IELTS Reading: Time management the key to a high band score

‘I don’t understand how some candidates could complete the paper within just one hour — there is just so much to read!’ We often hear candidates complaining about the lack of time in the Reading test: the articles are long and difficult, and it seems impossible to complete all the questions in an hour. In this blog post, we will look at a smart way to manage your time in the Reading test.

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IELTS Listening: Help! I don’t understand the accent!

The problem

IELTS is an international test, so you might hear a range of different accents, including Australian, British, New Zealand and North American. Remember that you only hear the audio once in the Listening test so you need to be absolutely confident that you can pick out every detail first time. An unfamiliar accent can get in the way of that. While there will not be any extreme accents, you should at least be familiar with a range of ‘standard’ accents.
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IELTS Speaking: The grammar challenge

You might be surprised to hear that grammar is one of the four criteria used to assess your IELTS Speaking test performance and that it carries 25% of the points.

Many test-takers assume grammar in speaking is only about accuracy and not making any mistakes. This is only half the story. Making errors is natural, and IELTS understands this: even IELTS Speaking Band 7 expects that ‘some grammatical mistakes persist’.

To avoid mistakes, it helps to think about the tenses you use, and ensure these tenses relate to the questions being asked. So, if the question asked is What did you do at work today?, a key word here is did, which is in the past tense. So your answer should be in the past tense too, e.g. I wrote a report.

However, grammar is also about showing a range of grammatical structures. This means going beyond simple sentences (e.g. only using the simple present), and using a variety of tenses and grammatical features.

How can you demonstrate a wider range of grammar in your speaking? Read more

IELTS Writing: Make every word count

The challenge

Your band score in IELTS Writing will depend in part on the range of vocabulary you use. Specifically:

  • Band 6: an “adequate range of vocabulary”
  • Band 7: a “sufficient range of vocabulary”
  • Bands 8-9: a “wide range of vocabulary”

You only have 150 words in Part 1 and 250 words in Part 2 to do this, so it’s really important that you don’t waste words and make every word counts.
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IELTS Preparation: Understanding your weak areas

The problem

You need to spend a lot of time preparing for IELTS on your own. But studies show that even when independent learners know which of their language skills are strong and which are weak, they still tend to spend more time on their strong areas. In a 2015 study at the University of Hong Kong, Professor David Gardner found that students ‘ultimately preferred to remain in their comfort zone.’
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IELTS Writing: Failing to plan is planning to fail!

One reason the IELTS Writing test is challenging is because of the time constraints. You only have one hour to do two tasks. This means that using your time efficiently is vital.

It is very important to plan what you will write before you start writing. This might seem an obvious idea but many candidates, perhaps consumed with test-day nerves, see the test question and immediately start on their answer.

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