Students come to us asking this question all the time. To them, the test is an obstacle holding back their future plans. This is understandable. The answer, however, is not simple – it depends on a number of factors. The best way to improve your score is to immerse yourself in an English-speaking country and take intensive English classes there. How long depends on your current level of English.
Research has shown that around 3 months of intensive English study is needed to gain half a band score in the IELTS exam (Elder & O’Loughlin, 2003). The first step, then, is determine what level you are at. You can do this by taking a free test (or parts thereof) online or registering for a test at a testing centre. You will be tested in the following skills and then be given an overall score: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Many students that we see enter our programs fall around Band Level 5. Many university or college programs, however, require a 6 to enter with a 7 for graduate studies. In this case, given the research, it would probably take you 6 months of intensive language study (preferably in an English-speaking country) to gain one level of IELTS. If you are currently sitting at a Band 4, then it would take you at least a full year, maybe more - depending on your circumstances.
Of course, it always helps to have an inside edge into the secrets of the exam – this way you can prepare for the exam anticipating the most likely prompts/topics to appear. To learn more about our one-of-a-kind Inside Edge program, visit: www.ieltscourse.ca