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15 things to consider when preparing for IELTS

Prepping for the IELTS? Here are the fifteen commandments you must follow to the tee if you want to set foot in your dream university.

Antony Chacko

Before the listening test starts you are provided with an example. If you feel there is an issue with your headphones or any other hardware, you should let the examiners know immediately.

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For the uninitiated, the IELTS could seem to be quite intimidating. Even for a person who is quite fluent in the language, sitting for the test actually requires a great deal of concentration and attentiveness. So for a person who is not a regular user of English the requirement for a greater deal of commitment to study for the test is imperative.

  1. The IELTS test is designed to test a person’s operational usability and not just basic text book knowledge of the language. So it would help people, who do not use the language frequently, to watch English TV shows, movies, the news and reading other English print material like newspapers, magazines and many more. In addition, the most effective way would be to constantly use the language with someone who is more familiar with it, and request the person to correct you when required.
  2. Tip 2 is three fold. Practice! Practice! Practice! All centres provide candidates with study material and mock tests to help you with the actual test. These mock tests, when practiced at home, give you a sort of insight into what is required of each section, allowing you to devote most of your concentration into the actual test instead of the instructions. However, even though the mock tests and the actual test consist of the same instructions, candidates are strongly advised to listen to the instructions given by the examiners on the actual test day. Tip 2 just eliminates any confusion or unnecessary pressure that might creep into anyone’s mind, when hearing instructions for the first time. Tip 2 is just to get you to be prepared for what’s next.
  3. Time Management: All throughout your study and even on the actual test day, you are under constant pressure to find information quickly and respond accurately. Again the practice at home, allows you to ascertain how much of time you are allowed to spend on each question, thereby allowing you to be better prepared.
  4. Before the listening test starts you are provided with an example. This is a good time to familiarise yourself with the audio being played on your headphones. If you feel that there might be an issue with any of the hardware, sound related or anything else, you should let the examiners know immediately. The examiners are not allowed to stop the test midway to address a faulty piece of hardware.
  5. While listening to the audio, you should also read the questions that correspond to the part that is being played at the moment. Listen to the audio till the very end, even though there are no more questions remaining.
  6. Sometimes, the answers are not always very obvious. Most often than not the answers are in what is implied by the speaker, rather than what is actually spoken. Again, “practice” trains your mind to look out for these subtle implications.
  7. There are a lot of pauses all throughout the listening test to allow students to brace and prepare themselves for the next section. Use it wisely! 
  8. During the reading test, read through the entire passage before you attempt any questions. However, the passage can be read with a little less scrutiny, so much as to not spend too much time in understanding every single word. Remember, you have the text in front of you and unlike the listening test where you get to listen to the audio only once, you have the liberty to read the passage as many times as your heart desires. With that said, do not get tied up with matters of the heart at a timed test.
  9. Cheating on the IELTS test is a big “No No”! Don’t do it. The consequences of getting caught are simply just not worth the effort. Consequences may include you not being able to continue with the test to actually being “black marked” and not being able to write another IELTS again. Examiners are trained to not use their discretion but follow a strict set of rules laid out for them. So if you have gotten away with it in School, remember, the IELTS test atmosphere, is a whole different ball game.
  10. The reading test also has an example question and answer. Study the question and answer in a way so as to understand why the answer is correct.
  11. During the writing test it is important to pace yourself. Make a mental note of what you are going to write about and a deadline for when you are going to finish a certain task. Though it may be good and easy for a person with an artistic mind to get carried away while writing an essay, it might not be the best idea to stretch your artistic legs during an IELTS test.
  12. Organise the essay in your head before you bring pen to paper. If required make notes before you start. Ideally speaking, you should already have the basic idea of what you are trying to convey, a couple of minutes after reading the title.
  13. Try to use big words to display your ability. If you know what they mean though! If this is not the case, stick to the type of language you are comfortable with. Big words are cool, but they stand out like a pimple on a bride, when your basic sentence construction is all over the place.
  14. During the speaking test, it is not wise to attempt to speak in an accent that does not belong to you. Remember that this is a test of your English ability and not a “How well you can speak like the Queen of England” test. Get into your comfort zone. It helps.
  15. Stick to speaking about the topic you are given. The speaking test is recorded, and a recording device would be placed on the desk in front of you. As normal as it would be for human beings, under high pressure situations to get distracted by devices such as this, try as much as possible to ignore it. Speak to the person in front of you and not the recording device. It’s just polite!
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Want to know more about the IELTS?

Jyoti Sharma Jyoti Sharma,
Study abroad expert.
We offer in-person and online IELTS training sessions at our office. Request a call from our advisors for more information on test-prep guidance. Or call 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) today!