IELTS is perhaps the most common exam that every non-native speaker is required to take in order to live or study in an English-speaking country. Copious literature and numerous articles have been written on the subject; you must have a good command of English by now (seeing that you’re reading this article!)
The problem is, everything you know before having the IELTS test matters not—unless you are able to apply it to practice. Below are four easy-to-grasp (albeit hard-to-follow) tips that will help you overcome problems that may arise at the exam and bring out the best result.
One. Immerse Yourself in the Language
Probably you already do a lot of learning, maybe even attend a language club / course. It might not be enough for a perfect score, though. As with any English-speaking test, IELTS requires as much immersion in the language as possible. Try—at least for a couple of days before the exam—surrounding yourself with everything English: read in English, listen to English music, watch English TV, speak in English only, and so on. (Ideally, you should also write down all the interesting expressions and phrases that you come across, and use them by practicing answering the latest IELTS speaking topics)
Two. Writing Is a Special Case
In terms of IELTS, definitely. In Academic IELTS, you will be asked to describe a visual and write an IELTS essay band 9 within an hour—a daunting task unless you know exactly what to do. For part one, you must know set expressions and phrases used to describe data—changes, trends, comparisons, etc.—and how to connect them into a coherent story. Part two, on the other hand, tests your ability to generate ideas and use arguments to support them. Practice is the best and most reliable way to excel at the writing task. You could share your essays with peers who will check them for mistakes or, alternatively, check your IELTS writing with free correction and evaluation service online.
Three. Know Exactly What You’re Dealing with
As has been shown above (in the case of writing), it is necessary to know what tasks you will be completing at the exam—and how to do this in the right way. Many a student has failed by incorrectly transferring their answers onto the answers sheet. Listening is particularly tricky in this regard since you’ll listen to each recording only once—and there are four of them! When it comes to reading, time is limited, and the text is copious (you actually won’t manage to read it all, so don’t waste your time). Therefore, skimming and scanning techniques are a must, and you should start by familiarising yourself with questions and then look up the answers, not vice versa.
Four. Do Your Homework (So Long as It’s Allowed)
Unless you’re a fortune-teller (and you’re probably not), you won’t be able to know what the IELTS test holds for you. Apart from at least one thing: That you’ll be asked to talk about yourself—not only say what your name is or what you like / don’t like, but also recall the funniest / scariest / etc. moment in your life. If you have a story prepared in store for the examinators, you’ll feel more confident. And, perhaps, it might come in handy during the writing part, too—since in your essay, you are expected to support your arguments with real-life examples. The ‘homework’ part of this tip could be taken literally as well: taking a free IELTS test online will never hurt.