What's your agenda about preparing for any standardised tests, say for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)? How will you prepare for IELTS - self-study/ tutored by an expert? Do you believe that if you follow the tips (below) that we suggest here will help you assemble all the required skills needed to achieve an excellent score in the exam?
1. Include ‘English’ in your daily life
Do one English activity every day – Watch a film, read a magazine or newspaper article, have a conversation in English. You could perhaps volunteer to read to the children at your local primary school. ENJOY the activity!
2. Stay informed
Keep abreast of current affairs. Read the newspaper every day because the IELTS writing tasks are based on items of general interest. For example: You probably know about rising fuel rates, but do you have sufficient ideas and vocabulary to write an essay, which counters the issue and encourages the public to voice their opinion?
3. Practice with concentration
Identify weakness and practice. For example: If listening is your weak point, concentrate on that during your daily practice. Listen to the radio in English or turn off the subtitles on a DVD movie. Practise speaking regularly, or start a club with other ‘IELTS’ friends and have one rule: ‘English only’!
4. Work on your logical thinking skills
For both reading and listening, you have to answer a variety of question types, including multiple choice, gap fills and short answers. If time is short or you have no inkling about the answer, then GUESS. When guessing, use logic to work out the answer. You do not lose marks for the wrong answer, and could actually get lucky by earning a few extra points!
5. Go though the examination instructions
Even during your practice/ mock tests, make sure you read the examination instructions - most candidates just dive into the test! The instructions can contain vital information required to answer the questions correctly. You may think that you are saving time by skipping the instructions, but it could reduce your scores.
6. Stick to the word limit
The usual word count is 150 words for writing task one and 250 for writing task two. If you fail to write a lot less than the correct number of words, the maximum score you can achieve is only 5.0. If you write too many words in one task and not enough in the other, you will be penalized! To avoid loss of marks, keep an eye on the clock - divide the time by the total number of words that are required for each task – generally, 20 minutes for task one and 40 minutes for task two.
7. Attack those ‘articles’!
There are two kinds of articles in the English language: definite article ‘the’ can be singular or plural; indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ are singular. Check your writing to ensure that you have used articles in the correct format. Use a good grammar book or online grammar exercises to practice article usage.
8. Speed up!
One of the criticisms for the IELTS test is that it asks the candidates to do too much in too little time. Many candidates find that they do not have enough time particularly in the writing section. So what can you do? Practice writing out paragraphs from a book and time yourself.
9. Simulate your speaking test
In most speaking test’s interviews, you will need to introduce yourself –be natural and friendly. To get better at introducing yourself, prepare a self-describing two-minute speech. Then, simulate the interview with your friend being the interviewer. Get feedback - is the content interesting, does it sound natural and so on. Adjust the content as appropriate.
10. Check your body language
As with any interview, first impressions count – be helpful and willing to answer questions. Show the examiner that you are fluent and possess good grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Practice sitting comfortably with good posture, and hold your hands formally together in your lap. Controlled body movements are advisable as your examinant may not be from the same cultural background.
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