HOW TO PREPARE FOR IELTS

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IELTS preparation is a complex long term process. After reading this article, you will get to know about How to Prepare for IELTS. In this entire process the candidate has to go through a lot of stages to pass and excel in the IELTS Exam.

IELTS is an English Language test for applicants who consider to study or work abroad. The only source of communication is English.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is popular worldwide within English speakers as a second language proof of their fluency . In this Article, We will discuss about how to prepare for IELTS.

IELTS is jointly owned and managed by the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment and IDP Education Australia. Having the right IELTS score is one way of proving that you have English language proficiency to enter a top university. But before that it is important to get an idea about the testing format and how to prepare for IELTS exam.

How to Prepare for IELTS

IELTS PATTERN:

The IELTS exam pattern comprises four sections, Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The candidates are tested on these four parameters. The complete test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

IELTS Pattern

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Prepare for IELTS Listening Test

This section is to check the listening ability of the candidate. For this test the candidates have to listen to recorded texts, monologues and write answers to a series of questions.

The questions test the ability to understand main ideas and detailed information, opinions and attitudes of speakers. Also the ability to understand the purpose of what is said and ability to follow the development of ideas.

How to Prepare for IELTS

A variety of voices and accents are used and you will hear each section only once. Test taker has to answer 40 questions within 30 minutes. All the questions are divided into four sections :

Section 1:

10 questions are there in this section which includes a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context. For example, a conversation in an agency

Section 2:

This involves 10 questions which is a monologue on any general social topic. For example, speech on the local community facilities.

Section 3:

Questions asked in this section involve a conversation between 2-4 people about academics set in an educational or training context. For example, students discussing a particular topic with their university tutor. 

Section 4:

All the 10 questions in this section pertain to a monologue on an academic matter. For example, a university lecture. 

Test takers have to listen to pre-recorded recordings to answer these sections. Questions can be MCQ type, fill in the blanks, flowcharts, or tables. 

IELTS Listening

Prepare for IELTS Reading

This is another reading portion of How to Prepare for IELTS. In this section, a variety of questions test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for reading for detail, understanding logical argument, recognizing writers’ opinions, and purpose.

The total number of questions asked is 40. The time period to solve this section is 60 minutes. For IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, the reading section is different. Through this test, the examiners measure comprehensible skills of the test taker.

IELTS Reading
IELTS Reading

Academic Reading– The Academic version includes three long texts  taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. The writing style of the reading excerpts range from the descriptive to analytical.

The questions are appropriate for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration.

In all the passages, the test taker has to recognize the writer’s purpose, attitude or opinions.

General Training Reading: The General Training version requires candidates to read extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements. These are materials that are likely encountered on a daily basis in an English speaking environment.

The main purpose is to read for main ideas, details, logical arguments, and figuring out the writers’ attitudes, opinions and intentions.

IELTS Reading

Prepare for IELTS Writing

This again is divided into two versions of Academic and General Training with a maximum of 60 minutes allotted for the test. 

Academic Writing– The Writing component of the Academic version includes two tasks. Topics are of general interest and suitable for anyone entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies. In this test, the Test takers are required to scan the reading passages to find out important facts within passages. They should also be conscious enough to find out every detail available in paragraphs. The two tasks involved in this are:

  • Writing Task 1 Candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart and are asked to explain the information in their own words. The time allotted to this is minimum 20 minutes. The word limit of this task is 150 words. 
  • Writing Task 2– Candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be written in a formal style.Word limit for the 2nd task is 250 words. Examiners mark the test takers on the basis of 4-5 criteria like Task Achievement or Task Response, and Grammatical Accuracy. To achieve each criterion, 25% of total marks is considered.
IELTS Writing

General Training Writing– The Writing component of the General Training version includes two tasks which are based on topics of general interest. Time allotted for this section is 60 minutes.

  • Task 1- Candidates are presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style. Test taker gets 20 minutes to complete Task 1. Word limit for Task 1 is 150 words.
  • Task 2- Candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 1 essay. Time allotted is 40 minutes for completion. Examiners mark the test takers on the basis of Task Achievement or Task Response, and Grammatical Accuracy. To achieve each criterion, the examiner marks 25% of total marks.
IELTS Writing

Prepare for IELTS Speaking

The Speaking component assesses the use of spoken English. It takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete and every test is recorded. This section is like a face to face interview between the test taker and examiner. Examiners mark the test takers in presence of skills like usage of grammar, accuracy, and pronunciation. For each criterion, test takers carries a weightage value of 25%.

