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

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: Significantly 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.

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IELTS Writing: The most difficult paper?

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.

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IELTS Speaking: Good speakers make mistakes

The IELTS Speaking test is the shortest test in all four modules: it lasts between 11-14 minutes. You might be forgiven, however, if you think of these 14 minutes as the longest in your lifetime, as they determine your future. Nervousness and lack of preparation are your biggest enemies, so what are you going to do about them? Here are my suggestions.

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IELTS Preparation: Understanding the task types

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.

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