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How to prepare for the IELTS exam

The right approach for IELTS preparation is what you need to score high on the ILETS exam. Here is a complete guide to help you prepare well for the exam.  A good score is essential for one to qualify for an admission in a good college, qualifying for work or immigration, where English is the primary language used for communication. Preparing for the IELTS test becomes a challenge for non-English speakers or for those who know English as a secondary language.

However, it is not an unsurmountable task. With determination and the right support, aspirants prepare well and clear IELTS with high band scores, to realise their academic and professional goals. Let us look at some key points that can help you prepare better and score high in the IELTS exam

Know the IELTS test format

There are two types of IELTS:  Academic and General Training. Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all the IELTS tests are completed on the same day. The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

IELTS uses a nine-band scale to score and identify the proficiency levels of the test-takers. Band score 1 means a non-user and band score 9 indicates an expert user.

Diagnostic Test

Irrespective of your proficiency level, before starting the preparation for the exam always take a test to see where you stand.

A diagnostic test will help you identify the areas you are strong in and ones that need attention, to help you improve your final band score. Being aware of one’s strengths and weakness is vital before starting the preparation for the IELTS exam as it will help you maximize your efforts in the right direction.

Prep Classes

For non-native speakers, preparing for the IELTS exam through self-study may become a challenge at some point or the other as one needs constant guidance on the progress one is making. Taking prep classes can help one prepare better on many accounts. Certified trainers, right learning tools and co-learners to discuss and engage with, will prove to be more productive during the preparation phase than trying to guess and learn alone.

Read, Read, Read

Reading is an important element in the preparation. Make it your goal to study at least two good articles from leading newspapers every day on different subjects such as current affairs and finance.

Additionally, you can read short –stories if you are a beginner or non-fictional books from renowned authors. Be careful of books written in sub-standard English. They will do more harm than good.

Underline Words While Reading

While practicing reading, underline the words you do not the meaning of. Look for them in the dictionary or Google to immediately understand their meaning in the context they have been written. This will help you increase your vocabulary and understand its usage too. 

Learn to Use New Words

Once you come across new words and their meaning, make it a point to start using those words. Your goal should be to use a new word daily in your verbal or written communication. If you quickly want to enrich your vocabulary, putting the newly learned words to practice in your daily conversations is the only way to go.

Watch English Movies or series

The IETLS exam tests students on their ability to express their thoughts and opinions, give descriptive details or accounts, balance an argument, understand a different perspective and suggest solutions. This is especially true for the written and speaking sections of the exam.

Watching American/British English movies or series with subtitles is a good way to learn and improve upon your proficiency in the language. While watching a movie or series keep the following in mind:

  • The main plot or idea of the story
  • Main characters and their characteristics
  • High points of the story

After you are done watching, elaborate on the above-mentioned points. You can write or converse. Following this practice regularly will help you improve your ability to express yourself in the language, and will simultaneously help you in your understanding of different accents.

Record Yourself

As you speak to practice in preparation for the IELTS exam, recording your audio will help you a great deal. As you listen to yourself, besides vocabulary and grammatical mistakes you will become aware of your tone and speaking style, which you can improve upon gradually.

Your trainer can help you identify the mistakes you may not be aware of or may have missed in the recording. Looping the feedback given by your trainer, record yourself again to track the progress you made.

Practice Writing for Graph, Diagram based Questions

Graph or data-based questions are the ones students struggle with the most in the written section. Make it a habit to practice these questions regularly. Other than test prep books, read financial newspapers to understand how a given graph or data-based diagram is described in the article. Pay close attention to how and where data points have been used to support a point.

This practice will help increase the understanding of data-based questions and improve the ability to answer such questions in a concise and clear manner. 

Time Yourself

Whether you are practicing reading, writing or listening do not forget to time yourself. Make it a habit from the very start of your preparation, but without stressing yourself out. Timing is vital especially for writing as you need to ensure that you don’t just answer all the questions but also have enough time to proof-read your answers on the test day. Proof-reading is important to correct the mistakes you may have made in the first draft. This being a language test, you cannot risk grammatical mistakes, no matter how small.

Take Regular Mock Tests

A vital aspect of preparation for the IETLS exam is to take regular mock tests. These tests will help in getting familiarize with the test pattern, style, and question topics. They will also help you improve your timing. As you keep practicing, you will improve the total time taken to complete the test.

IELTS is a test trusted by over 10,000 organisations, including universities, professional bodies, employers and migration authorities. Especially for those aspiring to study abroad IELTS qualification is considered a reliable indication of one’s ability to pursue their higher education in English. Hence, a good performance in the test will be a deciding factor in one’s success. Following the above-mentioned points will help you in that direction, by helping you prepare well and score high.

If this article has helped you chose your own way of IELTS preparation then schedule your IELTS exam and figure out the IELTS test dates at your local test centers, please share it and help others register for the IELTS.

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