IELTS can be Emotional

IELTS can be emotional for many people for various reasons. In this post, I want to discuss why emotions can bubble over before and during the IELTS test.

The reason I am writing this test to to reassure students that it is normal for emotions to run high in the test. Below are three common problems with emotions and crying in the IELTS test.

1) IELTS is Important for your Future

For many students, the IELTS test is the key to their future. Without a good score, many students are unable to take the next step towards creating a better life for themselves. For this reason, emotions can run high when it comes to IELTS.

However, you should not tackle IELTS with emotions. This is a specific language test with specific rules and specific requirements. You need to tackle IELTS logically and calmly. You must ensure you are fully prepared before you walk into the exam room.

Here are some steps to prepare for IELTS:

  1. Have a realistic goal. Don’t aim for band 7 if your English contains so many mistakes.
  2. Learn as much as you can about the test. What can take into the test room? How does the examiner mark writing task 1? Learn as much as you can:
    1. IELTS Test Information
    2. IELTS Band Scores Explained
  3. Practice each type of question for L, R, W & Sp.
  4. Review model answers for IELTS speaking and writing .
  5. Prepare common topics for speaking and writing.
    1. IELTS Listening Practise & Tips
    2. IELTS Reading Practise & tips
    3. IELTS Writing Task 1 Practise, Tips & Model Answers
    4. IELTS Writing Task 2 Practise, Tips & Model Answers
    5. IELTS Speaking Practise, Tips & Model Answers
    6.  Recent IELTS Exam Questions
  6. Watch my free video: How to Prepare for IELTS (click to open)
  7. Don’t keep taking the test again and again. Review your techniques, review your English and work on your weaknesses before taking the test again.  Make sure the next time you take the test, you have improved.
    Quote Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

2) Crying in the Speaking Test

I have known students cry in their IELTS speaking test. The most common reason is that they start talking about painful memories which upset them.

This is a language test and a chance to showcase your English. You must think in this way when you enter the test room. All students will be nervous in the test and also emotional to some extent. Students feel pressure to perform and feel the pressure to get good results. This can make you emotional.

In part 2, if the question is about a person you admire, don’t choose to talk about someone who recently died and who you loved. It will distract you from thinking about your English and bring up painful emotions. If you cry in the IELTS test, the examiner CANNOT give you more time. So, be wise in your choices and choose to talk about someone else. Avoid talking about sad memories or difficult personal issues.

If you get emotional in the test, take a deep breathe and hear my words “This is your test! Take control of your test! Take control of your future! Say to the examiner “I’m ready to continue” and then focus on the question – you can do it !!!” I want you to hear my voice, relax and ace your test! My best wishes will always be with you.

3) Problems in L, R, & W

The most common problem in the IELTS listening test is losing your place. This is because students try to understand everything rather than listen for answers and follow key words.

In IELTS reading, I have heard of students crying because they didn’t write their answers directly on the answer sheet. You DO NOT get an extra 10 mins to transfer your answers.

In IELTS writing, the most common reason students get upset is because they didn’t mange their time and failed to complete both tasks. There is a clock in the room and you should keep checking the time. The examiner DOES NOT tell you when to move from task 1 to task 2. You must manage your time for both tasks in the hour provided.

Share your Experiences

Feel free to write a comment and share your experiences of the IELTS test with other students.

  Thanks, Liz

Summing Up Emotions

  1. Be realistic about your expectations in IELTS. If your English is only intermediate level, don’t expect to get band score 7 or 8. This is a language test, tips will only take you to your own personal maximum – not above.
  2. Don’t get over tired. Pace yourself, schedule your practise.
  3. Before the speaking test, get plenty of rest.
  4. In the speaking test, don’t talk about emotional issues or sad memories. This is a language test, make the right decisions so that you can showcase your English.
  5. The examiner can’t give you extra time if you cry in the speaking test. Try to calm down and focus on the next question. Say to the examiner “I’m fine to continue” or “Sorry, I can continue now.”
  6. In LR&W, go to the toilet before the test – you will miss answers and lose time if you go to the toilet during the test.
  7. In the listening test, pay attention to key words and be ready to move to the next question so you don’t lose your place. Always check if there are questions on the next page.
  8. In reading, don’t forget you DON’T get extra time to transfer your answers!! Don’t forget this!
  9. In writing, keep your eye on the clock! Don’t spend more than 20 mins in task 1 and don’t spend more than 40 mins on task 2.  Always write an overview for task 1 and a conclusion for task 2.

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  1. I cried today as l was talking about “a lie l was told that affected me “couldn’t answer section 2 .and no time was added .l feel terrible wish l had saud something different .thought l was ready to talk about my mom but l wasn’t She died one year ago and l haven’t been able to talk to anyone about her death guess that’s why l lost it during the exam .im yet to write the rest of the exam in a few days and I’ve already registered another test for next month

    • I’m so sorry. IELTS can bring up a lot of hidden emotion at an inconvenient time. Sounds like you needed to let it out and have a cry – I completely understand. For the rest of the exam, continue to take it seriously and put all your effort into it. It’s still worth pushing ahead. And for your next full IELTS test, you’ll know to be more strategic in your speaking test – it’s all about choosing easy answers and chattering like speaking to a friend. I wish you lots of luck!! Thank you for sharing your story xxx

  2. Liz Oyenusi says

    Hi Liz.I just want to say a big “thank you” for your invaluable lessons.Even though English Language is the official language in my country, Nigeria, I still felt a bit nervous knowing that IELTS is a structured test and one needs to pay attention to the rules in order to get a desired score.After going through your lessons and other materials, I felt a lot more confident and was also able to calm my nerves to a large extent before my IELTS Academic test 2 Saturdays ago. Am excited to let you know that I got an overall band score of 8.5 ( 8.5 in Listening, Reading & Speaking and 7.5 in writing. Teachers like you are an encouragement and worth emulating.Keep up the good work.

