1. Identify why you need an IELTS certificate:
Possible reasons may include studying and working in a country where English is the most common language of communication or visiting your family and relatives on a long-term basis.
2. Learn which IELTS module you should take:
There are two IELTS modules, including the Academic and General Training module. You should sit the Academic exam if you want to live or study for a long-term in a foreign country where proof of English proficiency is needed, whereas the General Training is suitable for immigrants, people taking part in manual work or short-term training courses.
3. Decide when and where you would like to take the test:
You should take the IELTS exam where you feel most comfortable with. This can be a city near your college and must not necessarily be your home country. With respect to the date of test, my advice is that you should understand your work or study plans and then come up with an expected test date.
For example, back in 2014 when I started my study in the UK, I chose to sit the IELTS exam in March 2014 because my course began in September. This time lag gave me plenty of time to apply for a place of study at my expected colleges and immigration VISA.
Register the IELTS exam here.
4. Come up with a clear and doable revision plan:
Without a strict revision plan, you are unlikely to focus on revising for your upcoming exam because of factors of interruption such as mobile phones and online games. However, try to make a plan that is clear, followable and not too detailed.
I had taken the IELTS exam three times in my lifetime. Three to four months before the test date, I always made a revision plan. It consisted of what content and topics (such as Listening and Writing Task 1 ) I would revise on different days of the week, what actions I needed to take (such as writing at least 2 Writing Task 1 essays in less than 15 minutes each) and other non-IELTS steps to improve my general English such as watching at least 1 documentary film on YouTube.
The important thing after having a plan is that you must follow it no matter how tough this can be.
5. Find useful and reliable sources for your revision:
If you do not have time or can not find any physical (offline) language schools to revise for the IELTS exam, then do not worry. The growth of the Internet has made this a problem of the past. Below I would like to give you a number of useful and reliable sources for your revision (in addition to my website, of course) that will make your home-revision a free and enjoyable experience:
Just search Sample IELTS Listening questions or Sample IELTS Listening tests on YouTube.com and you will see a lot of sample questions and tests that represent the real IELTS Listening exam.
Just search Documentary or Documentary films on YouTube.com again and you can find many documentaries to improve your Listening skills and social understanding.
Other YouTube channels that I subscribed to and watched their videos regularly: The White House, CNN, BBC and Vox. (4 or 5 channels to listen to regularly are enough)
Sample Reading questions and texts: There are many on my website and the list is regularly updated.
Global reading contexts: Try to read online newspapers, magazines and blogs in English everyday. Some options for you are: GatesNotes, The Telegraph, Correspondent AFP, Business Insider and Reuters. Make notes of how authors write those articles grammatically. This will significantly improve your English vocabulary and grammar.
c. Writing and Speaking:
For these two sections, it is not easy to mark your own work. Here are some options you can choose to improve your IELTS Writing and Speaking scores:
Use a timer and recorder to record your Speaking answers. Listen to them over time to understand your progress.
Use personal assistant tools (such as Siri for Apple users and Google Now for Android users) to learn if you can pronoun English correctly. If not, Siri or Google Now will not perform your commands.
Be a member of online forums and groups on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to find a Speaking buddy. This method helps both of you.
Find a teacher or former IELTS candidate (with good scores) to submit your Writing essays for correction.