The International English Language Testing System or IELTS as it is popularly known is the worlds most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and migration. The test grades your English language skills based on four key aspects of communication: speaking, writing, reading and listening.
International students and immigrants who are not native English speakers are often required to take the IELTS exam to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Every year millions of people sit for the IELTS test and the majority of them are students and immigrants moving to the UK, Australia and Canada.
The IELTS examinations have a validity period of 2 years and scores are graded in bands ranging from 0 to 9. The IELTS exam requires proper and adequate preparation to obtain a high score.
One of the ways of getting a good score in the IELTS exams is by practising. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you 10 practical tips to prepare effectively for the IELTS exam.
10 Ways to Prepare Effectively For IELTS Test
In this guide, I’ll list practical steps to help you prepare better for the IETLS exams. With all the tips listed below, you can practice at the comfort of your home.
1. Practice Base On the Test Format
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not getting familiar with the test format. The IELTS exams generally come in two versions; IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. While the Listening and the Speaking components are the same for both tests, the Reading and the Writing components are different.
Familiarize yourself with the candidates’ booklet which provides essential information about how to respond correctly to each part of the test. Get to know what each level on the IELTS band score table means.
Carry out proper research on what the examiners are looking for in the speaking and writing test by reading the assessment criteria. Before confident in yourself, and don’t let anything distract you.
2. Work On Your Vocabulary
You need to also work on your vocabulary when you’re preparing for the IETLS examination. To do this, you need to read deliberately to understand words and their usage as they function in sentences and also in a social context.
You also need to read from different sources such as newspapers, novels, online articles and from reputable media outlets. By doing this, you help develop your vocabulary and have a wide command of words in the English language.
3. Register as Soon as Possible
When you feel you are ready to take the test, you need to register for a test date with an IELTS centre. I know its not a popular opinion, but registering early is one of the ways to do better in your test.
Early registration gives you room for proper planning and preparation. You have less anxiety and pressure while studying. A major reason why people fail to meet up to the expected score in their IELTS exam is because of late registration and they don’t have enough time to prepare properly.
4. Create a Study Schedule
Creating a study schedule helps you to prepare effectively for any type of exams. You need to know when and where to read per time. Some people assimilate better at night while others do that during the day. Others might need to visit the library and settle in a cubicle to assimilate. In all these, you need to fit your study time into your study zone. Know what works for you and do it effectively.
5. Make Effective Use of the Dictionary
The dictionary should be your companion while preparing for your IELTS test. The dictionary contains almost every single word in the English vocabulary. Also, it is the easiest tool to build your vocabulary.
You don’t necessarily need to have a hard copy dictionary. A dictionary app on your phone is a good way to start with. If you plan on writing the IELTS exams and you don’t have a dictionary app on your phone, you need to download one now. Some dictionaries also help in pronunciation, a more reason you should get one today.
6. Listen to Radio and TV Programs
Most people listen to radio and TV programs just to be entertained. However, as a student preparing for a test, you can use this medium to prepare better. You should listen to programs on the radio with intent.
Listen to radio and TV programs featuring native speakers to build your vocabulary and understand words and their usage. Listening to programs, say on BBC or CNN, will help you practice for your IELTS examination.
7. Study Sample Questions
The IELTS test can take you unawares if you’re not well prepared for it. One of the most effective ways of practising is by studying sample questions. Practice the test using free IELTS test sample questions.
You can also use the Official IELTS Practice Materials which you can purchase online or from your local test centre. These sample questions will not only help you prepare adequately, but you also get to measure how much you have learned and how well you are likely to perform in the exam.
In addition to practising sample questions, also consider taking an IELTS preparation course. A preparation course will help you practice the type of tasks included in an IELTS test (e.g. a short essay or letter for the Writing test), get feedback on your answers to practice questions, become more confident in your test-taking skills and help you decide if you are ready to take your IELTS test.
8. Read in Different Formats
For most people, reading can be boring and tedious at times especially if you’re reading only textbooks. You should consider expanding your reading to texts that you’re genuinely interested in.
Magazines, newspapers and books are all valuable resources, and the more interested you are in the topic, the more likely you are to remember what you read.
9. Watch Videos with Original Subtitle
There are millions of videos online from native English speakers with subtitles. You should watch these videos to practise both reading and listening skills. Another way is by downloading movie scripts online and read the subtitles as you watch. This is particularly useful if you don’t have a speaking partner and makes a nice change to boring textbooks.
10. Play Word Games
Traditional word games like Scrabble could also help in preparing for IELTS exams. However, I’ll recommend you check online word game resources that can help you improve your vocabulary.
Whenever you’re less busy, just take a look at your word game instead of wasting it doing nothing. Use these games and make the most of your time to prepare for your test.