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You may have heard from other IELTS test takers that the test can be difficult if you come unprepared on the exam day. Preparing for this exam requires that you focus on several different areas of English including:

  • Listening

  • Reading

  • Writing

  • Speaking

Before you start worrying, you need to remember the difficulty perceived will vary from one person to another. One person might tell you the Listening and Reading sections were the hardest, while someone else may say to you that the Writing and Speaking sections were the most challenging for them. How hard you find the IELTS exam will depend on how much you practise ahead of time, your particular learning style and your ability to retain what you learned. The best place to start your exam prep is to perform a self-assessment of the various examination areas.


The Listening section requires you to pay attention and listen to what's being said before answering the questions. Many people find this section one of the hardest if they haven't prepared ahead of time using test prep tools or by listening to English radio or watching English television shows.  


The Reading section has a one-hour time limit. You must answer 40 questions while reading over 2,000 words. People may find this section hard if they haven't practised their English vocabulary and have problems scanning and skimming the test texts. You'll want to spend time reading English books, newspapers and magazines to improve your scanning and skimming skills and your English vocabulary.


This section of the exam requires you to complete two writing tasks. What people find the most challenging is being able to write complete answers for each task within the allowed time limit. 

You only have a total of one hour to complete this section and you should allocate 20 minutes for the first task and 40 minutes for the second task. You must also satisfy the minimum number of words for each task. 


The speaking section might seem easy for many people if they've been practising speaking English on a regular basis. However, it's important to fully answer the questions and stay on topic while doing so. Straying from the main topic is where some people have difficulties. 

Practice exams

IDP Nigeria offers different IELTS practice tests that you can take as many times as you want to help prepare for your actual IELTS exam. You can use these to get a better idea of what areas are going to be more difficult for you and will require more study and preparation.

In any areas where you're struggling, you may want to seek outside help from a qualified tutor. As you improve your English skills in each of the exam areas, remember to retake practice tests to see if you find the sections less challenging to complete.

Please feel free to explore our website further for test preparation materials and practice tests or contact your nearest IDP IELTS Nigeria test centre directly.