So you’re feeling high-strung about your upcoming IELTS test and want some pointers to help you achieve good results? Well, calm those nerves and take a look at the following tips. They might not guarantee absolute success, but they will definitely take you a step closer to achieving your desired results.
Work through the test quickly
Test candidates commonly complain that they do not have sufficient time to complete the test, particularly in the reading and writing sections. So how do you overcome this problem?
One suggestion is to carry out an online search for speed reading techniques. There are plenty of brilliant tips discussed online. Use these tips, then do some IELTS papers and time yourself. If it is still taking too long, you may need more practice carrying out your speed reading techniques. You may also need to improve on your vocabulary. As a general rule of thumb, read as much and as widely as possible in the days leading up to the test.
Increasing your writing pace is not an easy task either. One way of speeding up your writing is to time yourself writing out bulks of paragraphs from a reading material. Try to avoid squeezing the pen. Just relax and use the pen smoothly.
For the listening test, listen to spoken English as much and as often as possible to get used to the language. Listen to an English radio channel or watch English films without reading the subtitles. You can also make a game out of it by hanging out with your friends. One particular group of friends have a small fine for anyone using a non-English word and the money gathered during the outing is eventually donated to charity.
Read test instructions thoroughly
The importance of reading the test instructions has been sorely underrated. In an attempt to complete the test on time, most candidates choose to skip reading this part of the test and immediately attempt to answer the questions once the timer starts. They fail to realise that the instructions may include clues that are crucial to how they answer the questions. For example, the instructions of the listening test may provide an important detail about the ‘conversation’, such as its location. Skipping through the instructions is not a timesaving technique. In fact, it might hurt your test scores.
Do not fall behind in the listening test
For the listening test, candidates do not have control over time. Bearing that in mind, try your best to keep up, but do not panic if other candidates start writing their answers without you. When you hear the sound of other candidates flipping over the page, do likewise. This may help you return to the right pace.
Answer all questions without exceptions
For both the listening and reading tests, there is a variety of questions ranging from multiple choice, short answers, gapfills and so on. If you are running out of time and you do not know the answer to a question, guess. Use logic to figure out the answer and write it in the style instructed. If you are wrong, no marks will be deducted. If you happen to guess right, you will earn some lucky points.
Don’t just give one-word answers in the speaking test
Take control of the speaking test. You can very easily determine your own success by being communicative and having a positive attitude. First impressions count, so do not simply answer the questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Elaborate on your answers and be eager as you talk. Keep in mind that you should be talking about 70-80% of the time. Show your tester that you are eloquent with your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Sit comfortably but do not slouch. It is also a good idea to sit while holding your hands on your lap to control your body movements. The examiner may come from a different cultural background so you should be aware of your body language.
Speak naturally when giving an introduction
Do not become a robot when you are asked to introduce yourself. Be friendly and speak naturally. If you are struggling with the speaking test, try writing a “2 minute me” on a piece of paper. Remember to include interesting information about yourself that will set you apart from the other candidates. Then practise speaking it in front of your friends and family before testing it on people you do not know. From this exercise, you will be able to discern how people react to your introduction. You will find out if it’s too boring, too unnatural and so on. When you are done, edit the content accordingly and try again.
Make adequate preparations before the test
Don’t brush this suggestion off as being too obvious. There have been far too many candidates showing up for the IELTS test with almost no preparation. One particular candidate, who had lived and studied in the United States for over four years, assumed he would score at least an 8.0, since he considered his level of English to be on par with the native speaker. However, he could only manage a 6.5 because he failed to understand what the test requires from him. Enrol in online courses to help you understand how the test works.
You may also consider enrolling in a reputable school such as ICON+, Singapore’s leading test preparation specialist. Over 85% of test prep students at ICON+ score higher than the worldwide average. With its team of highly trained teachers, a proven curriculum, patented e-learning systems, multi-media facilities and a full spectrum of post-prep services at its disposal, ICON+ guarantees to help students achieve excellent test results.
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