June 10, 2019

IELTS Six Big Mistakes to Avoid for High Bands

The most popular English Language Exam in the world right now is the IELTS, or International English Language Testing System.  From immigration departments to most popular Universities require candidates to prove their ability towards the language. This is usually acquired if you plan to study, migrate or work abroad in certain countries such as the UK, US, CANADA, New Zealand, and Australia. The test is used to measure how proficient you are in the four areas of communication which are Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Honestly saying that it is not an easy test.

  1. Time management

This is one of the popular IELTS mistakes made by test takers. It can be tough to complete the test within a certain time span and so, time management skills are critical when taking the IELTS exam. There is no point in spending a lot of time on one question and then little time on another.

It’s important to know exactly how much time is needed on each question. This way, you can answer each question fully to the best of your abilities. You might even consider a strategy. For example, by answering shorter questions first, you can minimize the amount of brainstorming. Time is of the essence! Time is of the essence!

2. Learn the grading criteria inside out

The secret to nailing any test is understanding what a great answer looks like. The IELTS assessment criteria are your best friend, and should be the blueprint for all of your answers! The following are the standards by which you will be judged. In order to achieve the grade you need, you need to make sure you master them thoroughly. This is especially important with speaking and writing tests, where your answers are judged on fairly subjective factors. You can also take a look at some example answers online, but make sure they are from trustworthy sources. The IELTS exam boards’ own websites and official textbooks are a great place to start.

Bear in mind: one of the most unusual things about this test is that you are expected to get quite a lot wrong! People who need to achieve a band 4 score take the same exam as those who need to achieve a band 8. Part of learning about the grading criteria is learning how many questions you can afford to get wrong. For example, if you’re trying to achieve a band 6 in the academic reading test, you only need to gain 23 correct answers out of 40. Pretty reassuring!

Action item: print off a sample answer sheet that has achieved the grade you’re aiming for, and go through it. For maximum effect, do this exercise with an IELTS specialist tutor to check that all of your connections are correct.

4. Blank answers

I’ll give you a quick tip: don’t leave any questions blank. This is extremely crucial. Rather than leaving it blank, write something when you are unsure of the answer. Making a guess still increases your chances of getting part marks. You won’t lose out on anything by simply trying. Who knows, your guess might even be correct!

5. Take more practice tests than you think you need to

Every test is a set of skills to master in itself, and the IELTS is an especially tricky set of skills. Test-taking should become a regular part of your study routine, long before you feel completely prepared.

There are some skills you’ll need for the IELTS that only practice tests can improve. According to Asiya of Fasttrack IELTS, “In my opinion, the biggest challenge of the IELTS exam is time pressure.” There’s a lot to cover in those 2½ hours, and you’ll need to learn to work quickly and strategically. For example, in the first writing task, you’ll need to spend about 20 minutes writing about 150 words. Only experience can tell you what writing 150 words in 20 minutes looks and feels like.

It’s not just the writing section of the test where a high score requires practice. According to the terms of ielts “Multitasking is key for the listening section of the exam. You need to be able to listen while answering questions and making notes.” Attempting some IELTS listening tests will help you develop this skill.

Try to take at least one of each skill test per week in the run-up to the test. Regularly attempting all sections will help you perfect your pacing and strategy. If you can, ask a tutor to mark your exam papers, and talk through any weaknesses you could work on.

6. Mispronunciation

IELTS test markers are aware you are an international student. Of course, this is a test of English proficiency! With this being said, your accent will not cause you to lose any points. However, the way you pronounce English words will.

You must ensure you are saying each word fully and clearly. For instance, if you are pronouncing the word ‘probably’ you shouldn’t say ‘probably’ as that’s incorrect. The best way to tackle this is to practice, practice, practice. You might even consider practicing with a native English speaker.

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