IELTS Speaking

 The speaking test is there in 3 parts:

  • Part 1-  Candidates answer general questions on topics such as their home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.
  • Part 2- Test taker has to pick up a task card for choosing a topic to talk about for Task 2. Candidates are given a minute to prepare their thoughts on the topic, after which he/she speaks for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.
  • Part 3- Candidates need to answer further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions will provide an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
IELTS Speaking

IELTS SCORING: 

IELTS score is a combination of the band scores from the four sections. All IELTS Scores are between 0-9. There is no negative marking in this exam in the correction, only correct answers have a score. A person can either receive a full score (like 5.0, 8.0, 6.0) or half scores (like .5, 7.5). Each band score has its own implication.

IELTS Scoring

How to Prepare for IELTS:

IELTS preparation is a complex long term process where the candidate has to go through a lot of stages. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a language proficiency test for those students who want to pursue higher education or employment opportunities in English speaking nations. 

Passing this exam brings an individual closer to studying in 140 different countries. It prepares one for the everyday conversations in an English-speaking country. IELTS preparation makes the exam pattern familiar to the test takers. Total test time for the IELTS exam is 2hrs 45 minutes.  

How to Prepare for IELTS
How to Prepare for IELTS

The IELTS Exam tests a variety of skills and every step needs to be prepared in a different manner. Studying for the exam is half the process; the other half is having strategies to answer questions. Doing well on any exam requires an understanding to approach the exam with proper planning. Test takers require a minimum of 6 months to 1 year of hard work to score well in IELTS. Some of the strategies to excel in the exam are:

  • Improving English– As it is a language proficiency test, the test takers should have a good command over English. For improving the level of English, develop practice skills. Start reading English books, newspapers, magazines, handbooks advertisements of all kinds.
  • Time Management- In IELTS exam, every question is attempted within a strict period of time. While preparing for the exam always try to stick to the time frame. Avoid any hassle on the exam day. Don’t divide total time by the number of questions. This process is wrong as there are different strategies to consider.
How to Prepare for IELTS
How to Prepare for IELTS
  • Planning– One should leave as much time as possible for planning out the written answers. First take two minutes to organize your thoughts and then start writing. Save five minutes for the end to read the answer again. This is done to make sure there aren’t any repeated words as it is a fatal error in any language exam. 
  • Developing Writing Skills–  Only having knowledge, listening and speaking skills would not fetch any success in the IELTS. So one should develop his writing skills by learning how to structure an essay paragraph by paragraph. Practice reading and understanding essay questions.
How to Prepare for IELTS

There are two ways to prepare for IELTS: one is self-study and another is attending coaching classes. If a person is already fluent in English, he does not need to attend coaching classes and can prepare for the exam on his own. Money is also an important consideration, which if is a problem then self-study is a better option. However, in order to study on your own,you need to give in your best efforts dedicated for each section of the IELTS exam.

On the other hand, if someone does not have enough time and needs professional supervision for the exam preparation then coaching classes are a good option. The following is a list of some books which might be helpful for the preparation:

  •  Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 – Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 contains four practice tests for the Academic module of the IELTS exam. The book contains an introduction to the modules with an explanation of different question types. By covering all the major topics in the test, it gives an individual a comprehensive idea about the IELTS Exam.
  • Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CD – This is currently the only book which helps IELTS students in grammar. IELTS doesn’t contain a specific grammar module. But the appropriate usage of grammar is undoubtable important for success in the other modules. All grammar points needed for IELTS are there in this book.
  • Step Up to IELTS Personal Study Book with Answers – This book is the perfect choice for intermediate level students who find most IELTS books too challenging for them. This book covers essential exam skills for the Academic Training modules in 60 hours teaching time.

Besides the above mentioned guidance books, some people also prefer joining coaching institutes for a thorough preparation. Institutes like Jamboree is one of the oldest IELTS Coaching Centre which covers all aspects and sections of the exams along with mock tests and real-life scenarios. British Council is the best coaching institute for IELTS training. Camford is a very reputed coaching institute for IELTS in Trivandrum, Kerala. The IELTS course duration is 2 two months. They offer crash courses for the duration of one and two weeks.

Using guide books and other resources might help in developing a strong hold over the topics to cover in the exam. Knowing where you stand would help you move further with your preparation. Hence, it is a good idea to keep on taking up the IELTS practice tests every now and then.

It would also help in preparing an individual for facing and handling the question paper well, without panicking on the day of the exam.

Official IELTS Practice Materials 1 with Audio CD

IELTS is the only English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa applicants applying both outside and inside the UK.

The common question which arises is why should you opt for IELTS? The answer is that the foreign universities and visa granting authorities need to be sure that you would not have communication problems during stay in the country. You need to show a good understanding and strong command of the English language. That is why your overall IELTS scores are so important.

However, IELTS isn’t compulsory in all university admissions as many universities might not even require IELTS scores for admission purposes. But if one doesn’t give IELTS, the chances of getting the student visa might suffer.The visa officers may not be convinced about your English proficiency without IELTS scores. So it is safer to appear for IELTS and aim to score at least 6 bands overall.

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