    • Fantastic!!! That’s such a great score 🙂 I hope you are really proud of your achievement ! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

      • Liz Oyenusi says

        Thanks Liz. I am sure proud. Also grateful.I must say I learnt a lot of tips about teaching by visiting your site.

  3. hii lizz… ur tips and techniques were very useful for me… as i got 7 bands… especially the topic of shoes in ielts introductry questions was told by you in advance in the possible topics of feb month… i was surprised to see it during my exam.. rhanx alottt

  4. Thanks Liz for all the tips, advices and reminders.
    By the way, can’t help but to share and to let you know that you are so famous. While Im waiting for my turn for verification, I heard the ladies talking about some of your lesson. Though I really wanted to join on their exciting conversation, I remain quiet and thinking of the linking words (from your posts) that I might need to use in writing.
    Hopefully, we will get the band-score we’re aiming.
    I’ll let you know mine. *finger-crossed 🙂

    • That’s funny. I’m glad you remained focused and tried to remember everything you might need for the test. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you all 🙂

  5. Jaimin parmar says

    I am jaimin from India I a man very thankful to madam for their expert advice I had gave exam first time in January and score 6 band not less than 5.5.
    Yes it is really important to manage our emotions.Particularly in speaking section. Be normal it’s nothing but conversation in perfect English language.

    Thank you thank you thank you… To IELTS LIZ

  6. Thanks for your tips Liz, It’s very helpful 🙂
    I will take my IELTS test next month, I hope I can do my best and get a better score 🙂

  7. Thanks Liz. It’s very true that tips will only help to get maximum score of own ability. I just finished my exam on 13th may. I was very sick so it was very difficult to concentrate on reading. Will update my questions .

  8. Hi Liz, thank you for your suggestions and the Information that you give the students to prepare themselves better for the IELTS 😊 I finally done with IELTS test, I have to wait for the result.

  9. Hello Liz
    Thank you so much ..
    I have learnt so many things from your page !!
    and I got 6 band in examination 🙂

  10. Karshigul says

    Hi, teacher Liz
    Thank you for your magic lessons and advice.
    I really love your all lessons and because of these I feel the real exam environment although it is going to be my 1st exam next month.
    Thanks so much again 😊😊😊

  11. DearLiz,


  12. Can you take notes in your own language for any part of the tests?


    Hi Liz,

    Amazing analysis … appreciate your article. Definitely it gives us tremendous confidence. Tomorrow is my IELTS exam..


  14. Fritz Roy says

    Thanks so much Liz for sharing your expertise in IELTS. The article remind me when I took the exam and how was quite nervous during the speaking test. So my suggest that test taker had better control their emotions and focus on understanding the questions.

  15. One more reason why IELTS makes me emotional is that since I have hearing problem, I need special arrangement arranged by exam council which always takes 3 months. Most of the people could take the test for weekly basis but if I do not get the required score in this time which means I have to wait another 3 months! That really makes me restless during taking the exam.. :'(

    • That certainly puts more pressure on you. But thinking positively – at least you can take the test and do well 🙂 There are so many students who don’t even get the chance. I wish you lots of luck 🙂

  16. Hi Liz,
    Although i have never make comment on your blog but i have learned very many profound lessons from you and they are very helpful.
    Tomorrow is my L, R, W and Sp test and hopefully i will do my best.

  17. Liz,
    Thank you very much for your invaluable tips, your selfless demeanor is worth emulating.

  18. Very helpful advice, thanks to you liz. Next week will be my IELTS exam,hoping for the best. Goodluck ielts takers 😉

  19. Musab Turk says

    Hello Liz
    I can’t get enough of saying thank you for your work and lessons
    you mentioned crying, ok let’s say the opposite of crying
    can being little funny or just showing that I am really enjoying the conversation and react depended on the story I tell could increase my score
    and another thing, using some only some slang so not being 100% formal, so it that ok ?

    • Definitely enjoy your speaking test!!! Yes, you can be funny from time to time but try to remember this is about showing your English language so don’t get lost in humour. Being humorous won’t increase your score but good English will. The speaking test isn’t formal – it is informal 🙂

  20. This article extremely beneficial thanks Liz

  21. This article was extremely useful! Thank you Liz for your hard work and support! 🙂 Wishing everyone good luck! Hope you guys find the confidence you need.

  22. Abdinasir says

    Thank you so much Liz.
    What a nice advice for IELTS takers like me. This is really inspiring and helpful. I will keep in my mind, this is my test.

  23. Thanks Liz, that’s absolutely useful reminder of tough things we need to know before taking IELTS test.

    One again thanks for your enthusiasm Liz!

  24. Sorry it will be “last but not the least ” typographical error

  25. Absolutely perfect tips. My experience says IELTS is an exam of skills,concentration,perfection and last but not the list English proficiency.So more methodical and strategic you are more will be your chance to reach your coveted spot

  26. Hi Liz
    I just did my speaking exam today
    The questions are the following:
    Can you tell me your name
    Where you came from?
    Can you tell me about your hometown
    Do you have dream?Do you remember them when you get up?
    Do you prefer to have many or 1-2 friend?why?

    In my cue card:
    Can you tell about politeness
    Whom have you seen politeness
    In what way have seen
    Discuss what she did.

    Tomorrow will be my listening and writing exam
    I am just hoping for the best result

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