You perform well in class. You understand the IELTS question types. You’ve worked through the IELTS prep books. But studies show that this doesn’t mean you will do well in the IELTS test itself. Why is this?
Dr Sian Beilock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, studied why people perform badly in stressful situations such as exams. She found that exam stress takes up your working memory — the part of your mind you use to focus on the questions. As a result, you perform worse than you would in a less stressful environment, such as the classroom or at home.
Whether you are taking IELTS Academic or General Training, you will need to write a 250 word essay in the Writing Part 2. You will perform much better if you understand what the examiner is looking for — and then deliver it.
First, let’s look at the IELTS assessment criteria:
- Task achievement. This means you should answer all parts of the question, your answer must be relevant, and you should provide supporting ideas for the points you are making.
- Coherence and cohesion. Your writing should be structured so it is easy to read and understand. This means you need to organise your ideas into paragraphs. You also need to link your ideas with words like however, therefore and despite.
- Lexical resource. To get a good score, you need to use a wide range of vocabulary. Not everything has to be 100% correct, but any errors you do make should be few in number and should not affect understanding.
- Grammatical range and accuracy. As with vocab, you should use a variety of grammatical structures, and any grammatical errors should be few in number and should not affect understanding.
Now, let’s see how we can apply them to a candidate’s essay. Read more
In IELTS Reading, your biggest enemy is the clock. You have three passages to read in an hour, so you are going to be in a hurry — and when you rush, it’s easy to make mistakes. So it’s important to do some of the hard work before you even arrive at the exam hall. Try to spend 15 minutes, right now, reading and digesting three important facts about multiple choice questions in the Reading test.
At the beginning of the Listening test you are given 30 seconds to look at the question paper. This enables you to use the words on the paper to predict the words that you will hear in the recording. But that would be too easy! It’s much more likely that you will not hear these words; you will hear different words that mean the same thing. These are called synonyms.
Have you ever thought that the IELTS Speaking test is about more than just speaking? In this post we will look at the psychological aspects of the test, and think about how you can exploit them to improve your score.
There is clear evidence that learning the various task types in IELTS is the quickest and most effective way of improving your band score. We recently conducted research on over 100,000 British Council candidates using Road to IELTS (our official IELTS preparation product) to do just this. We found that after using the program for just six hours, candidates’ scores in the Reading module activities improved by, on average, 64%.
Clearly, in six hours there can be no significant change in their level of English; their improvement came from learning how to answer the questions. This can be achieved in a relatively short period of time.
‘Reading and writing cannot be separated from each other: the more in-depth reading you do, the more in-depth writing you will eventually do.’ The University of Washington points to a clear link between reading and writing. Reading exposes you to different styles; it shows you how grammar is used correctly; and it helps you to build vocabulary and use it accurately. But to get the maximum benefit for your IELTS Writing test, you need to use reading as a source for focused writing activities. Read on for an example of how you can do this.
You may have read one of our posts about nine commonly asked questions for the Listening module. In this post, I am going to discuss some common questions candidates have asked us about the Reading module.
Like most IELTS candidates, you probably know which band score you are aiming for. Is it 5.5, 6.0 — perhaps even 7.5? But if you are going to plan your preparation properly, you also need to know how good you are now. How can you find that out?
Changing the outcome
‘Don’t leave that situation feeling, like, oh I didn’t show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, I really got to say who I am and show who I am.’ — Amy Cuddy
In the TED talk Your body language shapes who you are, Amy Cuddy explains how just two minutes of ‘power posing’ before an ‘evaluative situation’, such as the IELTS Speaking test, really can change the outcome.