IELTS Strategies and Tips:
IELTS band scores range from 1-9 with 9 the perfect score. There’s no 10 as others think! Listening and Reading are objective tests so raw scores have equivalent band scores. For e.g. 30 in Listening and Reading Academic equals band 7 while 30 in Reading General Training means band 6.
Writing and Speaking on the other hand are based on the marking assessment criteria. In Writing for instance, aspects such as Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Vocabulary and Grammar are evaluated with corresponding band descriptors. Speaking however is based on a candidates Fluency, Vocabulary, Grammar and Pronunciation. It is therefore vital to be aware of these factors before taking the exam.
IELTS Strategies and Tips:
Multiple Choice Questions:
- Since you will always be given time to have a look at the questions, maximize that time to prepare. Underline or encircle keywords (nouns or names of things, adjectives, verbs, dates, numbers etc.) to serve as your guide as you listen. This includes important terms from each answer option (A,B,C).
- Expect that the speaker will paraphrase (using synonyms) the keywords you’ve marked.
- Don’t just match words, “match meaning”. It doesn’t mean that you’ve heard something from letter ‘A’, the answer is option A. You need to make sure that the idea or concept from the answer option and from what the speaker said matches.
- Use the time to prepare to look and study the map. (What would you analyze?) Well, you need to encircle the landmarks (names of places) in the picture.
- Then, besides those landmarks, you will see the letters or answer options situated on various locations on the picture. Predict how the speaker might describe each of them.
- Once the speaker starts the discussion, listen for words that describe directions such as ‘north’, ‘south’, ‘to the left of’, ‘behind’, ‘across’, ‘to the easternmost part of’, ‘next to’, ‘beside’ etc. along with the landmarks given on the picture.
- Once you have already chosen an answer option (e.g A,B,C etc), please just mark that spot with the number representing the location being described. Just write no. 17, 18, 19, (or whatever item number you have) on the map itself beside the letter you’ve selected. That way, you won’t look elsewhere and you won’t take your eyes off the map.
Fill in the blanks:
- Pay attention to your word limit as the instruction will always tell you how many words you’re allowed to write to complete the sentences or phrases (e.g “one word only”, “no more than two words” etc.)
- Again use the 30-second preparation time at the start of each section to prepare and underline keywords before and after the blank.
- Don’t leave any item blank. If you missed the part, then just make a guess and think of any word that might complete the sentence. That will still give you a probability of guessing it right compared to if you haven’t written anything on the blank.
- Use your power of prediction to guess what type of word you should listen for. Are you waiting for a noun (names of people or things)? Does the sentence with the missing word require an adjective (words for describing nouns) or verbs (action words)? Or maybe you are just to listen for an amount or a number. That will all depend on your keywords given on the question.
For example: She has three __________. (In this case, you have to wait for a noun since a verb or an adjective won’t be appropriate to complete this idea. The answer could be anything from ‘hats’, ‘daughters’, ‘bags’ etc. (as long as it’s a noun) and it should be in “plural form” (means the word should have ‘s’) since the word ‘three’ before the blank was present.
- Be careful and alert on those portions where the speaker has second thoughts. Always make sure that you wait for the speaker to finish explaining a certain thought. Watch out for words that contradict the previous idea like ‘no’, ‘never’, ‘however’, ‘but’, ‘although’ ‘actually’ etc.
- If you completely missed the conversation or part of the lecture on a specific item, don’t panic. Just move forward and give your full concentration on the succeeding items.
- Answers are in order in this type of question, which means that the ideas from the question come in sequence from the paragraphs.
- Only write ‘False’ if you found the exact opposite of the information from the question and ‘Not Given’ if the information is not mentioned in the passage or if at least one idea is still missing.
Question statement: Ana loves to drink coffee each morning.
Passage information: Ana loves to drink coffee.
Answer: Not Given (because the passage did not indicate when she usually drinks coffee – ‘each morning’)
*It can be ‘False’ though if in the passage, you’ve read ‘exact opposite’ information like:
‘Ana does not drink coffee’ or if ‘Ana drinks coffee each evening’
- Always read the instructions because sometimes it’s Yes, No, Not Given.
- Do not write initials (T,F,NG); instead, write the whole word (True, False, Not Given)
- Do NOT make assumptions and base your answer on what’s explicitly stated from the text.
Matching Headings to Paragraphs (also applies for matching information to a paragraph)
- Go straight to the paragraphs. Try reading the topic sentences of each paragraph (first to second sentences in the beginning and at the end of a paragraph) and see if you can already match that paragraph to one of the given headings or titles.
- If the paragraph is short, then read everything.
- Mark keywords as you read.
- Read titles one by one, and even if you’ve selected an answer along the way, keep reading until the last title before deciding.
