If you are planning for postgraduate studies abroad or immigration to the UK, USA, Canada, Auatralis or New Zealand,then you will probably need to do the IELTS exam.
Here are some tops tips from IELTS test-takers...
Tips for IELTS Speaking\Answer what you are asked clearly: yes, no, etc. and then expand your response with more detail.
Beware of double questions. Do you ...? Why? Why not? Do not forget to cover the Why? or Why not? Part.
Let the question guide your answer. If you are asked for a comparative, conditional, etc. then compare, contrast, provide a conditional answer, etc.
Respond first, and then explain. Start speaking! Do not and try to think of all your reasons before you begin speaking. Respond to the question; agree, disagree, etc. give your opinion – then follow up with reasons, examples, etc.
Part 1: short answers, no more than two sentences or three sentences.
Part 2: Read the Cue Card carefully. It is preferable to speak about something that you are not sure about than to try and give an answer that you prepared (memorized) which can be ‘off topic’. For example, if you get the Cue Card asking about "a toy from your childhood that you remember", do not give a prepared answer about your first bike. It is not "strictly a toy", and the examiner is trained to identify memorized answers.
When you have to improvise, it is more natural, even though it is more difficult. You can practice with many different topics – but avoid memorizing complete answers!
Part 3: Again, be clear if you agree/disagree or what your opinion is – and then explain why. Try to use examples to explain what you want to say. Think about examples of the situation in your own country, etc. Try to speak as much as possible but stay relevant to the question.
This section is supposed to be ‘a discussion’ and not a question-answer session, so depending what you say, the examiner will ask more questions related to your answers, to explore the topic further, or to explore other aspects of the topic.
Tips for IELTS WritingFour things are evaluated. TASK ACHIEVEMENT, COHERENCE AND COHESION, GRAMMAR ACCURACY and LEXICAL RESOURCE. This is the important thing! You need a 7 in each of them to give you 7 as a final result.
Do not try to reinvent ideas or show off your knowledge. Focus on organizing your ideas well, before you begin to write.
First. Read and understand the question/statement well. What does it ask exactly?
Respond to all the points of each task. That is Task Achievement. Answer what they ask you to answer – not an essay you memorized. Respect the typical structure of an exam essay; Introduction, Body, Opinion (if asked), Conclusion.
- Introduction: rewrite with your own words (paraphrase) the question/statement they give you. Give a sentence with the general focus of your essay.
- Body: this will change according to the type of essay you are given (Advantages / Disadvantages, to what extent do you Agree / Disagree, your opinion, etc.).
- Opinion: give it if they ask for it.
- Conclusion: do not give new ideas. Your ideas should be in the Body. In the conclusion, you should recap (review and summarize) those ideas again and try to use different vocabulary.
Use short sentences.
At least two sentences per paragraph.
Avoid phrases that may seem copied and ‘generic’ or can fit in any essay.
Use 6-7 minutes to plan the structure, 28-29 minutes to write and 3-4 to check grammar, spelling, structure, etc. at the end.
Do not take chances with very complex grammatical structures if you do are not 100% sure about them.
Check spelling: one of the evaluation criteria is the number of error-free sentences.
We all have typical mistakes. Try to correct them and/or avoid them.
Do not waste time counting words. When you practice before the exam, check the average number of words you normally write in a line, on a sheet, and then simply multiply the lines you write in the exam by the average number of words to get a quick idea of how many words you write.
Use copies of the Official Writing Answer Sheet to practice.
Tips for IELTS ReadingDo not read the text! Scan to find out what it is about.
Some people read the questions first to know what they are looking for. It is a personal matter. Some people prefer to know what the text is about and then go to the questions.
When you find an answer, underline it to make sure you answer the question clearly.
Understand the question well. This is the most important trap!
One of the things they evaluate in IELTS is if you are able to understand the questions. And there are very tricky questions. To get a Band 7 you can only go wrong with 6 questions maximum!
Use the official answer sheet to practice and try to finish with time to review spelling and that you have not mistaken the number where you write the answer. This is a common error!
Respect the exam time.
Do not waste time with an answer that does not seem to fit. Continue, and you are likely to find the correct answer later.
Be careful with those that seem very easy. They are usually not correct!
Look carefully at the number of questions in Section 3. There are usually some on the back cover that you do not see.
Beware of the TRUE / FALSE / NOT GIVEN and the YES / NO / NOT GIVEN questions.
Search first for TRUE and FALSE. The NOT GIVEN are usually the ones that you have left over, but not always!
50% of success in IELTS is practice, practice, and practice. You have to get to the point where you do things almost automatically.
Tips for IELTS ListeningOne important thing is to go through the questions that in advance. That prepares you better for what is coming on the audio track. Try practicing reading through them quickly. Try to read in advance everything you can without neglecting what you are listening to.
Adjust your ears! Try listening to TED.com with talks of 20 minutes maximum on the typical topics that the IELTS always deals with. Watch them with subtitles in English to catch pronunciation.
The US National Public Radio has podcasts with recorded audio. There are a thousand topics, one is TED Radio Hour, which is very good listening practice. Listen to that and ABC of Australia. It will help you adjust your listening skills a lot.
Read the instructions well. A typical error is if you have to write ONE / TWO / THREE WORDS. Many people slip up here. For example, a question where the answer is the ‘profession’ and it could be Engineer or Project Manager, if it is only a single word, put Engineer, but if it is two words, put
Project Manager. Be clear about the instructions for each section of questions.
When you practice, replicate the examination situation. Write in the booklet and then, fill a copy of the official exam sheet. Remember spelling, uppercase, lowercase, etc. When they review the answers, they do it with that sheet. When you use the official answer sheets for practice, you will feel more familiar with the process and everything will be more normal.
You need 30 correct answers for an IELTS Band 7. Do not get distracted by a question that you missed.
Good luck with your IELTS exam!