The majority of the students who wish to pass the IELTS exam doubt whether they can get a high score without the help of the tutors or any language courses. The answer is unequivocal – yes. Therefore, we will tell you how to do this based on the experience of other students who passed the test on their first attempt and got 8.0 out of 9.
Deciding on a difficult decision to take the test yourself, you can be surprised: there is enough material to prepare for the IELTS exam in the libraries, bookstores and the Internet. However, the same problem arises – there is a sense of chaos and it is unclear where to start and what to look for.
The most important thing in this section is practice. Practice speaking English with your friends, participate in the conversations in the speaking clubs in your city. Repeat the phrases from your favorite shows or movies in the English language to practice pronunciation and study the established expressions. Your task is to learn to speak as smoothly as possible and without any significant pauses.
Enrich Your Vocabulary
Get a dictionary with words and idioms on the topics that can happen in the test. This is not a full list, but the most basic topics are family, nature, food, innovations, fashion, hobbies, education, music, law, environment, entertainment, health, work, holiday, sports, personality, business, government, etc. The necessary words and expressions can be found on the Internet resources dedicated to the preparation for the IELTS exam. The most meaningful resources are IELTS Speaking and IELTS Liz. Do not try to remember 200 words on each topic! It is better to write down 20-50 thematic words but be sure that during the exam, when you worry in front of the examiner, you will remember them correctly. The more often you repeat the words, the better. A free resource Memrise will come in handy. It contains a collection of Vocabulary for IELTS, Cambridge Vocab for IELTS or IELTS High Score Vocabulary List. With them, you will not have to memorize any words because the training takes place with the help of the flashcards. Even 15 minutes of daily training will greatly improve your vocabulary. Mix learned words and expressions on various topics. For instance, the words on the topic of technology can be used in questions about the most important invention of the mankind, your hobbies, some school failures or your favorite things.
Topic to Speak About
Look at the topics that were on the real tests over the past few weeks. In practice, the questions for the Speaking section are often repeated in different countries, so it is a sin not to use this opportunity. The question can be monitored on the same resources as the Vocabulary. One of the typical problems during a test is a complete lack of ideas when you do not know how to answer the question. Imagine what you are talking about. Practice the 3D technology. Its essence is to form an answer in the measurement of three times: the past, the present and the future. As such, the story of your favorite hobby can begin with the fact that you liked walking in your childhood, then say that today you prefer reading in the park, but in the future you want to try mountain climbing. Add more details to each part, explain why you like every type of activity, how you choose it now or in the future, and so on. You can specify the memories associated with each lesson. Record your answers and listen to them repeating the cycle several times until the answer is completely satisfactory.
Writing (The Academic Module)
Evaluate the Essay
Ask your friends who already passed the IELTS exam to evaluate your essays. If there is no such possibility, you can compare your works with samples of the answers which are available on different resources. You may check IELTS Material for this. What is more, some useful tips for this section can be found on engVid. Make sure to come up with a plan for your answer. Otherwise, it can come out chaotic and illogical. Learn not only words, but also their synonyms. For example, to describe some significant changes in trends, you can use the following words: sharply, dramatically, drastically, and for gradual changes – steadily, gradually. Synonyms can also be used to refer to numbers – instead of a «quarter of» one can say «25 percent», « 1 in 4» or «1 out of 4».
Use Answer Sheet in the Process of Preparation
First of all, write the answers only on this sheet so you will understand how much time and space on the paper you need to write everything down. Secondly, write with a pencil because it is better to erase what was written by an elastic band than to scratch it with a pen and lose some precious space on the sheet. Thirdly, leave at least one line after each paragraph in order to have some free space in case some idea or a conclusion suddenly comes to mind.
Check the Number of Words
If there are significantly fewer words in your answers (150 for Writing task 1 and 250 for Writing task 2), then your score may suffer from it greatly. Therefore, when you are done, check the approximate number of words by multiplying the number of words in a line by the number of lines – there are about 5-7 words in a line. Remember the rule of playing safe when you are preparing an essay. Use only those constructions and words that you are completely sure of.
