IELTS or International English Language Testing System is one of the major tests in English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. IELTS has two modules, IELTS Academic and IELTS General. IELTS Academic Module is for those students who wish to pursue higher education from universities and institutes in an English-speaking environment take this test. While IELTS General Training module is for those planning to undertake training not related to academic or to gain work experience. Many institutions recognize IELTS scores across the globe. Most Australian, British and Canadian institutes accept IELTS.
IELTS is tailor-made to measure your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, and evaluate your ability to communicate in everyday work, study or life in an English-speaking environment.
IELTS is a skill-based test that judges your skill in speaking English rather than a knowledge-based test.
How to start IELTS preparation
Understanding the format
The first step towards IELTS Preparation is to be familiar with the test format. This is the most fundamental thing you need to understand. In any examination, being acquainted with the format is an absolute must. The trick in doing well in any exam is to understand the format and device your own suitable mechanisms to tackle the exam. Go through the type of tasks or questions asked in each part that includes listening, writing, reading and speaking of the test. Each skill has its own format, be familiar with each section of the exam. Since it is a skill test for language, each paper demands separate way for tackling. If you master all the four skills, there is nothing stopping you in scoring the highest.
IELTS practice sample papers
Another important aspect is to practice with sample papers. This familiarizes you with the process and gives you confidence. There are innumerable practice questions available in the internet and market for IELTS exam preparation. IELTS test series can be bought or downloaded from the internet. Practice well for every skill. In the beginning, do not consider the time factor. Complete the practice paper in your own time. This will allow you to explore all the questions. It helps you identify your weakness and strength.
Once you are confident with the pattern and format, strict time following can be practiced. Practicing a good number of sample questions will be very beneficial. Dedicated IELTS exam practice will definitely help you come out with excellence.
IELTS Preparation Material
Any good preparation requires good study material. Having good IELTS study material is very essential. Numerous materials are available online and in the market for IELTS preparation but not all are good. Since there are so many options; it becomes important to know what to choose and not to. The online platform is flooded with sources and requires good filtering before you start referring them. A good reference fetches you the better chance of developing the skills than unnecessary and irrelevant ones. Thus, selecting the right material for IELTS preparation is also one of the important reasons in order to do well in the test. The official IELTS website also offers sets of official question papers that will help you understand the real format and standard of questions.
Consider IELTS preparation course
Taking up a preparation course for IELTS could be a wise decision as the course will guide and help you prepare for the test in various ways. IELTS preparation course helps in improving performance of the students. Many students do well without a classroom training while some do better in such condition.
The preparation course can be offline or online depending on your wish. Offline courses give you a classroom scenario where you get to go and interact with the teachers and your fellow students. In online courses, you can choose your time and place of study. Both have their own pros and cons, it is up to you to decide the course that suits you the best. IELTS coaching is now available widely all over the globe through an online platform or offline coaching centers.
IELTS exam preparation – Preparing yourself for the test
• Building your core English skills
IELTS is a skill-based test that cannot be passed simply by giving mock tests. They require skills in English that has to be built gradually. Mock tests, are essential to understand and familiarize you with the format of the test. However, it is not the sole route to doing well in the test. The language skills that include reading, writing, speaking and listening all require learning. Having a good teacher can help you largely in improving your core skills and test prep. Watching English movies, listening to songs in English and conversing in English brings out natural flow of the language.
• Improving the listening skill
Listening to native speakers speak in televisions, internet and songs may help you improve your listening skill. This is gradually developing skill, with practice and familiarity with the language it smoothens and becomes better. Having a teacher or a friend to converse may help you in the same.
• Strengthen your reading
To develop and strengthen IELTS reading, it is necessary to read on a daily basis. Read from various sources about varied subjects ranging from science, history, technology, literature and many more. This will help in familiarizing you with new words and words from all topics. It also helps in developing the vocabulary of the reader. For IELTS general reading and IELTS academic reading paper varies in the sense that the latter requires being familiar with readings in the academic field like journals. Whereas, IELTS general reading is more of general description, work-based passages or job descriptions. To improve the IELTS general reading practice one needs to try to read as much as in various topics available in their reach. This will definitely improve their reading skill.
• Developing your writing skill
For IELTS Academic the writing paper consists of a figure, table, chart or a graph description and essay writing. For IELTS General writing it consists of letter writing and an essay. Essay writing becomes very important as it carries greater marks than the other task. To write a good essay in IELTS writing skill it is important to understand the topic well and clearly express your views. Many candidates try to memorize essays but all in vain. Having a good legible and neat handwriting is as important. You may have wonderful points for your essay, but an illegible pile of words will do no good. Try to develop this writing skill to score better.
