Many candidates say that they find it very difficult to retake the IELTS test: they feel they have already done what they were supposed to do and they cannot figure out what went wrong in their last test. For candidates who take IELTS for immigration or college application, re-sitting the test can be a stressful experience — but still, there are many things you can do to achieve the best possible band score.
The IELTS Listening test sets out to show which candidates can listen effectively, and which can’t. One of the ways of doing this is to set traps — and see whether you fall into them. You need to know about these traps and how to avoid them. In this post we will look at one of the most common traps: the distractor.
In IELTS Speaking Part II, you have to talk for two minutes on a topic given to you by the examiner. Do you understand how you will be graded?
According to the IELTS Speaking assessment criteria, your speaking will be marked on the following five points:
- Fluency and coherence: how well your response flows and how well connected your ideas are
- Lexical resource: how well you use vocabulary to express what you mean
- Grammatical range and accuracy: how well you use English grammar, the variety of grammatical structures you use and how you use grammar to aid understanding
- Pronunciation: how easy it is for the examiner to understand what you are saying
- Relevance: you must, of course, stick to the topic on the card
This is not difficult to understand in theory, but are you confident you know what it means in practice?
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.