The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration, with over 3 million tests taken in the last year. IELTS assesses all of your English skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking, and is designed to reflect how you will use English at study, at work, and at play, in your new life abroad.
The IELTS is developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment. It has an excellent international reputation, and is accepted by over 10,000 organisations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies.
The decision to take the IELTS is one that should not be taken lightly. While IELTS no longer has a validity date, many universities will only accept IELTS results if the test was taken within a certain amount of time (for example no longer than two years previously). It is for this reason that most students, whether taking the actual test OR taking a preparatory course know precisely 1) which institute will be requiring the results; and 2) exactly what result they need to achieve on the 1-9 point scale. Learn more about IELTS.
TOP TIPS for IELTS
- Demonstrate your range of language
Many students incorrectly believe that only the accuracy of their language is being measured during the production phases of the exam (Speaking and Writing). This is false. One could write an error-free essay or speak flawlessly but if the language that is being utilized is of an incredibly simple nature then the examiner will give the candidate a poor assessment. If a higher band (7 or 8) is required then a candidate needs to demonstrate a certain richness of vocabulary and the ability to convey ideas in an eloquent way leaving a good impression.
- Be Mindful of the Time
Watches are not allowed in the test room but there will be a clock on the wall and certain sections of the IELTS exam have suggested time allowances. The time limits will be strictly adhered to so make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time to finish the tasks, especially during the writing.
- ABS – Always Be Speaking
It is important to remember that the Speaking Part of the exam is a chance to show off your abilities and range of language. Try to avoid answering questions with one word answers. The question: “Do you like living in a big city?” should never be answered with a simple “Yes.” A more appropriate answer would be: “I really like living in the city because there are just so many things to do. The recreational possibilities are endless. One can enjoy the theatre, cinemas, countless cafés and pubs and there are even plenty of green areas where you can go and feed some ducks if you like.”
- Watch the Speaking Part on YouTube
YouTube has a LOT of IELTS official speaking exam examples for you to observe and get a feel for the type of language that will help you succeed. Also watching the speaking part will mentally prepare you for what you will be experiencing and may help you to calm down by ‘taking the mystery out of it’.
- Read a LOT
In the days and weeks leading up to the test spend time reading a variety of text types. Academic texts, technical data as well as extensive reading of non-fiction are great ways to build up your vocabulary. Also, try to find patterns or recurring phrases in each kind of text. Magazines and newspapers are a great resource for preparation.
Taking an IELTS preparation course is probably the best way to gain the skills, tactical experience and language exposure necessary to do well in the test. Even an IQ test has preparatory books that will give you aware raising activities so that you can develop an approach to the test itself. Does this mean that your IQ itself is raised? – no, it simply means that you have a heightened awareness about the expectations of the test and in this same way an IELTS course can have an immense impact on the way you approach the test itself.
So what about you? Have you tried the IELTS test? What Band score did you get? What were your preparation techniques? Let us know in the comments below.