06   Tips for success in IELTS test
by Dr Dharmendra Sheth and Mr Hasmukh Umaria

 

You may have heard people talking about IELTS, the full form of which is International English Language Testing System. People who want to study, work or settle abroad need to appear for this examination. Some of course take this test to know where they stand and use the IELTS score as evidence of their English language proficiency.

 

The IELTS test is co-owned and was co-created by a global partnership of education and language experts: IDP: IELTS Australia, the British Council and Cambridge English Language Assessment. In India, this examination is conducted by The British Council and IDP India. It is one of the few standardized and reliable tests. There are two modules of IELTS to choose from: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. For admission to universities abroad, one has to appear for the Academic module and for migration, the General Training module. Different universities require different band scores. All IELTS scores are between 0 and 9. You can also get 0.5 scores as well (for example, 6.5 or 7.5). You will get a band score for each skill—listening, reading, writing and speaking—and also an overall band score, which is the average score of all the skills. The IELTS score is valid for two years. If you are (or anyone you know is) appearing for this test, here are some tips.

 

First of all, the IELTS does not have a fixed syllabus to study before the test. It is a skill based test. There are books and other materials to practice from. There are books containing test papers which can give you an idea about the format of the test. However, just practising test papers is not enough. You need to work on the language—systematic study of the English language helps. Because the examination indirectly tests your overall command of English which includes vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

There are four sections of the test—listening, reading, writing and speaking. For the details of the format of each section, refer to www.ielts.org. Following are the tips for getting your desired score in each section.

 

Listening:

  • Listen to authentic English on BBC because a large part of the audio material for listening is based on British English.
  • Do intensive listening for 3 minutes, i.e., try to listen to and catch each and every word spoken. It might help to write it out, and compare it with the transcript if available.
  • Listen to different varieties of English so that you are attuned to different English accents.
  • Listen to different types of English programmes such as talks, discussions, documentaries and presentations so that you get used to connected speech and the use of contractions.

 

Reading:

  • Read a lot.
  • Read a variety of texts such as magazines, newspapers, stories and novels.
  • Increase your reading speed by practicing the techniques of skimming and scanning.
  • Learn to identify and underline key words.
  • Practise using the context and the co-text to guess at meanings of unfamiliar words.
  • Note how signposts or signal words are used to achieve coherence.
  • Try to follow the writer’s viewpoints.

 

Writing:

  • Understand the topic and the task.
  • Brainstorm the topic for ideas.
  • Prepare an outline.
  • Arrange your ideas into a sequence.
  • Keep one idea per paragraph.
  • Stick to the word limit.
  • Proofread your writing.
  • Keep the time limit in mind throughout.

 

Speaking:

  • Practise speaking as often as you can according to the test format.
  • Have a feel for the time limit.
  • Talk with people who are better than you at speaking English so that you are not stunned when you take the actual test.
  • Improve your diction.
  • Pause at appropriate places while speaking.
  • Use the right intonation.
  • Listen carefully and understand the question before answering.
  • Practise mock speaking tests with friends.

 

Please note that the listening test and the speaking test are common to both Academic and General Training Modules.

 

For more tips and personal guidance, please contact us.

 

Meanwhile, I suggest you practise English using some of the excellent study material given on the British Council website.

Happy learning and best wishes.