I know it can be hard to know what to responsibly PROMISE our IELTS learners when they are considering signing up to do their exam PREPARATION with us.

We do want to have enough students, after all…

Yet it’s important to be STRATEGIC about what RESULTS we say we can guarantee.

What worked for me when I was still actively teaching candidates was to 

0) find out which MODULE (i.e. General or Academic) they were targeting, and what BAND SCORES they needed in EACH (!) skill, as well as overall, and whether they had a DEADLINE in mind (e.g. a conditional job offer, a visa application date, etc.)

1) check their (CEFR) LEVEL (in a first, free lesson where I’d focus on their SPEAKING and LISTENING)

2) ask them to complete a MOCK EXAM (at home, to check their READING and WRITING, by noting the amount of TIME each test took them to complete as well, without a DICTIONARY),

3) and ask about any previous language EXAM experience and results (such as earlier attempts at IELTS or other exams, e.g. of Cambridge main suite).

From these parameters I could then see if it felt ‘DOABLE’ to take them on or not.

There were 2 scenarios:

Either they were ON LEVEL already, i.e. their level of ENGLISH in CEFR terms was at the band they were seeking (e.g. a student with a CEFR B2 level seeking a Band 6), in which case I could confidently say that IF they did the homework throughout (–and I’d tell them what to expect in terms of weekly hours here, namely usually the same amount of time as spent in class ) and came to X many classes per week they could take the exam in 2-4 months, depending on how much free time they had, the number of SKILLS with BELOW standard mock results (e.g. writing… :D), and just how much below these were,


if they WEREN’T ‘on level’ yet, I’d explain that they’d need to learn more LANGUAGE first (i.e. grammar, vocab, etc.), and that I would be happy to teach it to them, while ‘DRIP-FEEDING’ some IELTS stuff already. 

(In these cases I’d just make sure to be clear about a –usually much longer– time frame, and call this process their FAMILIARIZATION with the exam, NOT prep. ;))

What’s YOUR placement practice when taking on a new IELTS student?

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Hi. I’m Fatime. I’m an IELTS Teacher Trainer, helping CELTA-qualified English language teachers become better at teaching SKILLS, as opposed to just testing them. 

Check out my courses here:

How to Teach IELTS Listening:

How to Teach IELTS Reading:

How to Teach IELTS Writing:

How to Teach IELTS Speaking: