I find it tragic when test-takers lose marks because they haven't read instructions carefully enough. Okay, so, as soon as you get your listening paper before the audio begins, you must use that time and carefully read instructions, underline keywords, and instructions.

For example, something like no more than two words or a number, look at those, underline those, and check that you're actually following the instructions. Read ahead, use the time to read ahead, and predict what you're going to hear.

So you must, in the listening, start reading as soon as you get that paper, predict what you're going to hear, and use the transfer time very carefully.

Writing Section

The writing task, as mentioned before, is 60 minutes task. 20 minutes for task one and 40 minutes.

How do you divide that time, then for the 20 minutes for task one?

Are you just going to start writing immediately? The answer to that would be, No, you're not. Now, I recommend using a three-step plan for task one writing; begin by paraphrasing, then identify your overview, and then identify and describe the key features and make comparisons where relevant.

Planning is crucial for writing. The key is that you must take a few minutes to identify your own view and contemplate the main idea. So make a plan before you start. Now that applies to task one and task two. So not only the writing, but you've also got to take a few minutes before you begin writing. And you must leave yourself a few minutes after writing to check what you've written. So, for task one, it's all about knowing the data. You have to practice speed with accuracy to excel in this part of IELTS and IELTS in general.

Please take time. To analyse the title, you need to know exactly what the focus of your writing is. So you must spend a few minutes analysing the title and working out what you need to do.

The crucial thing in your timing is planning and then time to check. So, take those few minutes to come up with ideas, jot them down, and you can write anywhere on your question paper, as you do not have to hand it in; no one's going to look at it.

Plan in the way that works for you. Okay, then identify which of those ideas you're going to use and how you will link them together. Then, after writing, try to leave yourself a few minutes at the end of the writing to go back and proofread.

The key to time management for the writing is knowing the data for task one, being familiar with what data shows you, and your task to give yourself planning time.

Speaking Section

The examiner directs the timings in the section, you've got 11 to 14 minutes, and there are three parts. There is one part where you're not speaking; that is a minute's preparation time for part two. There is a whole article about using that preparation time and speaking section, which you can check on the Marvel IELTS website. Other timing issues are not having enough to say in part one. So just remember, the best way to extend those part one answers is always to give a reason for the answer. Describe the main points from the mind notes, and you will be able to do great.

Part two, use your minute's preparation time wisely. Part three, just remember always to extend your answers as fully as possible. And do give your opinion and make your points of view. Clear in that one. Remember, for the speaking, just continue speaking, and the examiner will stop you when needed. So don't worry at all about the speaking timings because it's the examiner who will. He will sort all that out for you.

You need to keep practicing before test day. You need to know how long two or three minutes will take and the duration of your preparation time.

We've talked about the importance of your speaking: knowing what to expect that you really think is important and practicing speaking many times before test day.

There are separate articles specifically about the listening and the speaking sections on the Marvel official practice app. Please go and check those out. Share the links with your peers to help them with their preparation. Practicing computer-based tests is more accessible now.

IELTS Reading Section

Now, what is the problem with time and IELTS reading? The problem is that you generally run out of time. Why did you run out of time? Because there are three texts on the academic paper. There are three sections on the general training. So, there is a lot to read. And there are 40 questions to complete as well. So that's the reason that in the reading section, you must employ time management skills.

Okay, so I'm going to give you just a few tips. So do remember, there are three sections, you have 60 minutes, there is no transfer time.

I recommend one minute per question. But that takes 40 minutes. Yes, exactly. That will then give you some minutes before each section to preview to look at the questions and instructions.

Skim a text, I'm going to give you some other tips as well in a second, and it will also give you a few minutes in the end for you to go back to any sections that you've missed. Because remember, there is NO NEGATIVE MARKING. So, you want to write as many answers onto that question sheet as possible.

Now how to find out how many answers you need to get correct on the reading, listening for you to gain the desired band score that you need. Very often, test takers get quite disturbed when they can't find the answers and are pretty sure to have got one wrong, or they've skipped a couple of questions. So, do you know how many you need to get correctly for that required band score? Because you're not going to need 40, I'd like to say to you, don't worry if you have missed a couple, here and there. Now, even though you know those high sevens or band seven, you're looking at, between 30 and 32 on the academic, a bit higher on the general training. But you know, just be aware that you don't need to be getting 40 answers, correct.

