Many students reading this blog will be preparing for the IELTS exam. If you’re looking for iron-clad, sure-fire ways to pass, or a series of shortcuts, then I’m afraid I’m here to shatter your dreams!
But once you awaken from that dream, I will hopefully brighten your day and make it a little less stressful, with a few IELTS test preparation tips so that you have a better chance of passing the exam.
IELTS tests your ability at each of the four major language skills – speaking, reading, writing and listening. So let’s look at each area and pass on advice from students who have scored exceptionally well at it.
Before we get on to the four modules, a general tip for everyone:
- Know your strengths and weaknesses…and work on your weaknesses. Fall down in one of the four modules and you fail the exam, so you need to have a rounded approach to the language, be honest with yourself and bring your weak areas up to par.
Practice a lot, record it on your iPhone and play it back to yourself and others, if possible, to help assess your level and suggest where you can improve.
One mistake many students make is to speak too fast; slow and clear is a better approach. Speak with grammatical accuracy and try to use a good range of vocabulary.
In this module you will have to write an essay. Remember the 4 C’s with essay writing – that’s conciseness, cohesion, coherence and composition.
Examiners will be looking at each of these areas, so keep sentences short and readable; make sure they flow well together by using linking phrases (“because of”, “as you can see…” etc); make sure your ideas are easily understood by the reader; and ensure you structure your essay correctly, with an introduction, main body and discussion (with examples) and a summary and/or conclusion at the end.
This module may take a lot of practice for some students and it’s important to read sample essays and to get your progress in essay-writing monitored.
Many students waste time in this module – something they cannot afford to do. When reading through passages here try to “skim read” first and underline keywords and phrases to get a general idea of the passage first.
You can tackle it section by section, reading a few questions at a time, finding the answers to all the questions relating to a particular passage, before moving on to the next.
Having to re-read whole texts to find the answer to a single question will waste time, so come up with a strategy that works best for you, when you do the sample reading tests.
To succeed in this section it is important to be relaxed and focused. Some students blow it by becoming flustered at missing an answer; you will do better by accepting it and staying focused to listen to the next section.
Practice listening to as many different accents as possible, so that you are not confused by the accents used in the actual listening test you take.
Test yourself under exam conditions so that you are better prepared for the real thing. Practice all four modules without a break repeatedly until it’s “second nature” to you.
Wherever possible, immerse yourself in the language on a daily basis as much as you can – tell friends that you will only talk English with them for the next three days. See what they say!
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can practice listening to English and even speaking and recording it, wherever you are. There are many language-learning tools available to us now – it’s not just about getting your head into books!
If you feel you need to build confidence, there is a host of English courses in Singapore that is specifically geared to preparing you for the IELTS exam.
While some it is hard work, preparing for IELTS should be fun and relaxing, not stressful or a chore; the more relaxed you are the better you will fare when you take the exam. Good luck!
Are you taking the IELTS test soon? Check out our free report. You will find a lot more tips and strategies to be well prepared when taking the test. You can download it here.