Matching Information to Paragraphs:
Option 1: Read each question, choose keywords to remember and look for the paragraph with the same meaning and synonyms.
Option 2: Read each paragraph first, understand the idea, and then go to the statements from the question and select one that matches.
Note* Notice if there’s NB instruction which means answers might repeat.
- Get keywords before the gap and after the gap from the questions.
- Locate synonyms of those words in the passage.
- Copy the exact word form and spelling from the text.
- Answers are in sequence so mark where you stopped reading and continue from there.
Matching names to opinions:
- Underline names from the text first.
- Read around the name.
- Select the statement from the question that matches what you’ve read.
- Notice if there’s NB instruction which means answers might repeat.
- Get keywords from the question and the answer options.
- Find the paragraph which contains those words you’ve underlined earlier.
- Locate synonyms and understand the idea. Don’t match words alone.
- Choose the most appropriate letter and eliminate other options.
- Make sure to address all parts of the task
- Follow the standard IELTS format.
- Know how to develop a topic without going off topic
- Make use of complex sentence structures, collocations and topic-specific vocabulary
- Proofread carefully and avoid frequent sentence errors (vocabulary and grammar-wise).
- Focus on fluency rather than grammar. How you say it matters more than what you say. Creative ideas are secondary.
- Be natural. Don’t treat it as a job interview. You are assessed based on how you conduct yourself in natural conversations in English.
- Learn more phrasal verbs and topic-specific vocabulary for topics that will be asked.
- Avoid hesitation, fillers (uhms and ahs) and pauses at the beginning or while talking.
- Smile and keep eye contact. Building rapport with the examiner is vital as it is still after all, a subjective test.
Why Choose Us?
Unlike other training centers, we customize a training plan for our students to make sure their weak points are properly addressed. We do not just also give them practice tests to do and leave them on their own but rather, we make sure that they are well guided and supervised to have a grasp of the key techniques and the correct approaches to the questions. This is because practice won’t help if the student is not aware of the correct method to tackle the material first.
Furthermore, the structure and format we give specifically in Writing, are not just random. We pay close attention to the Cambridge assessment criteria; hence, students’ preparation in terms of vocabulary and grammar aspects are all designed based on the examiners’ rubric. As a result, when test day comes, they produce outputs that uphold the standards of the IELTS assessors.
Why are Grade 12 students required to take IELTS?
-If their aim is to study in English speaking countries like the US, taking IELTS is a prerequisite as this is an international requirement for all candidates whose native tongue is not English but who would like to get university admissions overseas.
What is the average score to pass IELTS?
Technically speaking, there is no passed or failed in IELTS as it all depends on the purpose why you’re using it. If your goal is to study, then universities usually require an overall 6.5 or 7 with a grade not below 6 in each sub-test (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking). On the other hand, those aiming to work or migrate to English speaking countries would be eligible to apply with a grade not below 6 in each component. Overall, it is best to consult with your processing advisor and ask what band score you need to aim for based on your profile and country of destination.
What are the exam dates each year?
For paper-based exams, there are 4 dates each month under the Academic module whereas there are 2 dates each month for the General Training one.
Computer-delivered exams on the other hand, have more frequent test dates even on weekdays so it is best to refer to the official British Council and IDP websites for the dates which also include the fees and test locations. (see links below)
How much are the fees?
At the moment, Academic and General Training paper-based format costs AED1170 while the computer-delivered format costs AED1290.
How long is the test validity?
The certificate issued by Cambridge after you take the exam lasts for 2 years. If after 2 years you were not able to use it for whatever your application is, you need to take another test.
What if I did not get the score in only one sub-test? Can I take the test for that area alone?
No. If for instance, you were not able to get the required score in one component, you need to do a retake of all areas, not just the one where you failed.
Can I still use the first certificate I got from a first attempt even though I took a second one?
Yes, as long as it is still valid and 2 years has not passed yet. You can submit whichever certificate you deem more suitable for your application.
What if I was not able to attend my exam because of unforeseen circumstances? Can I get a refund?
Most likely no. IELTS centers do not allow refund unless you apply for it 5 weeks before your registered exam date. If it is not within that time frame, you cannot get your money back. You can have the option to request for a transfer date where they schedule you for another date provided that your reason is valid, such as serious illness or bereavement.
What if I’m not happy with the score. Is a remark possible?
Yes. IELTS has Enquiry on Results (EOR) where you can co-test your scores in one sub-test or in all sub-test provided you pay the fee. It’s possible that your band score, retains though. But if it’s also likely to either go down or go up usually by .5 to 1 whole band. And if that happens, they will refund your remarking fee. (see link for more details: https://www.britishcouncil.org.br/en/exam/ielts/results/enquiry)