Wear a watch

Wear a watch during your IELTS test, but don't use a /smartphone or a smart-watch which is not allowed to be taken in an exam hall. At the beginning of the test, synchronise your watch with the one provided in the exam hall. Now, check the time (or start a chronometer on your watch to count the minutes), and check the time after each passage or every few questions to make sure you are “on schedule.” Remember that on the Listening and Reading Modules, you have a little over half a minute for each question. If you can work quickly, you can pace yourself at half a minute per question, which makes it easy to keep track of your time and let you finish your exam in time.

If you notice you are falling behind time during the test, you must speed up. Even though a rushed answer is more likely to be incorrect, it is better to miss a question or two by being rushed, than to completely miss later sections by not having enough time. It is better to end with more time than you need than to run out of time. If you are forced to speed up, do it efficiently. Usually, one or more answer choices can be eliminated without too much difficulty. Above all, don’t panic.

Don’t speed up from panic and just don't begin guessing at random choices. By pacing yourself, and continually monitoring your progress against the clock or your watch, you will always know exactly how far ahead or behind you are with your available time. If you find that you are a few minutes behind on a module, don’t skip questions without spending any time on it, just to catch back up. Spend perhaps a little less than half a minute per question and after a few questions, you will have caught back up more gradually. Once you catch back up, you can continue working each problem at your normal pace. If you have time in the end, go back then and finish the questions that you left behind.

Furthermore, don’t dwell on the problems that you were rushed on. If a problem was taking up too much time and you made a hurried guess, it must have been difficult. The difficult questions are the ones you are most likely to miss anyway, so it isn’t a big deal. If you have time left over, as you review the skipped questions, start at the earliest skipped question, spend at most another half a minute, and then move on to the next question.

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