by JUDE CONROY
IELTS is now one of the most popular tests for students to take around the world, and here at VGC. Because it is recognized worldwide, students take it for many reasons; to get into university or college, for a visa or immigration purposes, or just to have proof of their level of English proficiency.
Whatever the reason for taking the test, many students find it stressful, but there are some things you can do to help make it a little easier:
1.) Do your research. If you want to go to college, or need this test for a visa, find out what score you need before you start studying. You can study much more effectively if you have a clear goal and it’s much easier for your teacher to help you too.
2.) Be realistic. Think about how long you will need to study to achieve your goal and give yourself a realistic time limit. No-one can learn well if they’re feeling stressed and rushing through everything. If you’re not sure how long it will take, ask someone who can help you to work it out.
3.) Study every day. If you want to be successful then it’s important to study every day. This will help you improve both your language skills and your test skills, as well as your confidence. But…
4.) Don’t overload yourself. Be realistic about what you can achieve. No-one can concentrate well for hours and hours without a break. Study one section of the test then take a break.
5.) Remember – IELTS is an English test. There’s a popular idea that studying IELTS is a totally separate thing – but it’s not. While it is different to studying general English – it is still testing your English level. Anything you do to improve your English will also help you get a better score on the test. This means you don’t have to limit yourself only to IELTS material – reading a novel, listening to a podcast and having a conversation will also help you improve.
6.) Don’t believe everything you read online. There a LOT of IELTS sites online. Some of them are really good and some of them are less reliable. Find one or two good websites and use these. www.dcielts.com is a really good place to start.
7.) Timing is everything. In IELTS, everything you do is on a very tight time limit. It’s important to do some of your exam practice in timed conditions so you get used to this. It’s also important to get used to studying without a cellphone!
8.) Don’t waste time! Like I said before, you are a time limit, so it’s important to use this time wisely – this means don’t waste time trying to make your answers look perfect. Don’t erase things, don’t try and make your handwriting perfect, you don’t have time. As long as your examiner can read it, it’s OK – you don’t get extra marks for presentation.
9.) Spelling is important! If you spell an answer wrong in your reading or listening, it will be marked incorrect. If you know your spelling is a weak point, practice this. Reading a lot also helps improve spelling (as well as vocabulary)
10.) Don’t panic! The most common thing we hear from student is “but it’s difficult!!’ Remember – there’s a big difference between ‘difficult’ and ‘impossible’. IELTS is a challenging test for sure but it’s definitely not impossible – millions of people have successfully taken the exam and if you work hard, you can be one of these people.
To learn more about VGC’s IELTS Preparation Program please take a look at this section on our website or speak to your VGC Counselor – we’re happy to help!