• Practicing your English speaking skill
In IELTS exam, the speaking paper consists of a one-on-one interview with the examiner. The interview is to judge your skill in speaking the language and having a conversation in it. Practice speaking in English as much as you can with people around you. Practice the part that includes telling about yourself and your life properly beforehand. In the part, where a topic is given to speak on, do not try to be mechanical in the way you speak. Try to be spontaneous and speak calmly that all seems to go smoothly.
To develop fluency in English requires a lot of practice. Listen to native speakers speak the language. A classroom setup can also help you converse in English all the time, thus helping you improve your speaking skill. In case of the answers, you have given always be able to justify your answers.
8 Tips to improve your exam preparation
• Setting a goal
It is difficult to learn everything and anything especially in case of a language. Learning a language is not just memorizing, but requires time and patience to learn a language. It is highly essential to know the actual scenario or be very realistic about your goals both short term and long-term ones. This to check on your progress and set goals that are achievable in shorter spans of time. This can be anything like doing essay practice for two days and taking a mock test in listening and reading. This practice will ultimate help you realize your larger goal.
• Learning English is a skill – do not hurry
Like mentioned earlier, IELTS test is a skill test not a knowledge test. To learn a skill requires time and patience. English is not to be memorized but it is continuous practice that should help you converse in English. If you have mugged up the language, examiners will come to know easily. You may have memorized a certain answer, but the question may seem similar but demand different answer. Mugging up the language is no means to learn the language or any other language for that matter.
• Practice makes a man perfect
There is no alternative to hard work. Practicing as many you can helps you improve your skill. Whether it is speaking, reading, writing or listening practice is the only way to improvement and excellence. Give time to all the papers and concentrate on your weaknesses. Be regular with your practice and do not miss out any scheduled practice. Even if something comes up, try to compensate for it later. You can also take gaps in a week just to help you clear your thoughts and reflect. Slow and steady wins the race and with dedicated practice, there is nothing to stop you.
• Watch the clock
In the IELTS exam, timing yourself is very important. When you ask, students or people who have given this exam before they often say they ran out of time. This is a clear indication that time is an essential factor in IELTS exam. To improve your own timing skills, you can keep a timer when you prepare for your exam. This will help you keep up with the time. Do not bother to spend too much time on one question. If time permits, you can always come back to that question. However, wasting time on the question will only lose your precious time.
• Knowing your weakness
A good player knows his weakness and better player knows how to turn it into his advantage. When you practice a lot of practice papers you have an idea about your weakness and strengths. You know where your weaknesses and strengths lie. Once you know where your weaknesses lie, you can easily choose to tackle them and turn it into your strength. If your writing skill, especially essays are weak then try to practice them more often, try to plan the essay before you start writing. Ask your teacher or someone with better English skills to check your essays and grade them. If your speaking is poor or needs improvement, try to talk in English whenever you can.
• Grow your vocabulary
To do fair in the IELTS exam, having a good vocabulary is important. Try to improve your vocabulary by reading, writing and listening. Especially in the reading paper, it is basically a vocabulary test. Thus, having a good vocabulary or improving it will surely prove to be worth it. It becomes essential to know words that are related to the IELTS. To improve your vocabulary you can refer to the internet or good study materials.
• Learn from your mistakes
Making mistakes is a sign you tried, but once you have committed a mistake do not repeat the same one again. Making mistakes is not the problem; the problem is when you keep doing the same mistakes. In order to correct these mistakes, you need to practice in quality over quantity. You can get yourself enrolled in any course to help you improve your mistakes. You can keep taking tests with care in order not to make the same mistakes.
• Join online platforms related to IELTS
Many social websites and apps spread and help sharing ideas and problems. You can take advantage of the social media websites to improve your chances of cracking the exam with good score. There are many IELTS test preparation groups and forums that discuss and interact on IELTS test related matters. You can get access to many more sources of knowledge and practice. There are private tutors available online Queryfloor who can help you to improve your English skills at your time and convenience.
Qualifying in IELTS exam becomes very important for students and persons wishing to further their educational and working career in abroad countries. Nowadays, students have easy access to information, study material and strategies for preparation. The preparation for it has to be done diligently and smartly. Following a good guidance and tips from experts will assist you in doing well in the exam.