Well, you have got to remember as well; each section of the reading becomes progressively more difficult. However, it's said that we can take 20 minutes for each section and one minute per question. So, if you can complete part one in less than 20 minutes, that obviously will give you longer to complete the more difficult tasks. Remember, task three is always quite challenging.

General Tips

  • When you preview the reading, at topic sentences which are usually the first sentence of a paragraph.
  • Skim through the given text to get a general idea, scan through it; that's where your eyes move quickly to locate keywords or numbers. Or it's quite easy to scan in English the proper names because remember; they've got capital letters.
  • Carefully check introduction, paragraphs, and conclusion paragraphs, particularly if you've got a writer's opinion tasks where you need to identify what a writer is thinking about a chosen topic. Because generally in English, that sort of information would be in the introduction or the conclusion. Now, that's where generally opinions and points of view are expressed in English.
  • It's quite essential to learn a bit more about text structure. So, for example, you should be able to identify whether a text is a descriptive text so factual; generally, it will be organized chronologically, by date, or is your text a discursive text, so is it theoretical? Is it based on research and evidence and opinions and look at how they are structured, which can then help you gain a bit of time, knowing where the information will be in the reading chunks.
  • Identify keywords in questions and the texts. To save time. I generally say read the questions first for the majority of class types. And obviously, to reiterate, answer all 40 if you can.
  • Listen to the text carefully in the listening section.
  • Make notes and then start writing in your IELTS writing section.
  • Speak confidently and go through the delivery as your mind notes

Tips for preparation

To manage your time in preparation for test day

  • Make a study plan
  • Know where your strengths are, know where your weaknesses are. And please,
  • Incorporate your strengths and weaknesses into your study plan and timetable with timed practice tests under exam conditions.
  • Make sure you know your target schools. Make sure you're aware of how your speaking and writing are assessed as well. You need to know the exam and the timings before going into the exam.
  • Read as much as you can to enhance your vocabulary to get that desired band score
  • Work on your reading speed. You can increase it purely by reading more and more, read, and read and read. I can't help but stress this point because it is integral to your preparation.
  • Work on your writing speed also how clear is your writing.
  • Don't study late into the night before the test because you really need to be awake and not tired for your test. Remember that those three components of IELTS together? You're in there for quite a long time. So, get a sound sleep.
  • On the IELTS test day, try to wake early if you can, and why don't you just put some English-speaking radio or some motivating audio in the same language on while you're getting ready while getting dressed and having your food, nice and healthy snacks, lots of water to drink.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Arrive in time. Don't stress yourself by being panicked and late on test day.
  • While you're in the test, keep your eye on the clock; there will be a clock you can see. It will be clear and visible. So, keep your eye on it.
  • Between the different tests have a little stretch. So, you know when one of your papers is taken away. So, relax and stretch yourself a little bit.
  • DON'T PANIC. Don't panic at any point, and remember you have got everything under control, and always keep hydrated.
  • How should you use your time after the test is finished? First, what you need to do is just take a break. Then, when you complete the test, forget about it.
  • Above all, make time your friend and make sure you both are in harmony only then will you get that score you desire

You can easily make yourself accustomed to the IELTS task 2 essay no matter what level you are on. We at Marvel guide IELTS candidates towards the best ways of IELTS preparation and give valuable tips that will assist you in your IELTS academic exam, overall, as well. We suggest you practice and practice. There are various question types present on MarvelIELTS.com. You can go through multiple exercises, including reading passages, essay-type questions, reading and writing modules, and other IELTS practice tests.

There are various mock tests for the IELTS listening test, IELTS writing task, and other tasks on the MarvelIELTS.com website, and learn more about these exam sections. You can also visit our institute in Zirakpur, where our best IELTS teacher and other faculty can guide you.

For more information and updates, keep visiting the MarvelIELTS.com website.

Happy Learning!