Different shades of blue fan from the the left of the screen to the right to mimic winds in the sky. The picture symbolises the need to stay calm in the IELTS exam

How to stay calm in your IELTS test

We all know the IELTS exam is a high-stakes exam: it’s often the only barrier that stands between a student and their new life. Test-takers spend a lot of time and effort preparing for the exam and, as a result, exam day can feel very high-pressure. Plus, IELTS is expensive! Nobody wants to pay those fees more than once! But, one of the most important things you can do on exam day is TRY TO STAY CALM🧘‍♀️.

Yes, Shelly, I can hear you say, that’s easy to say but HOW?! How can you “stay calm” in your IELTS test when you can feel your heart beating in your chest. Well, as somebody who also suffers from high-levels of stress and anxiety, here are some techniques that I personally use before exams. Maybe one might help you:

Top 5 Tips to Avoid IELTS Exam Day Stress 

  1. Remember that on exam day, you have almost no control over what will happen. You can’t choose what type of essay you will have to write, you don’t know what topic you will get in your speaking exam, you have no say over how many T/F/NG questions you will be given in the reading test – SO STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT. Whatever you are given, you will do your best – and that is all you can do. The IELTS exam is a great test of your level of English. It is rare that students truly underperform. Just trust your preparation and do your best.
  2. If you find your heart-rate rising during the exam, or you start to panic, then try the 4, 7, 8 breathing technique: Breathe in through your NOSE for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Breath out through your MOUTH for 8 seconds. Seriously, this technique is a wonderful way to control your nreves. It seems to work like magic on me when I am stressed. I always used it before I played in a big golf competition and even though my heart was still racing, I definitely felt calmer and more in control.
  3. When you enter the exam tomorrow, take a look around the room at the other candidates – they are in the same position as you. You are not alone! I find this very comforting in an exam. EVERYONE is nervous. It’s OK to feel scared, but you are not the only person in the room feeling that way. 🙌 I always take great comfort in feeling part of a group – even if it’s a group that’s feeling stressed and under pressure!
  4. Get some sleep! 💤 Sleep is by far the best way to prepare for a big test. It’s too late to really learn anything the night before the exam, so the best thing you can do is get as much sleep as possible. If you really have to do something, then by all means read through your old notes or remind yourself of some vocabulary, BUT THAT’S IT! Definitely, don’t do a full listening or reading test late the night before, or start writing more essays! Save your energy for the exam. 🔋Go to bed, get 7-8 hours sleep, and feel fresh on exam day! 🛌
  5. Finally, and this may sound hard to accept, but if you don’t get the result you need, the world won’t come to an end. Life is full of opportunities. You can probably apply to take the test again, or find a different path to your future. The IELTS exam might seem big, but it is only a small part of your life. Whatever your result, it won’t define you as a person or stop you achieving your goals a few weeks down the line. Putting the exam into perspective can really help. 🚀

If you are struggling with exam stress, PLEASE listen to my interview with Psychologist Beverly Beverley A’Court who gives simple techniques for dealing with exam-day nerves:

So, those are MY top tips for how to stay calm in your IELTS test. Do you have any techniques you use? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments below! And, if you do fail, then you can always message me for help and support. Namaste 🧘

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