How to make the best of your IELTS Exam
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and it is used to evaluate the English language skills of those who plan to study or work in an English speaking environment.
Over 2 million people take the IELTS examination every year because it is recognised by universities, employers, professional bodies and immigration authorities in many countries and it opens doors for further study, employment and migration to Australia and other English speaking nations.
Most universities and private colleges require a certain score (usually between 5 and 7) in order to allow entry of students from non English speaking backgrounds and the test is compulsory for migration purposes for those hoping to stay long term.
The IELTS exam is internationally focused with its content accepting all standard varieties of English and using a range of accents in the listening component.
Furthermore, IELTS has over 800 test centres in more than 130 countries and 48 of them are in fact to be found in Australia and the results of the test are valid for 2 years.
IELTS is made up of four components: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The test is offered in both academic and general formats, the academic being for those who want to to gain admittance to higher education programs whereas the general is for those planning do work experience and/or training programs as well as for immigration.
To make sure you pass the test, take a few minutes to read our suggestions below.
Before taking the test:
1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Work on your weaknesses to make sure it does not negatively affect your total score. For example, if you’re a slow reader, focus on the reading test more than writing, listening and speaking tests.
2. Study the official material
Attend an IELTS preparation course, if possible. The preparation courses provide you with the IELTS material, as well as the tips and tricks that you need to know. If you don’t have access to IELTS preparation courses, you can hire a qualified private teacher instead. An English teacher will also help you make a study plan.
3. Practice until you feel confident
Practice boosts your self-confidence. For the speaking test, find a friend to practice speaking English with. While reading English magazines, practice skimming the texts for the reading test. Watch movies in English language every night and surround yourself with English language news and songs to improve your listening skills.
4. Practice under time pressure
Test yourself in a 2 hours and 45 minutes time-frame just like the exam day. This will help you get to know what it feels like to take the reading, writing and listening tests consecutively. The more you practice under time pressure, the better you can manage your time.
5. Check out the official IELTS website
The official IELTS website is the best source of information for IELTS candidates. You can read about the rules and regulations of the test, the test format, and find useful IELTS exam tips and materials such as books, tests and videos on the website.
6. Check the location of the exam
In order to be on time on the exam day, make sure that you know exactly where the IELTS test center is and find out how to access the location.
On the test day:
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Make sure that you get enough rest the night before the IELTS test as tiredness will directly affect your ability to concentrate.
2. Eat breakfast
Eat a good meal before the exam. Your brain definitely functions better when you’re not hungry.
3. Wear comfortable clothes
Wear appropriate clothing that won’t distract you from concentrating on the exam. Don’t wear clothes that are too tight, and consider the fact that the exam room might be cold or warm so dress in layers.
4. Take a soda to the exam hall
You are allowed to take a transparent bottle of water, pencil, eraser and passport to the exam hall. But instead of water, you can also take a bottle of soda to keep your awareness and blood sugar high as it contains both caffeine and sugar.
5. Pay attention to spelling & punctuation
Spelling and punctuation are very important throughout the entire IELTS test and you’ll lose points if your answers are spelled incorrectly or you use punctuation incorrectly.
6. Pay attention to the word limits
Keep in mind that you will lose marks if you exceed the word limits. So pay attention to where the answers should be “not more than three words.” as well as the writing tasks, which should be 250 and 150 words.
IELTS Test time:
1. Tips for the IELTS writing test
- Don’t use spoken English in your writing.
- Write Task 2 first, as it contributes more to your total score.
- Make sure your handwriting is legible, tidy, and neat.
2. Tips for the IELTS reading test:
- Don’t spend too much time on the questions you can’t find an answer for. Move to the next question and get back to that question if you have any time left at the end.
- Read all the questions and underline the keywords before reading each text.
3. Tips for the IELTS listening test:
- Skim the questions before listening to the recordings.
- Make sure that you can write the dates in the correct format.
- If you have any problem hearing the recordings, raise your hand and ask for help.
- Practice on both British and American pronunciations, as some numbers and words are pronounced differently.
4. Tips for the IELTS speaking test
- Listen to the questions carefully before you answer.
- Don’t answer the question if you’re unsure about what to answer. You can ask the examiner to repeat or clarify the question for you.
- Be confident and relaxed, and do your best.