International English Language Testing System (IELTS) grades your English Language proficiency based on four key aspects of a Language: Speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
You’d find online, now, lots of IELTS study guides, innumerable preparation kits and programs, that picking the best and most effective one might be overwhelming to someone preparing for the test.
Preparation oftentimes require a sustained period of sitting down to read and to practice.
However, while practising, it is essential to pay attention to certain important points in order to get the best from your study time and make it qualitative and worthwhile.
Here are 5 simple steps that you can take that would help you prepare and ace your IELTS test:
1. Pay attention to Vocabularies
Learning to use the appropriate word in a given context is probably the most important thing you need to learn in preparation for your IELTS. You should note that IELTS tests your understanding of the meaning and use of certain basic words and phrases in communication. The best way to learn how to put words into the proper context is by reading frequently. When you read, pay attention to words you do not know and highlight them. You should then try to understand their meanings according to the context which they are used in the passage. Then look the word up in the dictionary to get other usages of the word.
Reading and listening to the news in English is a good way to get exposed to many new words. And once you learn a new word, practice using it in your conversations and writings.
Tips for practice:
- Take note of phrases (rather than individual words.)
- Note expressions that could be used in a variety of formal context.
- Use a good dictionary to check proper word usage.
- Do not spend too much time learning highly specialized or technical words.
- Note useful expressions that are related to specific topics.
- Practice speaking and writing about different topics in English.
- Read newspaper, magazines, blogs, and listen to podcasts to learn more.
2. Read a lot
It is important that you make time to read and then get a good English dictionary and check out the meanings of new words.
Tips for practice:
- First, skim through the passage to form a general picture quickly.
- Make sure you know what’s required for each task.
- Read through instructions carefully.
- Read through passages carefully to get the content and organization of the text.
- Pay attention to key vocabularies in the passage and how they are used.
- Don’t use a dictionary until you have completed the task and checked your answers.
3. Develop your writing skills
Develop the habit of recording new words. Make note of the definitions, synonyms, and examples of sentences with the word. You can note them in a jotter or file card that you can check later for reference. It is also important that you pronounce the words as this can aid in retention and help you recollect at a later time.
Tips for practice
- Improve your writing speed by practising timed writing.
- Always try to make your word count beyond the minimum word length.
- Remember that Task 2 is longer and has more marks, so leave enough time for it.
- Note that Academic writing task 1 is a report on a chart and General Training writing task 1 is letter writing.
- For practice, spend less than 20 mins on writing task 1.
- Write over 150 words.
- For Academic writing, select the important features and choose figures to support these.
- To practice, look for diagrams, graphs, and charts in the newspaper or on the Internet and analyze them. Notice how diagrams are used on TV programs.
- Pay attention to the aim and purpose of the letter.
- Ensure your letter fully cover all information required.
- Read newspapers and books by good authors to learn how they clearly organize their points into paragraphs.
- Analyze the question carefully.
- Make a paragraph plan before you write your report
- Make sure all aspect of the question is addressed
- Know your common mistakes and check for them
4. Practice fluency and correct pronunciation
Practising consistently and pronouncing words correctly would really help you at getting a good score during your speaking session.
IELTS speaking component is structured into three sessions: Structured interview, short-talk, and free interview.
The first aspect is usually about you (the test taker). You will be answering questions on your daily activities and life as you know it. It usually takes 5 minutes.
In the second aspect, your examiner will give you a card, a cue card, containing a task or an instruction. Your examiner then lets you go through the questions on the card. One minute would be given to you to prepare and gather your thoughts. Thereafter, you’d be required to give a talk for 2 minutes.
Questions in the third and final aspect of the IELTS Speaking Test are usually abstract. Your examiner will be raising some issues that you need to react to. It equally takes about 5 minutes.
Tips for practice
- Practice speaking for a considerable long time
- consciously make the effort to speak up during conversations
- For practice, record yourself speaking on different topics often.
- Listen to spoken English ( on radio/TV/films as much as possible and pay attention to how words are pronounced.)
- When listening to recordings, repeat phrases after the speaker in order to improve your speaking and use stress and intonation properly.
5. Practice your Listening Skills
Make the effort to listen to the news, podcasts, recordings, and pay attention to conversations, then try to recollect the main points of the discussions. You can jot certain essential bits of information from a conversation and then try to analyze them.
During the test, make sure you know what’s required for each task and read instructions carefully. After checking your answers, listen again, and try to work out the cause of any problem
Tips for practice
- Remember that you only hear the recording once. Don’t pause the CD when you are practising.
- Practice different types of listening situations (lectures, conversations, podcasts, etc)
- Identify your listening weaknesses and work on improving those areas
- For practice, choose topics that are interesting to you.
- When choosing practice tests, try and find ones with scripts or subtitles.
These tips would help you prepare adequately for your IELTS test; however, you would still need to be committed and practise consistently to achieve a good score in your test. A combination of the two will give you a great chance of getting the desired grade for IELTS.