IELTS or International English Language Testing System is designed mainly for non-native speakers. All the top universities in the world have set specific IELTS marks cut-off for immigrant students. That’s why you have to aim for a higher band score in the IELTS exam. Many European countries consider your IELTS scores before granting you a visa. So, you need to be thoroughly prepared before sitting in this tough exam. You should be well versed with the exam pattern. Otherwise, you will end up losing a lot of marks due to poor time management.
In this article, we have included a number of tips to keep in mind before giving IELTS test. So, you enter the exam hall with good preparation and come out with flying colours.
What is the difficulty level of IELTS exam?
There are five categories of IELTS exam on the basis of difficulty level and candidates –
- General training
- Life Skills B1
- Life Skills A2
- Life Skills A1
Academic IELTS is for the students opting for higher education. General training exam is developed for the people flying overseas for job postings or vocational training. These two exams are more difficult than life skills IELTS. Because life skills test is for immigrants who want to live in foreign with their already settled relatives.
Academic IELTS exam is attempted by a huge number of students worldwide. Even a good number of English speaking candidates take the test to prove their impeccable skills.
There are in total 4 papers in IELTS exam namely listening, writing, reading and speaking. All four skill tests are completed on the same day. Some test centres hold the speaking exam on a separate date within 7 days of the main exam. You have to plan different strategies to tackle each paper.
You have to complete this paper in 30 minutes. The exam comprises of listening to audios and writing answers to the related questions. Instructions will be given by the examiner before playing the audio. Listen with sheer focus because the same audio is not repeated twice. So, read the questions before you listen to the audio. And try to find the required answers while listening. Extra 10 minutes is spared to transfer your response to the official answer sheet. Many students fail to organise their answers in such a short time span. Some candidates write an answer to one question at a different place in a hurry. In this way the whole answer sheet gets mismatched and the score goes down. So, we will recommend that you mark your answers ahead of the last moment. Be careful and match the sequence of questions and answers. Refrain from cursive or illegible handwriting. You can write the options in capital letters. Don’t go for short forms like T or F. Instead write TRUE and FALSE. Stick to the word limit for each question.
60 minutes has been allotted to this test in IELTS. In such a span of time, you have to read and comprehend three very long texts. Native candidates also fall short of time in reading the lengthy paragraphs line by line. So, it is advised to read the questions first. Then you have to just skim through the long texts and spot the exact answers. This way you will save a lot of time. The remaining time can be utilised for writing the answers because no extra time is allotted for this. You will be awarded marks for only those answers which are free of grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. You should follow the instructions on the question paper while writing the answers.
The writing paper is conducted in 1 hour. You will be allocated 2 writing tasks which can be an essay, paragraph, letter or application. The tone and language of your writing should be formal and void of any grammatical mistakes. You can follow the USA, UK or Australian English in the paper.
This special section assesses your English speaking skills. It is conducted in the form of an interview between you and the examiner. You have to give a detailed explanation for every question asked. You need to prove that you are comfortable in casual English communication. You can use simple sentences instead of ornamental words. It will be impressive if you can use one or two relevant idioms. The interviewer can figure out if you have already prepared for a question. He may change the question at the very moment. So, remain prepared for every possible question.
Some tips for IELTS preparation
- Cheating is strictly prohibited at the exam centre. You will be disqualified if you disobey the security norms.
- You are not allowed to carry a watch, smartphone, calculator or blank pages to the exam hall. So, stick to these rules.
- Reference material is available online for the speaking test. The material contains all the possible questions that can be asked in the interview. Don’t memorise all the answers but mentally prepare your own responses. So, that you don’t have to think a long time about the perfect explanations.
- To improve scores in reading and listening section, adhere to updated resources by Cambridge, IDP or British Council. Regularly read English magazines and newspapers to boost your reading speed.
- To finish the writing portion in a fixed time limit, regular practice is required. Practice mock papers for proper time management. Spare some time in the end to rectify the errors.
- Read the most probable and new essay topics on the internet. Try to write within a fixed word limit. Use a rich vocabulary and a good flow in the essay.
- To get the listening answers correct, you need to be mindful and alert while listening to the audio. So, practice a lot!
If you have joined coaching, then ask advice from friends who have already given the test. Make a study partner and practice speaking skills. Your mentors will be always there to correct the mistakes.
Always aim for a band score of 7 and above. With consistent efforts, many non-native students are achieving good results. So, why not you? Believe in yourself and keep practising to ace in the IELTS exam.