By: Míster Sebastian Felipe Alarcón Páez
Our 2019 seniors will be taking an international test called “IELTS” this coming October, in order to graduate. In this order, this text tends to give students, parents, family and people who are part of our “Samista” community, the opportunity to get to know it, getting useful information and tips that will enhance students’ adaptability and will help them to get ready to take the test, living anything to chance.
IELTS “international English language testing system” is a test of English language proficiency that is designed to assess non-native language speaking ability, for people who want to study or work in countries which this language is used. This means, that the purpose of this test is to prove a good English level, to be part of an academic or social context, being able to participate and have a good development inside of it.
The test evaluates different abilities that are considered necessary in order to have a good English language management, these abilities are: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing
Each one of these abilities is assessed individually, within a specific amount of time and following certain procedures, all of them designed and stablished to determine how well the participant uses English language in common communicative contexts.
The performance of the participant will be reported as a band score on a scale from 1 which is the lowest to 9, the highest. All parts of the test and the overall band score are reported in whole or half bands (e.g. 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, etc.). Now have a look at the scale given by the IELTS.
Image taken from: http://www.lawand-Education.com/media/223078/IELTS%20preparation%20tips.pdf
There are two types of the IETLS exam, it exists the general and the academic test. The general one measures English language proficiency in a practical everyday context; one the other hand, the academic IELTS measures English language proficiency for an academic, higher learning environment.
Here you have a detailed description of each one of the tests.
Image taken from: https://ieltscanadatest.com/take-ielts/choice-of-two-tests/
Now that we have got in touch with some general information about the test, here you have some important tips or advice to follow in order to ensure a good result. You will find first on the day IELTS exam tips and then, some tips per ability. Please read carefully and make sure you follow as many as you can.
ON THE DAY IELTS EXAM TIPS:
Be prepared to take the test by making sure you know exactly what will happen in the day of the exam. Check the following rules
- Arrive early: Make sure how long it takes to get to your IELTS test center in order to calculate the time. Don’t be late, otherwise you will not be allowed to enter the room. Before the test, you have to check in giving personal information and it takes some time too.
- Sleep and eat well: It takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to take the listening, reading and writing test. You will not have any breaks or pauses between them. Make sure you are well rested and you have eaten well in order to have enough energy to be focused during the whole test.
- Drink: Having water, juice or any other beverage can be helpful to maintain your concentration and avoid tiredness. You can bring something to drink as long as it is in a transparent bottle.
- ID: Your identification is necessary in order to recognize you as the genuine applicant of the test. Make sure you bring it to the test center.
- Pencil an eraser: It would be good to bring at least two pencils and one eraser to the test. It is forbidden to take an extra paper or the dictionary to the test.
- No phones: Entering the room with a cellphone or any other electronic item is not allowed.
- Listen and read the instructions very carefully: Instructions are probably one of the most important things to get a good result. When you understand the instructions you will know what to do and will avoid any possible mistake.
- Focus and calm: Arrive to the test center with a clear aim trying to be confident all the time. Remember that you have been preparing this test for a long time.
LISTENING TIPS (30 MINUTES)
- At the beginning of each section, read the instructions carefully before the recording starts. This will help you to know what to do and what to look for inside the recording.
- Don’t worry about the questions answered once you have finished the section. Look forward and read the instructions of the following section right away.
- The order you hear in the recording sometimes is not the same you have in the paper. This is usually presented following an alphabetical order.
- Try to look or listen to keywords or synonyms in order to get to the right answer. Keywords will help you understanding the idea of the phrase or sentence.
- As you are listening to the recording, try to cross out options that are not related in any way to the information given or asked. This makes easier for you to find the right answer.
- In case there is any questions you could not answered, don’t overthink about it. Continue with the next question and stay positive all the time.
- After the last recording has ended, you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the Listening booklet to your answer sheet. Don’t make any mistake.
READING TIPS (60 MINUTES)
- In order to improve your reading ability, you have to read different type of texts. This will make you more competent and will help you to develop the ability to read quickly.
- Read every question carefully before reading the text. In this way you might find the answers you need easier and faster.
- The Reading passages always contain the information you need to answer the question. You won’t have to use your own knowledge of a topic. So don’t get nervous if the topic is not common to you.
- Circle or underline keywords as you read. This will help you to find the important information without wasting time. Details are always important and helpful when finding an answer.
- If there are questions you cannot answer, leave them and move on to the next question. This will help you to stay calm and positive. Go back to those questions at the end, if you have time.
- Make sure you write down the answers of the reading test on the answer sheet. There will be no time for you to transfer the answers after reading the test.
WRITING TIPS (60 MINUTES)
There are two parts. Responses to Task 1 and Task 2 should be written in an academic, semi-formal or neutral style.
- In your writing test, there are no correct or wrong answers. The examiners are assessing your capacity to use English to report information and express ideas.
- Analyze the questions carefully but fast. Give answers addressed to all the points covered in the question.
- Pay attention to the minimum of words for each one of the tasks. If you write less than 150 words in task 1 and less than 250 words in task 2, you will lose marks.
- Use your own words when writing. The examiner will be very attentive to the way you use English. If you copy any type of information from the text, you will lose marks as well.
- You do not have to write very long sentences to do well in your Writing test. If sentences are too long, they will become less coherent and also make it harder for you to control the grammar.
SPEAKING TIPS (11 TO 14 MINUTES)
- Make sure you practice enough speaking before taking the test. You can practice with friends, relatives or at work. The more you speak the easier it will be to get confidence and fluency. You should also record yourself, so you listen to your pronunciation and fix the possible mistakes made.
- There are no right or wrong answers in the Speaking test. The examiner will assess you on how well you can express your ideas and opinions in good English. Of course, take into account that your answer has to be addressed to the examiner’s questions.
- When presenting the test, imagining that you are talking to a friend or relative can be very helpful for you to get relaxed, calmed and confident.
- Avoid utilizing the examiners words when answering a question. Try to use your own words and English knowledge.
- Speak clearly at a natural pace, if you speak to quickly you may make mistakes or pronounce words incorrectly.
- Use the correct verb tense when answering questions in the Speaking test. Listen carefully to the question and notice which verb tense is used.
- It is better to use simple, commonly used vocabulary and to use it correctly than to use advanced vocabulary that you are unsure about. However, to get a high score, you must show you know how to use more advanced vocabulary.
Finally, if you want to know some more details about the IELTS exam, surf the web and go to the British Council web page. There you will find important information, costs and dates you can apply for, to take the test. Additionally, there is an online training you can download for free in order to test yourself and reflect about the possible mistakes made.
Last but not least, take it seriously, but don’t push yourself beyond your limit, there is no need to get stressed.
HAVE FUN AND GOOD LUCK!