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Tell the truth. Are you lying about the IELTS exam?

Or worse, are you telling those lies to other students?

As an IELTS teacher I have heard many students share advice that, as an IELTS examiner, I know is in incorrect. In this post I would like to debunk three common IELTS myths.

LIE #1: I will get a different score if I take the test a different center. (Also known as ‘I will get a different score at a center run by IDP than if I take the test at a British Council Center.’)

A LOT of students believe this one.

I remember I had a student who really wanted a 5.5, so she took the test at three different centers. She got 5.0 at the first center, a 5.0 at the second one, and a 5.0 at the third center.

“Hmmm,” I said. “What do you think that tell you about your IELTS level?”

THE TRUTH: It makes almost NO difference where you take your exam. NONE.


IELTS uses the same training for all writing and speaking examiners regardless of where the examiners work, and they use the same examiner training materials at all centers. All examiners must use and follow the same marking criteria. Writing and Speaking examiners are regularly monitored to make sure they are all doing this correctly. And the reading and listening tests are all marked with the same score sheet.

Whether you take your IELTS exam in Los Angeles or Lisbon, the test is marked in exactly the same the same way.

Additionally, many examiners do work at more than one center - it’s entirely possible for the same examiner to mark your work at two separate centers!

It is true that your score might vary by .5 on two different tests taken at two different centers. But this is normal variation that could easily happen just on two different days.

If you really want to get the score you want, you need to study and practice!


LIE #2: If I want a good score on speaking and or writing, I should memorize answers

Many people think the way to get a good score is to memorize sample answers for the writing and/or speaking test. A lot of websites post questions they say are from IELTS tests, and offer students prepared answers they can use during the exam and to get a higher score.

THE TRUTH: This is a terrible idea! And it doesn’t work.

Firstly, IELTS speaking questions change for every single speaking exam on test day, and the test questions themselves change regularly.

It is extremely unlikely you will get even ONE set of questions that are the same as the ones you memorized.

IELTS writing questions also change with every exam. Even if you’re lucky enough to get a similar question to the one you memorized, you will get a lower score with a memorized answer because you won’t be answering the essay question, you’ll be answering the question you memorized.

The best way to prepare for IELTS speaking and writing is to PRACTICE speaking and writing!

Practice speaking in English with friends or with your classmates. Practice writing essays or reports.

Another good idea is to learn vocabulary related to some of the topics that frequently appear in IELTS writing and speaking, such as the environment, business and the arts.


LIE #3: I should just keep taking IELTS until I get the score I want

When students take the IELTS exam, they usually have a score they would like to get. If they don’t achieve this score, some students think that the best way to finally get their desired score is to just to take the exam again and again until they finally get the mark they want.

THE TRUTH: Be careful not to waste your money! It is true that if you don’t get your desired score, you should take the exam again.

But you should wait about 12 weeks between exams. The reason is that it takes time to improve language ability. Most English language experts agree it takes about three months to move .5 band on the IELTS test.

So taking the test every few weeks probably won’t make a difference to your score.

Instead, use the time between tests to practice the areas you need to work on! This is what will really make the difference and help you get the score you want.


The truth is there is no magic secret to IELTS. The best way to get the score you want is to improve your English, become familiar with the test, and to practice, practice, practice!

BounceEnglish can help! Be sure to visit our website at for more advice and for downloadable language courses!

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