The simplest answer to this question is: put in the eﬀort. If this means setting your alarm for 5 AM, and studying for an hour each day before you go to work, that’s what you have to do.
Here are six days in a week. Write in time you can spend each day on IELTS prep. Be realistic, but also don’t be lazy.
For most candidates, reading needs to be a priority. Not only is reading tested in IELTS, but as mentioned previously, vocabulary is learnt most eﬀectively through reading.
Twenty minutes’ reading in English every day will dramatically improve your IELTS score. It doesn’t matter what kinds of things you read: football, Indian cookery, the lives of insects, as long as you’re practising. Use a dictionary only once or twice a day. Just absorb and enjoy. (Use the Reading Log on page 444.) It’s a good idea to take IELTS as soon as you can. This lets you see what your level is. You may be pleasantly surprised and discover you only need to work on one skill for your ‘real’ test, but it’s more likely you’ll be shocked, and panic.
You may also need to buy some more books, perhaps for grammar or vocabulary. There are plenty to choose from.
Some IELTS candidates like to ﬁnd a buddy, a friend who is also taking the test, to work with. It’s fun to compete, testing each other on new vocabulary, for instance; or doing the practice tests together under exam conditions. Learning needs feedback, which means you don’t learn until someone tells you what your mistakes are, so if your buddy can also do this – in the nicest way possible – then that’s excellent.
Of course IELTS is a major exam, but there is life after IELTS whether you get the band you need or not. You won’t stop learning English just because you get a Six. It’s likely your new job, or the course you’re doing in another country, will prove more challenging than this one exam.