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.
IELTS is a challenging test. You can reduce the stress by making sure that you understand all the rules and have all the practicalities under control for the test day. Here are four key points, and some do’s and don’ts.
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.
‘I have no idea how people cope with nerves on the test day. The previous night I could not sleep and it was hard for my brain to function at 7AM in the morning. And of course the result is worse than I anticipated. How did you do it?’ — from a troubled IELTS blog reader. Exam anxiety is annoying but there are ways to help you feel prepared instead of nervous. Let’s look at how we can get into our best possible form on the test day.
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.’