How to concentrate during your exam


1. Be physically and mentally prepared

Let’s face it IELTS exams can be stressful. But what even more stressful is walking into an academic IELTS exam unprepared knowing that you are going to do badly.

Be physically healthy:

Eat well. Get regular exercise while you study. Get up every 30 minutes or so. Go out and walk around every day. Ideally, go for a jog, swim, or a long walk outdoors.

Not only will you have more energy, this will enable you to maintain intense IELTS study for weeks, or even months.

Be familiar with the IELTS exam:

Make sure that you spend a significant time making yourself familiar with all the parts of a typical IELTS test.

At the minimum, this means doing some practice tests. Ideally, you will do a course that gives you a mix of task practice, language development and feedback.

For many IELTS Students, if you need a 6 or a 7, this means months or preparation. For some of you, this will mean focusing on a weak area, such as writing.

Knowing exactly what kinds of questions you will get will mean you are mentally prepared for IELTS exam. Your mind will stay focused and you will not daydream or “turn off” during hard-to-follow listening or reading questions.

Get a good night’s sleep for several days before hand

You need to naturally wake up on the day of the exam.

You can do this by setting your bedtime to make sure that you get plenty of rest before the day of the IELTS exam. Most phones have a bedtime function, or timer. Use this!

Being tired will only help you lose your concentration.

Don’t stay up late cramming for the IELTS exam!

2. Maintain a good diet (with supplements if needed)

Eat well

Here is a quick list of what you should be (and should not be!) doing….

  • Eat ‘brain’ food: Proteins from lean meat, fish and eggs, fruit, nuts and whole grains are foods that help keep the brain mentally alert. …
  • Eat smaller meals more often. …
  • Keep caffeine to a minimum. …
  • Avoid sugar!

If you want to know more, here is a good article on how to eat well for IELTS preparation.

Consider supporting your diet with concentration supplements

Studying for days, weeks and months, makes it hard to stay focused on getting your IELTS 6.5, IELTS 7, or IELTS 7.5.

Most of us need some help. And for most people the two choices are coffee and tea.

Like we already said, coffee (and to some extent tea) can cause problems on exam day. Too much regular and strong coffee makes it difficult to sleep and to stay still.

Personally, I find coffee often makes me feel “jerky” – sort of unsettled. 

If you are struggling for focus, try Noocube. This is a caffeine-free concentration enhancer.


(Even the bottle looks good)

3. Take it easy on the day

Have a good breakfast on the day!

I understand that some people do not enjoy breakfast. However, you will need the energy. If you do not have a regular breakfast, keep it small but get something in you!

Get to the test in plenty of time

This may sound obvious but many forget. Things often go wrong when we are stressed or worried. Getting up early (but naturally – see above about getting into a good rhythm).

Go to the bathroom immediately

As soon as you get to the IELTS exam, go to the bathroom. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable! Not only is this a distraction, but many other IELTS candidates also need to go to the bathroom. Don’t wait in a queue!

Drink regular water

Many IELTS exams are in hot countries with air-conditioning. This means you can easily become dehydrated. Avoid this by regularly drinking water.

Don’t worry too much about one question

Unless you are amazing (IELTS 8 or IELTS 9), you will get some questions wrong. Don’t worry about it! Just think to yourself – “this is a  hard question”. Move on, and if you have time, you can come back and have another go.

Remember you can take the IELTS exam again!

It is a little expensive, but most IELTS candidates take the exam at least twice. Often the first time is a bit of shock, and then IELTS students realise there are some things they need to work on.

Diet and exercise is vital
Get cooking! Try some complex carbohydrates. Make sure you exercise regularly – stick to your plan! (Oh, and don’t forget to check out Noocube. It might be just what you need.

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