An IELTS test taker asked me this question: 'In the Speaking test, I know I will be marked on how correct my grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are. But I don’t understand what this means. Do I have to speak in the same way I would write an essay?'
To do well in IELTS, you need to understand how the test works. This is difficult to do quickly because there are so many task types, and so many sections to the test (Speaking Parts 1, 2 and 3; Writing Parts 1 and 2; and so on). Each part tests different things in different ways. So, there’s a lot to learn.
For some candidates, it’s very tempting to write as much as they can in the one hour given in the Writing section — they want to really showcase their range of vocabulary and their ability to write long sentences. But do long essays really get you a better band score?
Will your culture affect your performance in IELTS Reading?
Back in 1978, researchers at the University of Illinois conducted an experiment in which they asked subjects from India and the US to read two passages: one about an Indian wedding and the other about an American wedding. They then tested their reading comprehension. They found that ‘Subjects read the native passage more rapidly, recalled a larger amount of information from the native passage, produced more culturally appropriate elaborations of the native passage, and produced more culturally based distortions of the foreign passage.’
In other words, they found that your culture does affect reading performance and the way you interpret a text.
'We have to listen and read and write all at the same time — that’s impossible!'
This is a common comment from students preparing for the IELTS Listening test. It is not easy to do all of these things at the same time — especially as you only hear the listening once — but it is not impossible.
In Part 2 of the Speaking test, you are given a card with a topic, and 60 seconds to prepare. You then have to speak on the topic for one to two minutes. This one minute of preparation time is absolutely critical, and can make all the difference in achieving the band score you need — or failing to reach it. In this post we will look at how you should use that crucial 60 seconds.
The IELTS test is critically important for most people. It can make the difference between studying overseas and staying at home; between having your immigration status confirmed or denied — perhaps for ever.
So, with your IELTS test coming up, you should study non-stop to get the result you need, right? The evidence suggests that this is not the case. You need to study, yes, but you need to study strategically.
It’s difficult to go seriously wrong with the Reading and Listening tests in IELTS. Even if you have trouble understanding the text or the audio, the question paper gives you a pretty clear idea of what you need to write. And if you’re not sure, you can always guess. With the Speaking test, you’ll answer a series of questions, so even if you make a mistake with one of them, you’ll get another chance with the next question. Writing Task 2 is different — If you fail to understand the question, and go off on the wrong track, you could score no marks at all. And that could mean missing the band score you need.
Let’s start by looking at a sample Writing Task 2 question.
I often receive emails or Facebook messages from IELTS test takers saying ‘How can I improve my reading?’ or ‘I am poor at reading.’ The problem is not that these candidates need to improve their reading, but that that they need to do it quickly. You may be one of them.
Most people find the Listening test more stressful than the Reading test. That’s because when you are reading, you have the texts in front of you and you can refer to them more than once. When you are listening, if you miss an answer, it’s gone — and because you only hear the recording once, you can never get it back. So you need to work out some strategies in advance.