Most people find the Listening test more stressful than the Reading test. That’s because when you are reading, you have the texts in front of you and you can refer to them more than once. When you are listening, if you miss an answer, it’s gone — and because you only hear the recording once, you can never get it back. So you need to work out some strategies in advance.
In the IELTS Speaking test you will be asked questions about different aspects of your life: your hobbies, where you live, your occupation. How important is it to answer truthfully?
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. So, with your IELTS test coming up, you should be studying non-stop to prepare and get the result you need, right? The evidence suggests that this is not the case. Yes, you need to study, but you need to study strategically.
For some candidates, it’s very tempting to write as much as they can in the one hour given in the Writing section — they want to really showcase their range of vocabulary and their ability to write long sentences. But do long essays really get you a better band score?
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
Let’s start by looking at a sample Writing Task 2 question.
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.