Breaking News

Losing your motivation for IELTS? Here’s how to get it back!


When are you planning to take your IELTS test? What is your target band score? How long do you think it will take you to achieve it? Weeks? Months? Years???

If you’re going for a high band score, your goal may seem far away–especially if you need to improve your English level significantly to get there. It may seem like a long and difficult journey. It’s easy to lose motivation along the way. Many people do. It’s normal. But in order to succeed, you need to stay motivated.

Here’s how to keep yourself motivated when you need it the most. This is something I do with all students at the beginning of my IELTS classes. You can do it by yourself. Just follow the steps below. All you need is a pen, some paper, and your imagination!

Step 1: Visualize success

Why are you taking the IELTS exam? What is your long-term goal? Maybe you’re doing it so you can get into a good English speaking university. Maybe you’re doing it for a job. Whatever your reason, you’re taking IELTS because you hope it will lead you to a better future. What does that future look like? A good career, a good salary, success, happiness…? You need to picture it in your mind as strongly as you can.

Ask yourself the following questions. Close your eyes after each question and picture your answer. See the colors, hear the sounds…smell the smells!

Imagine it’s 10 years in the future. You’ve passed your IELTS exam, and you got the score you wanted. Even higher than you wanted! Well done! You can now speak English fluently. You study on the program you wanted. You got the job you wanted. What is your life like now?

  • What do you do? What’s your job? Do you like it?
  • Where do you live? What does your house look like? 
  • How is your relationship with your family? Do you have a family of your own? What are they like?
  • What do you wear to work? How do you travel to work?
  • What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies? 
  • How do people treat you? Do they look up to you?

How do you feel about your successful life?

Close your eyes. Take a few minutes to picture your successful future. Hopefully it’s a good one!

Step 2: Visualize failure

Picturing your successful is a great way to motivate yourself. But there’s one more trick to make this motivation even more powerful: visualize failure. What will your life look like if you don’t achieve your score on the IELTS? Again, ask yourself the following questions. Again, close your eyes and really picture the scene–the sights, the sounds and the smells.

Imagine it’s 10 years in the future. But this time you didn’t pass your IELTS exam. Maybe you didn’t study enough, maybe you never took it. You’ve stopped learning English. You hardly ever speak English now, and you’ve forgotten almost all of it. You didn’t get to study in the program you wanted, and you didn’t get the job you wanted. You did something else. What is your life like now?

  • What do you do? What’s your job? Do you like it?
  • Where do you live? What does your house look like?
  • How is your relationship with your family? Do you have a family of your own? What are they like?
  • What do you wear to work? How do you travel to work?
  • What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies? 
  • How do people treat you? Do they look up to you?

How do you feel about your life now?

Hopefully your future without IELTS is still a good one! But it’s probably different in some way. And it’s probably missing some of the things that you imagined before.

Think about all the things that you’ll miss in your future if you don’t achieve your goals. This will help to keep you motivated.

Step 3: Set goals

So in the first image, you achieved your IELTS score. In the second, you didn’t. Is there a big difference between the two images of your future? For most people there is.

How can you get from here to there? How can you make your first, successful image a reality? Now is the time to set clear and specific goals that will help you achieve your IELTS score. What do you need to work on? Do you need to improve your pronunciation? Boost your vocabulary? Work on your writing skills? Learn more about the exam? Find a suitable course or a study group?

Make your goals specific. Include a time when you will achieve them.

For example:

I will learn five new words every day.

I will record myself speaking and listen to it again to practice my pronunciation once a week.

I will join an IELTS course next month.

Give yourself a manageable number of goals: 5 is a good number. Much more than that, and it will be overwhelming. Whatever you decide, write them down. Don’t just think about your goals. Write then down on a piece of paper. Then put this paper someplace where you will see it regularly. Maybe on the wall in your bedroom, or maybe in your notebook for school.

The journey toward your target IELTS score might be long. Every time you start to lose your motivation, remind yourself of your images of success–and your images of failure. Remember why you’re studying for the IELTS. Remember the future you want to create yourself. And then work on the goals that will get you there.