How Long Should I Study for the IELTS?

How Long Should I Study for the IELTS - magoosh

In my last post, we looked at how many hours (daily and weekly) you should study for the IELTS. But how long should you study for the IELTS with your IELTS prep in total? For days? Weeks? Months? How much time is enough time to be IELTS ready? The answer to that question really depends on you.

How long should I study for the IELTS? This depends on your current level of English.

If you are highly proficient in English, you just might be able to prepare for the IELTS in a month or less. Highly skilled English users only need to focus their studies on test knowledge and strategy. And you can learn the structure of an exam and the best strategies for the exam pretty quickly.

Language skills, on the other hand, take a lot longer to build. If you are having trouble actually understanding IELTS reading passages or audio tracks, you need to really take the time to boost your comprehension. (You can see how comfortable you are with our vocabulary lesson video below.) And if you don’t speak English very clearly or find writing in English to be hard, you can’t improve these skills overnight. Boosting general language skills takes months, not days or weeks.

Different people learn their second language at different paces. Still, there are ways to guess at how long you might need to study. You can get a good idea of how long you should study by taking a practice IELTS and seeing what band you fall in. If you are one band below your target score, give yourself at least a month of study. So for instance, if you are getting a 7.5 on your practice IELTS tests but you need an 8.5 on test day, give yourself a minimum of a month.

If you  need to raise your score by more than one band, give yourself at least a month per band. that means that if you need an IELTS band 9 but are currently at a 7, you should study for two months or more. And if you must get from a 4.5 to a 7.5, study for a minimum of three months…and so on.

How long should I study for the IELTS? This depends on how much spare time you have for IELTS prep.

Another factor in the length of your IELTS prep period is the amount of hours you can study per day and week. You may have work, school, family obligations, or other responsibilities that take up your time. Or you may be on a break from work or school and have all day to study. These two situations are very different, in terms of how long you should study for the IELTS.

If you only have five hours a week for IELTS study, raising your IELTS score into the next band could take two or even three months of prep. At 10 or 15 hours a week, it still might take a little take more than a month to increase your score by a band. Once you start getting into the 20 plus range, a month per band may be all the time you need as you work to raise your IELTS score.

Now, it’s hard to raise your score by more than one band in a month no matter how much time you have. Prolonged practice is always necessary to improve second language skill. That being said, if you are one of the lucky IELTS preppers who has 40 hours a week to study for the exam, you just might be able to go up a band in less than a month. Likewise, if your language skills are good as is, the test strategy skills that you’ll need to boost your IELTS score could be mastered in three or even two weeks.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

Most Popular Resources


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!