Preparing for the IELTS Exam?
Here are some top tips to better prepare for it.
- Familiarise yourself with the test format and the timing of each part of the speaking and writing tests. Know what kinds of questions are asked in each part of the paper. Once you are familiar with the format, speak regularly with a partner and practise writing answers for the various types of writing questions.
- Record Yourself. The speaking test is recorded, so why not practise recording your answers so you will get used to it? You can play it later to correct your mistakes and monitor your progress. Most smart-phones have a recorder. Ask someone to listen to your recorded answer and ask them for general advice or comments on pronunciation, clarity and speed of your speaking, etc.
- Practise speaking at length. When you’re in class, give full answers to questions. Expand your answers. Practise giving 2–minute presentation-style answers. Make sure your ideas are well-organised and easy to follow. You can find sample speaking questions and answers by following the following link: http://www.examenglish.com/IELTS/IELTS_Speaking.htm
- Become familiar with the Speaking and Writing Criteria. Know what is expected of you and use this to guide you. You can find the public version of the IETLS Speaking and Writing Criteria by following the links below.
- Build your language. Slowly but surely! Learn topic-specific vocabulary, collocations, idiomatic expressions, etc. and learn how to use them correctly. The more specific vocabulary you use, the better! For example, instead of saying “She is a very good student.” Try “She is a hard-working, motivated and conscientious student.” You can learn new words from textbooks as well as from authentic media like newspapers, magazines, online articles, blogs, etc. Not only does reading improve your reading skills, it also improves your vocabulary and familiarises you with different grammar structures. Record new words and expressions and grammar structures in your notebook, revising and practicing using them regularly.
- Use a range of sentence structures accurately. “If I use a lot of complex structures, will I get better points in grammar?” Yes and No. One of the biggest mistakes students make in writing and speaking is trying to use overly complicated grammar and end making too many unnecessary mistakes. The key is using the right structure at the right time. When you have something simple to say, say it simply. Only use complex structures for more complex thoughts. Your writing must be easy to follow and easy to understand.
- Be a voracious reader! Read something new every day and read a variety of texts. Read for pleasure. Our brain generally learns better when it is not under pressure. Start with short texts and increase your reading to longer texts and articles. Don’t translate all unknown words you encounter. Train yourself to understand through the context. In the real exam, you will not have a dictionary to translate difficult words you encounter. When you do a mock IELTS reading test, time yourself and practise reading quickly.
- Listen, listen, and listen! As well as reading for pleasure, it is also important to listen for pleasure. Listen to the radio and podcasts. Watching films and TV shows is helpful, too. Try listening to something where you cannot see facial expressions or body language – just pure listening! When you do a mock IELTS listening test, pay attention to your mistakes in spelling and with singular and plural. Concentrate on eliminating them in the future. For listening practice, check out the site below.
- Practise writing by hand and write clearly! This will help you prepare for the day of the test. Download and try writing on the sample IELTS writing answer sheet from the link below. This will give you an idea what a 250-word essay will look like on the real writing answer sheet. On the day of your test, you will not have to spend much time doing a word count.
- The more you read, the better you write. Read as many model answers as you can. Compare them with your own writing and learn how your writing can be improved in terms of structure, vocabulary, grammar and even ideas! Ample model answers can be found on the link below.
Best of luck!