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?'
You need to spend a lot of time preparing for IELTS on your own. But studies show that even when independent learners know which of their language skills are strong and which are weak, they still tend to spend more time on their strong areas. In a 2015 study at the University of Hong Kong, Professor David Gardner found that students ‘ultimately preferred to remain in their comfort zone.’
Will your culture affect your performance in IELTS Reading?
Back in 1978, researchers at the University of Illinois conducted an experiment in which they asked subjects from India and the US to read two passages: one about an Indian wedding and the other about an American wedding. They then tested their reading comprehension. They found that ‘Subjects read the native passage more rapidly, recalled a larger amount of information from the native passage, produced more culturally appropriate elaborations of the native passage, and produced more culturally based distortions of the foreign passage.’
In other words, they found that your culture does affect reading performance and the way you interpret a text.
The best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at school or a conversation with a friend. Have you ever spoken to a friend and then thought, 'Oh, what did he just say?' because you were daydreaming? You weren't being a good listener! And this can happen in your IELTS test too.
To do well in IELTS, you need to understand how the test works. This is difficult to do quickly because there are so many task types, and so many sections to the test (Speaking Parts 1, 2 and 3; Writing Parts 1 and 2; and so on). Each part tests different things in different ways. So, there’s a lot to learn.
The IELTS test is critically important for most people. It can make the difference between studying overseas and staying at home; between having your immigration status confirmed or denied — perhaps for ever.
So, with your IELTS test coming up, you should study non-stop to get the result you need, right? The evidence suggests that this is not the case. You need to study, yes, but you need to study strategically.