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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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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IELTS Reading: Exam skills are critical to success

When I have a new IELTS class, the first thing I want to assess is their exam skills. So I ask them to read and complete some IELTS Reading tasks. Almost always the questions go to one side, and the candidates focus on the text and read it word by word from beginning to end. I can always see some students panicking about words they don't know. Meanwhile the minutes are ticking away and no answers are being noted down...

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