testing times: ielts

Understand the English of IELTS

When it comes to realising the dream of studying abroad, there are several tests and barriers that you will have to cross.

Understand the English of IELTS

Gurinder Bhatti

When it comes to realising the dream of studying abroad, there are several tests and barriers that you will have to cross. Besides a well-written application and visa, getting a high score in examinations like SAT and IELTS is essential for the dream to come true. 

Over 10,000 institutes of higher learning in English-speaking countries, like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, use your score in the exams as the evidence of your proficiency in English. Scoring well in the exams let the institutes know how good your language skills are. Not doing well in these exams can even lead to rejection of application. To help you get through this examination, here are a few useful tips for your IELTS examination preparation:

Find and address weaknesses

The most efficient way to improve is to spot your weaknesses and work on them. While applying abroad, you will have dozens of things to deal with and prepare for. The more efficiently you prepare for IELTS, the better it will be. 

Take some mock tests and let the results guide you. Note down questions that you often get wrong. Understand the shortcomings with a particular subject or field of knowledge. Also, review if it  is a type of question that is leaving you stumped.

In case of IELTS, a candidate is tested on her reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Additionally, your grammar is evaluated throughout. Being able to identify where you are struggling the most will help you focus on that issue and practice it. If your writing is affecting your score, then work on improving it. Pay the written part more attention as compared to other sections. 

Self-evaluate for results

Taking mock tests to find your weaknesses is just the first part of the self-evaluation. Taking online and offline mock tests will help you understand the pattern of the exam. You will also be able to decide which structure to follow, which words and vocabulary to use, how to put those words in a well-constructed sentence.... Taking exams also promise the added benefit of making you used to the entire process and steadying your nerves for the actual examination.

Develop vocabulary

IELTS tests your vocabulary. In a bid to perform well, students often rote-learn new words. However, vocabulary is not about mugging up new words, but understanding how and when should these be used contextually. The best way to expand your vocabulary is to learn a new word, and then make it a point to use it in a conversation. To become familiar with a word and to recognise the best ways and forms to use it, make it a point to read examples of it being used in literature or newspapers. During the exam, speak confidently and directly to the examiner and be careful and precise in what you say.

The last word 

The idea is not to impress the examiner with what you know, but how you communicate it makes the difference. Organise and link your ideas, make appropriately structured sentences, speak clearly and lucidly, and use the right words at the right time to express yourself.

Polish up reading

The reading module of the IELTS might seem simple, but it is as challenging as other segments. It requires comprehensive and thorough reading within a time slot. There are several recommended methods that help people crack this section. Some suggest reading the questions first and then noting down the answers as these appear in the passage and answering them. Another is to read the topic of the passage, go through the first and last lines of each paragraph, and then move to the questions to understand what exactly has to be found while reading the entire passage. Essentially, you have to practice this and determine what approach works best for you. Once you have decided on the approach, put it into use for desired results. 

Focus on skill improvement

As your language begins to gets better, focus on method and process. Improve your listening skills by familiarising yourself with sounds, situations, and speakers. Make a note of minor issues as well and focus on them after your basic preparation is through. Involve friends and family in your preparation. Let them help you understand your shortcomings. Getting consistent feedback from someone you trust will help you objectively analyse your preparation and performance. Also, to improve on listening, take mock tests.

The writer is chairman and MD, ESS Global

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