This Is a Multitask Test
This requires you to fill in the missing words correctly and choose the right answers while listening to the recording. Naturally, it is not an easy task. This is why you have to dedicate a lot of time to practice your skills. You will have plenty of time to review the test tasks before the actual exam. Begin doing this immediately – as soon as the examiners allow you to open the notebooks with the tests. Do not listen to the recorded audio instructions: you already know them well enough. However, read and emphasize the keywords in the questions and answers. You should always be ahead of the audio record – you can ready up to even four questions in advance. Then, you will be able to predict which questions require the entry of numbers, addresses, dates, etc. Thus, you may be able to focus on finding the right information during the listening part.
The Instruction Is Critical During the Test
Look at the number of words or digits you need to specify in the response. Different options are possible here: one word and/or a number, no more than two words and/or numbers, and so on. Mark the necessary quantity of signs opposite to a task with a pencil. Hence, you will not make any annoying mistakes when transferring the answers into the form when you definitely will not have enough time to carefully read the instructions.
Practice Writing Numbers and Names
First of all, practice writing traditional English names and surnames. In addition to that, look at the rules of the pronunciation of the telephone numbers and addresses. In particular, pay attention to the use of doubles and triples in cases where the numbers or letters in the word are repeated.
Practice Taking Notes of the Information from the Maps
This is one of the most insidious types of tasks in the listening section. Make sure that you can quickly navigate in the designations of the side of the world (North, South, East and West), location (at the top, at the bottom, opposite) or other similar information. Draw the arrows in the directions and points on the map while listening to follow the description.
Pay Attention to the Common Pitfalls
For instance, it may happen that one of the participants tells some information (most often – a phone number, an address, a time period or a name), and later corrects it in the dialogue. For example, the two friends want to meet at 9 am, but then one of them remembers that he or she has another thing to do and asks to meet at half past ten instead. In the end, the answer to the question «When did the interlocutors agree to meet?» will not be 9 am, but 10.30 am.
Another trap is the big gap between the answers, especially in the last and the most complex fourth part of the audition. It consists of 30 seconds of the dialogue, so you may not hear the right answer immediately and you think that the necessary information has already been missed. Thus, you start panicking while reading the following questions and losing the course of the conversation completely. In such cases, you have to calm down, concentrate and listen carefully. To avoid all errors associated with writing specific letters in different names, fill out the answer sheet only in the capital letters.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice is vital, which is why you have to practice more often. 12 books of the Cambridge IELTS will be more than enough for this. You should start with a relatively new sixth or seventh book. Remember that it is worth practicing without the headphones: quite possibly, during a real test in a huge hall, you will end up sitting with more than a hundred participants.
The Topics Are Very Different
They range from monitoring the safety of the flights in the US to the structure of lasers, so read as much as possible while preparing. Surround yourself with the English texts: for example, make the BBC Learning English your new home page, browse the websites of some famous media channels, like The Economist and New Scientist. We strongly recommend listening to the podcast «6 Minute English» by BBC. These are short themed entries with an emphasis on learning some new words that will not take much time but will bring you a lot of benefit. Many lifehacks for Listening also work for the Reading section, especially with respect to the underlining of keywords and marks on the number of words or figures that you enter or choose.
The Main Idea
Scan the text to understand the general idea of the passage. Read the first sentence of each paragraph, but make sure it takes no longer than 2 minutes. Do not read the whole text: you will not have enough time for it. Of course, some parts of the text will have to be read in detail, but in general, the Reading section is not about an in-depth understanding of all information, but about the ability to find the answers you need. So, read the questions immediately: emphasize the keywords in both questions and answers, and then look for the context in the text.
Carefully Perceive the Simple Solutions
When the answer is the same word as in the paragraph, this does not mean that the correct answer is found. On the contrary, you can be tricked one more time. Remember that you are looking for the paraphrased expressions and not the identical words.
And finally, the most important thing – listen to the advice, try different options, but try to understand what works best for you. Good luck!