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.
Certain tasks in IELTS are more predictable than the others. For example, we know that in the Listening module there is always at least one part related to education and academic knowledge. The Reading module in General Training also features topics that are fairly predictable, and there is no reason to not prepare well for them.
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.
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.
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.
The easiest way to fail to get the band score you need is to go into the test without fully understanding what is required of you.
IELTS Reading includes unusual question types which you may not find in other reading exams. Let’s look at this example of matching headings to paragraphs.
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.
An IELTS test taker asked me this question: ‘In the Speaking test, I know I will be marked on how correct my grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are. But I don’t understand what this means. Do I have to speak in the same way I would write an essay?’
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.