Last Updated: February 17, 2021
Preparing for IELTS
IELTS is an English proficiency test conducted internationally for both applying for higher education and for visa clearance to English-speaking countries. The importance of the test is in recognizing the level of your language skills through rigorous testing of listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Preparing for a language proficiency test can be challenging for even those who are well versed in the language. Most people may excel in reading and writing skills but still, be weak in listening or speaking. This requires the right kind of grooming before the exam so that your band score increases above the average of 6 or 7. We have listed out the best ways to follow in preparing for the IELTS in under a month.
Register for the Test
The first step before preparing for any exam is to register for it. Registering for IELTS gives you a deadline to create your perfect study schedule. You can either download an application form and send it along with a photostat of your identity document and a passport size photograph. Or you can choose the much efficient online method which lets you both fix a test center and test date without hassle.
While registering through the online mode, you will initially be asked to choose a test center. You can either choose this from a scroll list or filter it out by typing your state and clicking search. You will be able to see the number of test centers in your locality and choose one accordingly. After this, you will be asked to choose which test you are taking- Academic or General Training. And then you will be asked to decide which model of the examination would you prefer- the paper-based mode or the computer version of the test.
All these choices will contribute to your study plan. Preparation for each of these types of tests is different and has to be chosen accordingly. Ensure that the type of test you take is the one accepted by the institution of your choice.
Understand the Format
The IELTS exam consists of 4 sections regardless of the type you choose. The four sections are Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking
where the Reading and Writing sections are different according to the test type.
The Speaking test is often not conducted on the same day as the 3 other sections. It is attempted 7 days before or after the 3 tests.
To sum up the format,
|Listening||4 parts||40 Questions||30 minutes|
|Reading||3 parts||40 Questions||60 minutes|
|Writing||2 tasks||60 minutes|
|Speaking||3 parts||11-14 minutes|
Understanding the format and the time frame lets you prepare for the test better according to the test you have chosen. You can learn to type/ write content on various topics in the given time frame as a method of practice.
It is suggested that you keep at least 1-2 days off to study the exam format and the grading system so that the exam pattern remains clear in your mind throughout the preparation period.
Focus on Individual Sections
- There are four distinct sections in the test. Though these sections may seem similar to one another, do NOT train for all of them at once. They all deserve individualized strategical learning to receive a higher band score.
- The ideal study plan will include a rotation of sections with 2 days devoted to each section at a time. Follow the order of the test and begin with the Listening section.
- Do NOT slack while learning for the Listening section. It takes time to master different accents and identify them in a context while listening to passages. Check how much information you can retain after listening to the passage just once. This practice is necessary because the original test also lets you listen to the audio just once before you are asked to answer the questions.
- Focus on the Listening and Speaking sections if you think you have grasped the language well. These are the two sections where people tend to lose marks.
- Once you have completed the four sections in the first 8 days, move on to the Official Practice Papers available. Practice and assess where you stand before you repeat the entire process.
- Leave the final 2 days for practice. Do NOT cram information like vocabulary on the final days. Give yourself time to relax and retain what you have already learned.
- Listen to audio clips that are available online.
- Focus on different accents like British English, North American English, Australian/ New Zealand/ South African English, than any particular one.
- Rely on BBC channels when you want to stick to a particular accent.
- Audio-books, audio magazines, and TV shows can help you in this cause.
- Listening is not a skill learned in a day. Give yourself time to understand the different accents.
- Ideally, converse with an English speaker than preparing by yourself.
- The aim is to articulate your thoughts and ideas in a manner that is understandable to an English speaker.
- Practice speaking in front of people who give honest feedback, in case you do not have an English speaker with whom you can practice.
- Continually converse in English until you get the hang of thinking out loud in the language.
- Focus on the pronunciation once you are confident in articulating your thoughts.
- Practice speaking about yourself and about general topics. Good English speakers often receive a lower score because of their inhibition in speaking out what they think.
- Skim through the passages when you receive a lengthy paragraph. Do NOT invest time in reading the paragraph word by word.
- Read the questions after you have read the first two lines of every paragraph.
- Get back to the passage after you have understood the questions and then scan the passage for the answers.
- Find keywords that you have seen in the questions and place them in the passage for quicker answers.
- Find reading techniques that suit your way of reading and stick to them.
- Practice as many passages as possible before the test.
- Practice writing above 250 words on different topics.
- Include an introduction, body, and conclusion within the 250 words.
- Time yourself when you practice. The first task should ideally be completed within 20 minutes and the second in under 40 minutes with time to spare for correction. Keep these timings in mind when you practice.
- Correct what you write. Look for spelling errors, grammatical inaccuracies, and other technical errors that might cause you to lose marks.
- Ensure that you add vocabulary that you have recently acquired to craft the writing better.
Check out Sample Questions
After you have focused individually on the sections, it is time for you to check out sample questions available online pertaining to each of these sections individually. These sample questions may be tackled at the end of each section or together after you are done with all of the sections.
Sample questions are necessary to understand if the topics and accents you are practicing with are relevant to the test or if you have gone off track during preparation. While preparing with sample questions, you needn’t focus on the time constraints. Keep focusing on the language, the spelling. Pronunciation and other grammatical technicalities. Give this time for preparation and allow yourself to make mistakes.
Once you have attempted enough sample questions and feel confident enough to take the test, move on to practice tests, and from then, time yourself according to the exam pattern.
Take Practice Tests
Practice with the Official materials available on the official website
for a better idea of what to expect during the official test.
These official practice materials have been designed by the test makers to get you an idea of the test and provide you with sample questions. They include a CD and DVD with samples of the Listening test. It also includes sample answers for the Speaking section with which you can create speeches about yourself.
There are innumerable sample questions available in the form of books and e-books. But these are the only materials endorsed by the IELTS makers. They can be purchased from the Cambridge University Press or from your local IELTS Test Centers.
Consider Taking a Prep Course
If you are not a fluent speaker of the language or preparing by yourself is demanding too much of your time, consider taking online preparation courses. The official site offers guidance and other preparation tips that can be accessed. Apart from them, there are innumerable coaching centers and sites that provide crash courses in a month.
Finding the right preparation course amongst all the available options can seem to be a task in itself. We recommend that you make use of the preparation courses offered in IELTS Centers and language schools
available worldwide. They provide training that is as close as it can get to the official test and can help you focus your study in a definite direction.
Understand that a preparation course isn’t necessary unless you are struggling immensely with the language or if you are unable to focus without external pressure. It can also help you if the stress of risking your future through self-prep is keeping you from the preparation itself.
Mastering a language in under a month can put you under a lot of pressure. Keep a relaxed mind and focus less on the rules and more on communicating your thought whether it be through writing or speaking.
Your scores may vary depending upon your performance on one particular day and it shouldn’t be the mark you rely on. Relaxing before the day of the exam is extremely important for you to organize your thoughts and coherently deliver them both in person and in the paper.